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TinySheet 4 Review
By Ed Hardy
9/17/2001


Overview
TinySheet 4 is the latest version of iambic's spreadsheet app. It has over 110 functions and a new charting tool. It has two way synchronization with Microsoft Excel on Windows PCs.

TinySheet 4
The main TinySheet application has the standard spreadsheet format, of course. There's a grid of cells labeled with numbers and letters. iambic has gone out of its way to make this screen look as much like Microsoft Excel as possible, even more than the other Palm spreadsheets do. There's an area at the top of the screen where the values for the cells are input, scroll bars at the right and bottom, and even the small tabs to switch between sheets of the same workbook. Across the bottom of the screen are a series of icons for performing functions like Cut, paste, coloring the font, and more. About the biggest difference between TinySheet and Excel is that these icons are at the bottom rather than the top. If you are accustomed to working in Excel all the time, this is very convenient.

TinySheet has some fairly extensive formatting abilities. It has four different font sizes and you can change the foreground text color and background color for any cell. There are several options for displaying dates and times. Of course, you can select the number of decimal places, currency, the thousands separator and other options. You can control the borders for each side and top and bottom for each cell. Naturally, you can group cells together and apply formats to the groups so you don't have to spend hours formatting but it's nice that you can have such fine control of individual cells.

Naturally, you don't just want to display data with a spreadsheet, you also need to perform arithmatic functions on it. TinySheet has 113 built-in functions. This includes everything from the ultra-basic SUM to statistical, financial, and logical functions. I'm not going to list all 113; I'll just say that unless the function you want is particularly obscure, TinySheet probably has it.

As an example of some of what is possible, when testing the app, I wrote a checkbook register to test some of the functions. This included using an IF statement to check to see of each entry had been checked off as being credited to my account so I had not just a current total but the total that my bank knows about, too. Not an amazing spreadsheet but it still takes the place of the third-party check-register app I had been using.

Hi Resolution
One of the chief advantages of having your spreadsheet on a handheld also leads to one of its chief disadvantages. Handhelds are all about portability. In order to be portable, a handheld needs to be small. This leads to small screens that make it difficult to work with large spreadsheets, especially when they get both long and wide.

Fortunately, TinySheet has built-in support for the hi-res screen on the Sony N series. This means that these handhelds can display four times as much data as a unit with a 160 by 160 screen. Be sure to click on the image at right to see how much can be packed into an N series screen. Though as you can see, the hi-res screen still can't completely overcome the smallness issue: the font needs to be small in order to get the maximum amount of text.

This is so useful that I'm tempted to say that if you mostly use your handheld as a portable spreadsheet machine, an upgrade to a Sony N series would be worth it.

As long as I'm on the subject of Sony, I ought to mention that there's also support for the Jog Dial.

TinyChart
While little numbers in long columns have their uses, nothing makes an impact like a chart or graph. iambic has created a powerful charting tool in TinyChart. It offers six types of graphs, like line, column, pie, etc. Plus, each of these has subtypes and 3D versions.

Again, iambic has tried to make this as Excel-like as possible. Just select a range of values, choose 'Chart' from a drop down menu, go through a short wizard to pick the type and subtype, and your chart gets created. You can even assign a chart to a table cell. This puts a small graphic in the cell which, when clicked on, makes the chart appear.

Syncing with Excel
The TinySheet Conduit lets you synchronize spreadsheets between TinySheet on your handheld and Excel on your Windows PC automatically. I'm sad to say, there's no Macintosh conduit. Just add the spreadsheet to the TinySheet Desktop Manager or create a new sheet on the handheld and any changes on either platform will be synchronized during HotSync. It works with Excel 97 and higher .

I almost forgot to mention, the charts created with TinyChart also get synchronized with the charts in Excel.

Speed
One of the complaints about previous versions of TinyChart is they were kind of slow. iambic worked very hard to fix this. The development team was able increase synchronization speed with Excel, the speed handling formulas or cutting and pasting from cells, and the general speed of the program overall.

They have made some serious improvements in scrolling speed. If you have a really huge spreadsheet, you can scroll close to 400 rows down in five seconds.

