|||

Microsoft Office makes people worse at software.[^1]

I work with engineers - people that know their way around power electronics and embedded software[^2]. But somehow, no one seems to know how version control works. I lay the blame squarely at the feet of Microsoft Office.

In my first C programming class, we only received grades on work that we checked in using the version control software[^3]. It was a revelation to me, at the time, that there existed a way to collaborate on software (or any other electronic documents). This is likely because I did most of my document editing in high school in - what else - Microsoft Word.

So why has this revelation failed to bubble up to the (too) many companies with Microsoft enterprise agreements? Sure, my first introduction was via the command line, but Dropbox and Google Docs have shown it can be done in a user-friendly GUI. I constantly see coworkers go to the not-so-great length of changing a date in the document title and think Boom - new version.” Or, even better - send out a document for several people to edit, who return their input as Title - MM/DD/YY - Employee Initials”. It seems crazy that 1.) no one has thought we should think of a better engineered solution to this”, and then 2.) oh wait, IT ALREADY EXISTS.”

Even though it is not built into Office directly, I know version control is available for it now. I have even used it! Microsoft’s sort-of-cloud solution, Sharepoint, has version control and document check-out baked right in. It is buried in some context menu somewhere (proving my conspiracy theory that MS does not want you to use it), but it is there. Yet somehow we still create an Archive folder with all the previous, dated documents. It is a waste of storage space, a huge time suck, and can be extremely confusing.

I write this both as an admonishment for the workflows at my company, and as an acknowledgement that I am falling for it too. I have started to do this, mostly because my colleagues do, even though I know it is a terrible habit. The first step is admitting you have a problem. I look forward to apologizing to all the spreadsheets I have wronged in the past.

And don’t get me started on the crazy things people put into Excel.[^4]


  1. I have not decided if this thesis is worth a series of posts. It might be, but this is the only example I could come up with so far. 
  2. I know the software team uses it for their software, and yet they don’t for any documents shared with other groups. How does that make sense to anyone? 
  3. It was a Unix system, and I can’t even remember the commands for committing code now. But I remember the concept, which is more important. (Right?) 
  4. It is not for presentations. That is why they made Powerpoint. 
Up next The Indie Web I have been griping about leaving Facebook and owning my data for a while now, but I may have finally found a solution. The indie web, its called. alright. I normally only get sandwiches that are “DECENT” or “JUST OK”
Latest posts (and 2017 as well) All my open tabs, June 29 2018 setting up blot. Micro.blog community resources happy father’s day! call your representatives love seeing Venture Bros. recommendations in the feed 📺 watching Space Jam. an rainy afternoon well spent Notion comes to Android dumbest timeline 06 04 jfc this guy Gameboy Camera telephoto lens testing Bridgy Publish to Twitter Displaying Twitter archives watching Coco these look pretty cool 🎧 huzzah! GPM saved Facebook and Google hit with $8.8 billion in lawsuits on day one of GDPR Product management myths Wordpress Post Kinds bookmarklets same micropub issue with Reclaim URL shuffle and Indieweb itches @mikedotfm I will miss being able to upload music along side the streaming library, but I guess that is what a Plex server is for our Peruvian beef spaniel Charlie turned 6 today. doesn’t look a day over 4 dell touchpads are hot garbage just a normal mother’s day brunch playing with normal toddler toys 05 10 nerd alert @dapilcher Stardew Valley. Also, get to work I found a new favorite website http://clicksandhisses.com @dapilcher like a pirate angel of a movie bought a new laptop 2 weeks ago on Amazon. ANT-FARM KEY-BOARD ANT-FARM KEY-BOARD