October 2011 Archives

Perlbuzz news roundup for 2011-10-31

These links are collected from the Perlbuzz Twitter feed. If you have suggestions for news bits, please mail me at andy@perlbuzz.com.

Spreadsheet::WriteExcel is dead. Long live Excel::Writer::XLSX.

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The following is by John McNamara. If you do anything with getting data to users that winds up in Excel, you owe it to yourself to look at John's module.

Last week I released a new version of Excel::Writer::XLSX to CPAN that was 100% API compatible with Spreadsheet::WriteExcel. This marked a milestone as I am now able to move past WriteExcel's feature set and move on to new features that I wasn't able to support previously.

This was achieved with 30 CPAN releases in almost exactly a year. By comparison, WriteExcel took almost 10 years. This gives a fair indication of the disparity of effort required to implement a feature in the pre-Excel 2007 binary xls format as opposed to the new XML based xlsx format.

So, from now on, all new features will go into Excel::Writer::XLSX and Spreadsheet::WriteExcel will be in maintenance mode only.

The first of the new features, conditional formatting, was added yesterday. For a long time has been the most frequently requested feature for WriteExcel but it was always too big a feature to implement in the available time that I had.

With Excel::Writer::XLSX you can now add a format like the following:

$worksheet1->conditional_formatting( 'B3:K12',
    {
        type     => 'cell',
        format   => $light_red,
        criteria => '>=',
        value    => 50,
    }
);

This will result in output like the following, full example here:

conditional_format.jpg

Excel::Writer::XLSX has also been designed differently from Spreadsheet::WriteExcel to allow it to implement some features that previously weren't possible (or at least easy). One of these is the separation of the data and the formatting.

It was a common assumption with new users of WriteExcel that you could write data to a spreadsheet and then apply the formatting afterwards. However, for design reasons related to performance and Excel's file format this wasn't easily implemented. With Excel::Writer::XLSX the back-end architecture is different and this type of feature is not only possible but will be added soon.

If you are a user of Spreadsheet::WriteExcel then now is probably a good time to try out Excel::Writer::XLSX so you can get the new features when them come on-line.

John McNamara is a software engineer living in Ireland. Once a month he drinks a pint of Guinness with Tim Bunce to discuss Perl and open source. He spends a lot of time looking at hexdumps so that you don't have to.

Perlbuzz news roundup for 2011-10-17

These links are collected from the Perlbuzz Twitter feed. If you have suggestions for news bits, please mail me at andy@perlbuzz.com.

Perlbuzz news roundup for 2011-10-10

These links are collected from the Perlbuzz Twitter feed. If you have suggestions for news bits, please mail me at andy@perlbuzz.com.

There's only one useful way to handle your detractors

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This is a repost from my main blog, but it applies to all of us working on Parrot and Perl 6. Keep on keeping on, ignore the trolls, and keep moving forward to completing the vision.

Here's a Reddit/Slashdot/whatever thread that never happened:

Internet crank on Reddit: "Hey, Steve Jobs, I guess that new iPad looks cool, but I think iPad is a stupid name, it makes me think of sanitary napkins."

Steve: "Yeah, well, here's why we called it that. (Long explanation justifying his choices)"

Crank #2: "Well, why didn't you call it the iTablet? I think that would have been a good name. What does everyone else think?"

Crank #3: "What does it have to be iAnything? I'm tired of the i- prefix."

Steve: "We thought about that, but ... (More explanation about his choices)"

Crank #1: "And really, isn't it just a bigger iPod Touch? I would never carry that around with me. And come on, you're just trying to redo the Newton anyway LOL"

Steve: "My logic behind the iPad is (vision, business plan, blah blah blah)"

Can you even imagine Steve Jobs in this sort of time-wasting and emotionally draining tit-for-tat in a thread on Slashdot? On reddit? In some blog's comment section? Of course not. Justification of his plans would take away from the amazing things that he needed to achieve.

Naysayers are part of every project. How many people do you think pissed on Jimmy Wales' little project to aggregate knowledge? Nobody's going to spend their time writing encyclopedia entries! And yet there it is. On a personal level, if I listened to everyone who thought I was wasting my time improving on find + grep you'd never have ack.

We all have to persevere in the face of adversity to ideas, but there's more than that. We need to ignore our detractors. Despite how silly and time-wasting it is to argue your motivations and reasons for undertaking a project, many of us feel compelled to argue with everyone who disagrees with us. I suggest you not waste your time.

On the Internet, the attitude is "Why wasn't I consulted?" Every anti-social child (measured by calendar or maturity) with a keyboard thinks it's his responsibility to piss on everything he doesn't like. They'll be there always. You can no more make them go away than you would by arguing with the rain.

What are you hoping to achieve by arguing with someone who doesn't like your project? Do you expect that he'll come around to your way of thinking? It won't happen through words.

Not only does arguing with your critics waste your precious time, but it tells them, and every other crank reading, that you're willing to engage in debate about what you're doing. Don't encourage them! Let them find a more receptive target.

I'm not saying that factual misstatements need to be ignored. If something is provably incorrect, go ahead and counter it with facts. However, most of the time these message thread pissing wars get down to "I would not be doing what you are doing, and therefore you are wrong for doing so."

The only thing that has a chance of silencing your critics is success at what you do. Arguing with the naysayers doesn't get you any closer to that.

Perlbuzz news roundup for 2011-10-03

These links are collected from the Perlbuzz Twitter feed. If you have suggestions for news bits, please mail me at andy@perlbuzz.com.

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