Conclusion
I have to admit, the last time I was a serious Excel user was the mid-90s when it got me through two quarters of accounting and my Senior Project. TinySheet is quite similar to the version of Excel I was using then. This shouldn't surprise me much; my handheld now is about as powerful as the computer I was using then.

So I have to say, iambic has done a great job of translating Excel into a Palm version. It is easy to use, especially if you are familiar with Excel, and quite powerful.

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How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/20/2001 3:35:19 PM #
I am curious to know how many PIC readers are using their Palm devices to view and create spreadsheets. To those of you who do, how convenient is it to view and create spreadsheets on a handheld? In your opinion, is this a real business solution or more of a novelty item?

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/20/2001 3:46:36 PM #
I use it extensively in my business to keep track of data matrixes. It's better than lugging a laptop around and then I can sync whenever I enter data to either (I use the palm more frequently to enter data whenever I'm in the field).

As a registered user of TinySheet 3 and QuickSheet, I prefer TinySheet. It's formatting abilities make it identical to Excel (Quicksheets formating abilities are very limited).

One think I would like to see to see Iambic release is an Office application (word, database, etc...). Does anyone know if they are coming out with one in the near future.

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/20/2001 3:52:22 PM #
I'm a QuickSheet user. It's much more than a novelty. I use it to keep track of expenses, sales, time spent on projects, checkbook registry and on and on. I can easily port the data over to HanDbase if I want to make it easier to do data entry (using pop-ups and check boxes). Then I can port the data back over to Quicksheet and run a chart if I want. Very nice.

Of course, I also use it as a golf scorecard too. Hee hee. Yeah, it's kind of a novelty too.

Regarding the new version of TinySheet, I have no reason to switch from QuickSheet, but I'm curious how the new version of TinySheet compares. Please post if someone has used both.

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/20/2001 4:11:45 PM #
My $.02,

I'm a Network Engineer and Docs-To-Go user and find that having copies of sheets on my Palm allows me to carry quite a bit of information to the field. While I can't speak directly about TinySheet, I can contribute a couple general comments about using spreadsheets on my handheld...

I keep records of IP addresses, net connections, equipment lists, etc., etc. This stuff changes constantly and its nice to have a current copy available when I sync. Having all this data available when I'm at a site is great.

I don't do a whole lot of editing, but when need be, its not too bad. Not as easy as the real thing on a PC, but it works.

I have made major strides to banish paper from my life... tools like these go far to make it so.

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
robrecht @ 9/20/2001 4:44:27 PM #
I use QuickSheet extensively to sync and have with me the most up-to-date versions of several Excel files or Excel versions of Access database tables. It is quite useful and convenient and allows for electronic searching and resorting of data that would otherwise require a laptop.

The use of spreadsheets on handhelds is one of the most important reasons for the encouragement of Palm, Handspring, and Sony to adopt the landscapable soft-graffiti screen that is available on the Handera 330c. Especially spreadsheets are much more easily viewed on such a screen.

Thanks, Robrecht

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/20/2001 5:01:26 PM #
I use TinySheet for a variety of purposes: keeping track of things like blood pressure; my employee stock purchase program; and anytime I want to do things like compute probabilities, perform what-if scenarios, etc.

I was skeptical of using a speadsheet on a handheld, but I find I get a fair amount of use from it - sometimes a spreadsheet is just the best tool for the job.

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
NAHuber @ 9/20/2001 5:48:57 PM #
I could not live without my TinySheet. I have also had the opportunity to play with the Beta release of TS4. It's pretty cool and the chart feature is a welcome addition..though somewhat limited in capability. I would not recommend using a huge complex excell file on the palm..for the obvious limited visibility of data..to unwieldy

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/20/2001 6:20:49 PM #
I created a few spreadsheets in Tiny Sheet for someone I work with. He is a loan officer who also owns a Palm (He has a Palm V, and I have a Palm IIIc.) I help him track what loans of his have closed with loan amounts and monthly totals. When he comes up for a sales meeting each month, I beam him those spreadsheets. It's really fun.

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
2sheds @ 9/21/2001 12:21:48 AM #
I would like to answer second poster's question: this summer iambic purchased MegaDoc word processor from Russian developer MegaSoft2000. Obviously, we would have a chance to see next version soon, though I ain't no insider so this is just my suggestion. Remembering outstanding quality of MegaDoc app I think that it would stand up to the challenge offering you as much pleasure in use as TinySheet does.

