Look inside formulas
Formula Forge adds a task pane to Excel, and it uses this pane to present three synchronized views of a formula that clarity its meaning and its evaluation.
- Text view – the formula as it appears in Excel's formula bar
- Math view – the formula typeset to aid recognition
Tree view – a structural view to
- organize subexpressions
- display their values
- expand and collapse their display
Synchronized views help users see the structure of their formulas and allow them to concentrate on portions of particular interest. Coordinated highlighting links subexpressions across the views.
Users can collapse parts of a formula in the tree view to focus their attention on other parts, and they can substitute ellipses (...) or values in the math and text views for the collapsed parts. These capabilities let user simplify parts of a formula, thereby making it easier to understand.
Work inside formulas
When configured for editing, Formula Forge's task pane provides a palette of items that can be dragged and dropped into the tree view. It also allows
- Moving elements within a formula
- Creating new elements from items in a palette
- Creating and using named elements called scraps
Formula Forge allows users to edit without worrying about the parentheses, which Excel requires to specify the order of computation. With Formula Forge, this order is determined by the hierarchical diagram in the tree view. As a result, users get the order right, without ever again having to worry about parentheses.
Editing is easy with drag and drop. With the aid of the palette, users can change the elements in a formula or create a new formula from scratch. Scraps let users analyze and debug one element at a time. They can create a scrap for any element using drag and drop, and they can display the scrap and edit it in the simultaneous views as if it were the entire formula. They can also drag any scrap into the tree view to incorporate it into a formula. That way, they can construct, debug, and assemble building blocks for a formula easily, accurately, and productively.
Further Aid to Comprehension
The Formula Forge pane provides an aid to comprehension beyond the ability to collapse and expand subexpressions: it lets users assign local names, called aliases, to scraps and to substitute the alias for the text of the scrap wherever it occurs. This capability provides additional clarity.