I’m hijacking my own thread to talk a bit about this idea.
I think Coda has an opportunity to do more here than just allow large editing windows. They are uniquely positioned to completely change how people think about the experience of writing formulas.
They can make formula readability a first class goal.
One of python’s great attractions to even highly competent programmers is that it is extremely readable. There’s a famous aphorism that goes,
“75% of your time is spent reading code, not writing it.”
The exact number fluctuates, but the sentiment is the same. Maintenance is more common than creation.
Transitioning from excel to coda was brutal because excel is completely unreadable. No wonder companies end up using the same unchanged, brittle document for years.
With the beauty of Coda canvases, formula documentation should be more than mere comments. Formula writing should be an interactive, colorful, descriptive experience. More like Jupyter notebooks than blocks of grey text.
In each of my documents I add a page like this dedicated to documenting formulas. It saves me time, catches bugs, and ensures that anyone that might come after me will have an easier time of maintaining the system.
For me, it is a very manual approach at the moment that involves a lot of copy and pasting, and renaming a column causes a lot of work, but imagine if you could do something like:
and then type in the name of the formula you wanted to edit:
[Next Comparison Button]
and it would bring in a live, full page-width formula editor.
We could pop this open when we wanted to dig deep on a formula and delete it once it works. Alternatively, we can dedicate an entire page to documenting all our formulas—color annotating and bolding the different parts like we would any other text document meant to be understood, not just tolerated.