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/21/2001 12:30:58 AM #
I use MiniCalc all the time (tried TinySheet and Quicksheet - no comparison).

There's nothing like going for a quick meeting at a coffee shop and having a live spreadsheet right there to go over proposals and scenarios with the boss...

The best thing, though, is being able to write and manipulate spreadsheets from the comfort of my couch, cuddling up to my wife rather than at my desk focused on a monitor.

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
flywheel @ 9/21/2001 5:57:08 AM #
Well, I'm new to this world!
And I've never used spreadsheets much anyway...

But....an almost fullblown spreadsheet that I can have in my pocket and is able to update at any time I want to....wonderfull to keep track of expenses....

Last month I bought, by impulse, a Palm Portable Keyboard and WordSmith..and actually it has become my primary wordprocessor...wonderfull for having some work dome during traintravel...
My primary reason for buying something like TinySheet would be to keep track of my expenses...due to the Excel integration I would be able to import the sheet into 1-2-3 for further analysis...

TinySheet 4 is on my to-buy list.
Hopefully BlueNomad will take advantage the the new API for integration purposes....that could be a rather nasty combination...


Live long and prosper...

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
Boomer @ 9/21/2001 8:33:27 AM #
I use MiniCalc - it is awesome. MiniCalc can also use files directly off of the Memory Stick on my Clie.

If you use a spreadsheet on your desktop/laptop, then you will also find it useful on your Palm.
I use it to track expenses, frequent flyer miles, business info [such as login ID's], ...

Having HiRes is what really makes it much more useful - you can actually see more than a few cells.

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/21/2001 5:11:59 PM #
As an engineering student, I used Quicksheet all the time.

I've since graduated, but I still use it often. There are limitations because of the small screen, but's definitely more than a novelty item

RE: How many people are doing spreadsheets on a handheld?
easypeasy @ 5/6/2002 5:09:59 AM #
I used and Excel compatible on my Power Zaurus in 1997.
It was a bit slow then, but has all the basic functions unlike DoToGo :)

See how much we've progressed in five years... now you have to buy it as an optional extra.

argh. iambic, what are you doing?

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/22/2001 3:37:09 AM #
great. woo. like there aren't 17 zillion spreadsheet apps already; COULD YOU PLEASE UPDATE FRIGGIN ACTION NAMES ALREADY? fer cryin' out loud, stop letting your marketing department drive sales, and let customer requests instead...at least for a little bit. i know people who want this, me included.

thanks and with much love.

RE: argh. iambic, what are you doing?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 11:48:47 AM #
I totally second that, and add my argh! to the mix as well.

RE: argh. iambic, what are you doing?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/25/2001 4:58:40 PM #
I second the sentiment of the first comment.

How can Iambic let one of their flagship products (and a very good one too) fall so far behind the operating system? How many months is it now? All their dbase says is 'considered for a future release'

How many angry customers bought it for their m50x and find they can't use - STILL! - their os4 features? In business, the LED is invaluable when a beep just won't do.

Iambic, this is the first product I have bought from you. Please do not make people who bought this since the m50x series came out pay for the upgrade. I won't.


tinysheet v4

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/23/2001 4:25:09 PM #
inspite of many comments from bea users, Iambic issued this new version with major problems including many of the date and time functions don't work!

I can't understand the developer's attitude!!

RE: tinysheet v4
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 8:52:34 AM #
Be sure we did test it and thought all major problems were resolved before release. Anyway, we make all efforts to get bugs fixed as soon as they are discovered, and we're happy that our customers be the real judges!

If you have specific details about any major or minor bugs, please post them so we can look into it more.

Thanks.
J.F.
(iambic development team)

RE: tinysheet v4
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/6/2002 7:13:58 AM #
To Anonymous 9/23, you sounded pretty upset, what happenned to your posts on all of these 'problems' you found?
RE: tinysheet v4
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/6/2002 9:07:33 AM #
> what happenned to your posts on all of these 'problems' you found?

They were sent to iambic during the beta process.

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