What’s new in PlanMaker 2010

PlanMaker 2010 is the most significant rewrite of PlanMaker since 2001. Internally, all data structures have been changed so that PlanMaker will be able to work with much larger data sets than in the past.

The first visible sign is that the row capacity is now set at 65536 instead of 16384 rows.

We will increase this even further (up to 1 million) when our XLSX export filter is done – the regular XLS file format cannot store anything beyond 65536 rows, and our own PMD format is a slight variation on XLS. It therefore has the same limit.

In order to handle these larger row sets, we had to bring down memory requirements and increase the speed of all sheet operations. This means that even now, while we are still at 65536 rows, PlanMaker 2010 should be faster and require less RAM memory than PlanMaker 2008.

Let’s look at some of the new worksheet features:

  • External references: This has been a longstanding wish from PlanMaker users. Finally, with PlanMaker 2010 you can link to other workbooks in your calculations. Like in Excel, you choose how and when those calculations are updated.
  • Select multiple sheets: With PlanMaker 2010, you can select several sheets in the sheet register and apply formatting operations on all of them simultaneously. For example, if you wish to change the paper format, simply select all worksheets and then call the File/Page setup command.
  • Formula auditing: When things go wrong in elaborate worksheets, you need a “debugger”. Formula auditing is such a “worksheet debugger”. It can be used to plot dependencies between cells, to mark invalid input in cells (cells containing values that violate their input validation settings), and trace errors.
  • A Repeat command: One nice thing in Excel is the Edit/Repeat command. It simply repeats the last operation on the current set of data. Immensely useful, and PlanMaker 2010 has it now, too. What we did not copy is the mysterious way that Excel uses to swap the Redo and the Repeat command in and out of the Edit menu. We simply have two separate commands without magic hide-and-seek…
  • Search on steroids: The Search function has been overhauled, too. You can now search across multiple sheets, and what’s even nicer is that you can choose to have PlanMaker display a “hit list”. All cells or comments or frames matching the search term are shown in a list, and you can jump between them by clicking in the list.
  • Paste special with extras: The command Edit/Paste special now allows you not only to paste data in different ways, but (like in Excel) combine the pasted values with the pasted-over values. We offer Add, Substract, Multiply, and Divide. Additionally, you can transpose cells, skip empty cells, and choose which part of the formatting (the number format, the character format, the shading etc.) to paste and which not.
  • A wizard for text file import: Now you can do nearly anything when importing text files. PlanMaker supports a large variety of character sets and lets you determine which columns are imported as text and which as numbers, currencies, dates, times, etc. Furthermore, you decide whether to import separator-delimited files (with freely chooseable delimiters) or fixed-width files. A preview always shows what the import will look like with the current settings.
  • A wizard for text file export: Same story when saving to text files. Here, PlanMaker’s preview will also display those characters from your worksheet in red that cannot be stored in the chosen character set.
  • Wizards for dBASE import and export: You can do similar things when importing and exporting dBASE files.
  • Scenarios are great for “what if” calculations. You can set up multiple scenarios with variable values and then “play” with the numbers to reach informed decisions.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the great charting features that PlanMaker 2010 comes with.

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