"Charley, are you...um...okay?" my caller asked. "It's been a long time since you sent us a
I assured him that I'm fine, just bogged down with The Move and Excel projects.
With regard to The Move, my wife and I decided last year that we were fed up with the
bumper-to-bumper traffic in the Seattle area. So we bought a fixer-upper in Ocean Shores, a little town on the
Washington coast, 25 miles from the nearest stop light. Fixing up the old house over the past year,
and the move, took more time
(and money!) than we expected. But deer and raccoons now peer through our windows, and geese
fertilize our lawn.
So I guess the move was a success.
With regard to projects, I've finally responded to many requests and completed two major Excel projects in
the past few months.
The book was already written; I just needed to update it for a new version of Excel.
You wouldn't think that it would be a very difficult task. However, Excel 2007 offered several
- Bugs. Excel 2007 has several bugs with charts and Camera objects that I had to work hard to avoid.
- Colors. Excel 2007 handles colors differently than earlier versions, and Excel 2007
doesn't offer color compatibility between the two versions. The Excel 2007 e-book includes a
long article in the Appendix that explains the compatibility problems and the best way to deal with them.
- Excel UI. Excel 2007's user interface (UI) has changed completely. So I had to convert
every 2003 command to the 2007 version.
You can learn more about both versions
of the dashboard
book and their supporting files at this link.
Because Excel 2007 is so different from earlier versions, we need an easy way to talk about these
products. So I've started to use "Classic Excel" to refer to Excel versions through Excel 2003, and
"New Excel" to refer to Excel 2007 and the versions that follow.
Plug-N-Play Dashboard Kits
the dashboard ebook occasionally have written, "I just got your book, and it looks good. But I need
to create dashboard reports today. Can you help?"
That's what the first Plug-N-Play kit is all about.
The kit provides ten dashboard layouts, and
fifteen color schemes, for a total of 150 combinations of layout and color. You merely enter your titles
and values in the supporting worksheets, recalculate by pressing F9, choose a color scheme, and then print.
If you also have the dashboard book and its supporting files, they can help you answer two obvious
- "How do I modify these PNP reports to meet my needs?" The dashboard book doesn't
address the PNP kit directly. But it explains how Excel dashboards work, and gives you the
information you need to modify the Plug-N-Play dashboards, or to create your own dashboard reports from
scratch. The files available with the dashboard kit provide additional samples.
- "How do I link these reports to an Excel or company database?" To link the
PNP reports to your data you can find the formulas you need in the ebook, and then enter them
into the worksheets that support the charts and tables in the PNP workbook.
Versions of the PNP kit are available for both Classic and New Excel. If you have both versions
you might think that you can buy one version of the PNP kit and then use it with both versions of
Excel. Sadly, this
approach doesn't work. This is because Excel's colors aren't compatible between the two versions. In fact, I spent
hours converting the colors in the PNP reports from one version of Excel to the other.
You can learn more about the
Plug-N-Play dashboard kit at this link. I offer a discount if you buy both versions at the same
"So Why Hasn't Charley Answered My Question?"
Several years ago I conducted a series of telephone seminars about Excel dashboard reporting. The
feedback was quite good, except that people wanted to be able to SEE how to do what I described, not
merely hear it.
Finally, the technology is available that allows me to offer live web-based seminars -- webinars --
at a decent cost. Therefore, I'll soon offer webinars on a variety of topics.
I'll certainly offer webinars about dashboard reporting with Excel. My goal for those two- or
three-hour webinars will be to teach you how to create Excel dashboards quickly. I also have plans
for other multi-hour webinars that address many common questions I've received over the past several
However, I'd also like to know what YOU need to learn about Excel. This is why I posted the
"What's Your Greatest Excel Challenge?" question at ExcelUser several months ago.
Unfortunately, when I glanced through the responses recently, I learned that several people have
asked very detailed questions and hoped to get a personal answer. Similarly, I'm buried in normal Excel
questions, and I can't keep up with them all. So here's what I plan to do about both sets of
Starting in the next several weeks, I'm going to offer frequent, low-cost webinars that respond
to readers' questions. These webinars are based on an Excel classroom training program that I
offered years ago. Back then, people would bring their questions to the class, and everyone would
benefit from the answers to the questions that other people asked.
People found these seminars to be a lot more interesting and useful than standard classroom training. Also,
many of the questions were about Excel problems that other attendees were having.
However, in these new webinars I'll respond to questions asked in advance. This will give me the time
to research my answers where necessary.
In all cases, I'll offer one webinar for Classic Excel and another webinar for New Excel.
Finally, I'll mention that in the past few weeks I've also added four new articles to ExcelUser.
You can see them introduced at www.ExcelUser.com.
Enough for now.