You have a good idea, you’ve had it for ages, and finally you’ve got the courage to implement it. Your spreadsheet, it is a thing of beauty, it is complete, with all the cells you could ever need, and you’ve even gone the extra mile and you’ve named all the columns and the rows after important people, places, or things. You’ve spent hours programming it, looking at countless tutorials and trying out new things, and ultimately you are pretty happy to have created this. You’ve worked hard for this, and you proudly present your creation to your colleagues, who also admire it and congratulate you on your ingenuity.
Suddenly, everyone needs a copy, everyone wants to look at it, even the person you program it for, the person you named every cell after, wants to look at it because they are curious, or want to re-create it for their own needs. And all because of a simple mistake. Or misunderstanding. Or maybe even malice. One simple click and your carefully crafted masterpiece, gone to waste.
No one is really happy about this, and this is where traditional spreadsheets fail. Not only is it very difficult to make a copy of it if you really want to, but it also gets very complicated if you have to keep upgrading it as your needs change. So rather than fixing the issue with a traditional spreadsheet, why not just use something different and more complex? Like a relational database?
Well, you could, sort of. But this is still not the ideal solution. You can’t just chuck everything you’ve worked hard on in the name of expediency, or whatever your reason for needing a copy is. You’ll just have to start from scratch. And when you do, you’ll realise that all your colleagues really wanted to see was the pretty damn cool spreadsheet you’ve created, and not how you’ve re-arranged the world’s information into neat little tables and figures. So, it’s a lose-lose.
If you really want to see how a traditional spreadsheet works, you can always find it buried in a cupboard someplace. It’ll probably be in a very messy state, or missing some crucial bits. So if you are curious, you can have a look, but you’ll probably never know how exactly it works. You’ll just have to accept that it’s a thing that you’ll probably never be able to fully understand. And if you do end up using one, you’ll soon find that it doesn’t offer the flexibility you need, and you’ll be searching for a replacement in no time.
Well, it’s not exactly an easy thing to find a good replacement for a traditional spreadsheet. There aren’t many options out there, and those that are available tend to be very expensive and over-engineered. So, you’ll either have to settle for less functionality, or pay a lot for a product that does what you need. There is one solution that is both simple and effective, and free. A solution that allows you to easily make copies of your work, without all the hassle of formatting and making sure that each copy has all the right information. A solution that allows you to keep track of all your data, even if it changes in the future. A solution that provides flexibility and power, without all the complexity that comes with needing to know SQL. A solution that is both beautiful and functional.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Clouder. And with the power of Microsoft Excel, and the magic of copy-and-paste, you too can make a spreadsheet of numbers at work.
To illustrate how easy it is to use, I’ve gone ahead and created a tutorial video for you. In it, we’ll show you how to make a simple homework tracker, which will keep track of all your assignments, grades, and due dates for you to reference later. As you can see, it’s a very simple and intuitive tool, and yet it has all the functionality you could need.
Let’s get started. Open up Microsoft Excel, and then from the File menu on the top, select New. You’ll see the Worksheet, which you can use to make your own workbooks. Click on the Worksheet, and then on the File menu on the top, select Save As, and then choose Excel Data from the Format menu. This will give you an option to save your spreadsheet as an Excel Data file. Now, go ahead and click on Save. You’ll see the Save As dialog box, as shown in the image below. In this dialog box, you can browse to the folder you want to save the file in, and click on Save. The file will then be saved with a .xlsx extension, which is the file format for Excel 2019 and later versions.
Now that you’ve saved the file, you can start adding some content to it. To add a table of contents to your workbook, click on the Table of Contents template (the little horizontal tab at the top of the sheet, as is highlighted in the image below). This will open up the Table of Contents dialog box. Here you can add a name for the table of contents, and click on OK. Now, you’ll see your table of contents here on the right. You can click on Enter, and Excel will automatically insert a row below this, as is shown in the image below. You can format the row by clicking on Row Group (the little square next to Row 3), and then clicking on Cell. Here you can see my row group’s format, as you’ll see later on when we talk about customising your tables and cells.
You can format the cells in your table of contents as you see fit. My simple sheet has only two columns, Title and Date, so I’ve formatted the cells as text (you’ll notice the formula bar at the top, which is how you can do some basic mathematical operations). You can add as many tables to your Excel spreadsheet as you want, with Row Groups and Cells (as we’ve just talked about).
To add a table, click on the Table template (the little square next to Row 1), which will open up the Table dialog box here on the right. In this dialog box, you’ll see your table of contents, with Row Groups and Cells next to each table. You can click on the + button to add a new table. Each cell in a table can be formatted as you see fit. If you want, you can even make the table borderless (this will make it look like a lightbox, if you’re attaching it to an email or creating a PDF, for example, and don’t want to interfere with the layout of the rest of the sheet).
Formatting Your Tables and Cells
Now that you’ve got tables in your worksheet, you can start to format them. To do this, click on the Table row group (the one with the heading Homework Tracker) and then click on the Table Style. You’ll see the Table Style dialog box, as shown in the image below. Here you can choose which parts of the table you want to format, as well as the background colour and style.