Excel Unplugged

Amsterdam Excel Summit Report

Whereas this post does not contain any excel shortcuts or commands, it does contain plenty of information I wish I had when I was trying to expand my Excel horizons. It also mentions quite a few EXCELebrities (that’s how I call them), that I had the honor to meet at this summit. But basically this are my impressions, put on digital paper, after attending the Amsterdam Excel Summit on the 13th and 14th of April 2015.

If you are like me and you really like Excel, then you know that it’s quite hard to find fellow enthusiasts and once you’ve reached a certain level of knowledge and understanding in Excel, It’s also quite difficult to find people you can learn from. So any Excel themed event should be heavily anticipated. But such anticipation usually leads to disappointment, since the expectations seem to grow too big. But in the case of the Amsterdam Excel Summit, nothing couldn’t be further from the truth.

But first thing first. A big thank you goes out to two Dutch Microsoft MVPs without whom this event would never lift off the ground. Jan Karel Pieterse and Tony De Jonker are the men behind this event and they did an amazing job putting it together! They have choosen Amsterdam to host the summit and that was a great decision on their part because it really is a beautiful city with many interesting spots.

But the location of the event itself was even better, it was a building that rose over the entire surroundings and the view we had during the event was just incredible.

And with this the stage was set. Before I mention more brilliant EXCELebrities I met there I would just like to mention how all the participants seemed to only need two sentences after first laying eyes on each other and deep Excel talks were already on the way. I had a privilege of meeting many Excel Trainers and Developers and no doubt future EXCELebrities like Anne Walsh, a great Excel Trainer from Ireland that has great video tutorials on her blog called The Excel Expert. I also met David Hoppe, a man that will knock your socks off with his Dashboards one of which can be seen here. Still waiting for your blog, David!

And then there is Dick Moffat. One of those rare people that always speak their mind and in this case, you better listen, because this man has done it all when it comes to Excel. You can learn from him on his blog. It was a great honor to learn from you, Dick!

As to the proof of how unique was this gathering, halfway through day one, Bob Umlas took center stage and had a few minutes long Tips and Tricks talk that to me had the greatest NTLpH (new things learned per hour) rate I ever saw. Of course that was to be expected from one of the first Excel MVPs! But when he finished his talk, it turned out, he was sitting right behind me and when I complemented him and thanked him for his talk, the man just flat out gave me his book This Isn’t Excel, It’s Magic!.
I finished reading at 3AM the next day J. One of the best Excel short and sweet tips and tricks book ever! Thanks again Bob.

Next up was Ken Puls, and he is the guy you turn to, when you have a question about the greatest revolution in Excel since the Pivot Tables, Power Query. For those of you, that are reading Excel Unplugged, you know that Power Query or in fact all of Power BI is of great interest to me and the talks that Ken had, just opened a whole new world of options in this area for me, so you can expect quite a few new posts in the future J. It’s also worth mentioning that Ken has that great ability to talk, as if he is in a bar, with a great amount of humor and while you don’t even know it, you are learning a lot. If you want to learn from him, he has a blog called Excel Guru and he says that it updates every Wednesday morning. And If you ever meet the man, ask him for one of his business cards, because they are as informative as they are hilarious J

Next EXCELebrity is Jon Peltier. Now this is the guy that knows everything there is to know about charts and better yet, he has no hesitations to share that knowledge. In the two days of the summit, he gave me many great ideas about how to optimize my charts and even solved some charting problems for me that I thought were unsolvable. You can read about his techniques on his blog or better yet, just save yourself a lot of time and get one of his great Excel charting add-ins. I particularly recommend the advanced edition of his charting utility. If this doesn’t give you the chart you want, then only one man can help you. You’ve guessed it, it’s Jon J.

I also had the privilege of meeting Charles Williams. He has that English dry and very Monty Python like humor which I love. He should be your go to guy if you’re writing VBA modules or UDF’s in Excel. If they take ten seconds now, chances are that Charles can make it finish in under a second. If you are interested in that, here is his blog called Excel and UDF Performance Stuff. He and Jan Karel Pieterse also have an AddIn for Excel called Fast Excel that will allow you to optimize your VBA and your workbooks since it shows you how fast the calculations are occurring and you can analyze that down to just a range of cells. A great tool for every Excel Developer out there.

There were far more interesting people there than I could write here, but let me finish with this. On top of everything, Microsoft folks were there, and somehow Excel 2016 that we saw there was completely different than Excel 2016 that you can download as a public preview at this time J So those that were there know exactly where Excel is going and why Power Query should be studied by everyone J.

So for everyone in Europe, see you next year in Amsterdam, trust me that this is something you don’t want to miss.