I have three new books, which I’ll be reading and reviewing here. Here are the books with very brief first impressions.
This is a follow-up written explicitly for Excel 2007, but much of the book is really version-agnostic. It assumes little foreknowledge of Excel, and starts out with the preliminaries, such as entering simple formulas and printing a worksheet.
The book proceeds to advanced topics, including VBA programming, advanced data analysis and display, and finally into modeling of physical systems.
The first edition of this book was considered the seminal book on Excel development. It covered many advanced topics, in such a way that a user understood the topics and could implement them (unlike certain renowned help files).
This edition is as advanced as the first edition, and several sections have been added or enhanced. I already have sticky notes in a few chapters I need to read in more detail. There is a section on working with the Excel 2007 ribbon, and the coverage of VSTO and .Net has been changed from practically just a sidebar to several chapters, thanks to the fine efforts of Wallentin, a new author in this volume, but no stranger in the Excel blogosphere.
Stephen Few stands out among infoviz experts in that his writings are approachable by “mere” typical users, his style is easy to follow, and his examples can be implemented by almost anyone, with almost any software package. Few backs up his assertions about visualization techniques with insights from the field of human cognitive science, not simply graphic design rules handed down from the mount. Few isn’t the biggest fan of Excel, but he acknowledges that it is the most prevalent data visualization package, and his approach can be followed in Excel.
Few starts with a brief history of visualization: “[Scottish social scientist William] Playfair invented the bar graph, was the first to use line graphs to represent change through time, and, on one of his off days, invented the pie chart.” This fluid style permeates the book, and makes it an enjoyable and informative read.
As time allows, I’ll finish these books and add more detailed reviews. I’ll also provide links to reviews by others.