The shortest Coda sales pitch for Excel users

Coda is a successor to Excel that

  • makes you bring order to your data, and
  • lets you build docs that are much friendlier to use.

Some are web version excel + apps , like airtable . No docs. It’s web SQL.
Some are outline, like dynalist ,workly , transno. bear. mubu,
Some are just simply move to the web, like shimo - simple Office suite + mindmap ( non-editable)
Some are based on mindmap for task , Grantt
Some are outline + words + advanced excel, like Notion. But more limited .

GSheets need vpn and slowly.

I used most of apps, the Coda is the best.

Coda is more free and powerful for top used, others is second.

The most I like is Docs - Folders - Sections 3 levels structure. Wow ! It’s really smart .

You know, many web doc is just a doc, like WORD.

In Coda :
a Doc — a Disk
a folder ----a Folder
a section ---- a file

But no one can complete replace each others.

I often use those apps for efficiency and function.

But I think Coda will eliminate based on outline app, dynalist , transo, mubu …e.g.



I like brief, concise reasons that compel me to make changes. And while there’s certainly plenty of evidence that Coda can make Excel users very happy, I tend to see clients’ faces light up most when they see opportunities to do things they could never do [practically] before.

This is the magic of Coda; an architectural underpinning that puts new processes and information management ideas well within reach of business workers and professionals.

Most Excel users are Excel users because it already brings [better] order to their data, and in a friendly approach. They already believe - for the most part - that Excel is everything they need and a wonderful alternative to other less orderly and less friendly approaches. After all, what could be better than something that is awesome and works for everyone in their organization?

When I go into sales-mode for a Coda-base solution, I tend to accentuate the opportunity to advance business process and operational performance by demonstrating how a team can apply Coda using features and benefits that are near-impossible to do in Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, Word, etc.

The simple ability to blend data from different sources into a single, well-structured document, or the ease with which lightweight processes can be integrated into the document using buttons and actions that are user-chummy all conspire to change the document game. It is the alchemy of activities and outcomes that truly set Coda apart from everything.

This is the blue ocean promise of Coda and made possible by Coda (as a force in the document business) and especially for Makers who want to differentiate their services to advance their work as employees or solution providers.


Hey @Paul_Danyliuk, I just couldn’t resist responding to this one. I am I continuing to ramp up my efforts to solve what I’m trying to do in Coda - in a few instances with your help, many thanks - in the last two weeks. As a non-dev, but “somewhat technical” manager in a software company, and also the decider of my team about which solution we will use to manage our processes, something hit me recently that seems partially relevant to this thread, and I think very relevant to those coming over from MS office:

I know this is a lot of the vision and messaging of Coda, but it is so much more than an Excel replacement, and so much more than a Doc.

I really think Coda is much more comparable to MS Access than Excel in fact.

For a non-advanced user of Excel - and I’m betting most of the active Excel-users in the community here are so good they could work as certified consultants charging $100’s by the hour, so this doesn’t apply to many of you :slight_smile: - a lot of the Coda functionality that differentiates Coda from Excel, and where Coda works more as an app, is very challenging. Paul this post you wrote recently to help me:

You are providing a feature I’d really like in my attempts at creating hierarchies - making sure circular references are avoided, and keeping integrity within ancestral/descendant relationships. But this is very advanced, and I wonder how many non-developers or non-DB veterans could implement what you suggest quickly. I never got very far with MS Access or any other DB’s, but this type of stuff is not something I would have even thought to accomplish in Excel in the first place.

That said, there is great replication, with improvement, of Excel functionality in Coda all around. I am comfortable managing some lists of data I’ve moved from Excel. I’m doing things like quick-moving through sheets via the cursor on the keyboard, highlighting columns, adding rows, etc in Coda that are features I appreciated in Excel. And there are the improvements over Excel: Grouping is a great solution by the Coda team that is tons easier to use that Pivot Tables in Excel. One of my Coda successes is a simple tracker I set up to compare my various testing of the multitude of management apps out there. Using things like @mentions of rows in Rich Text columns to keep notes - tremendous! And I’ve found Coda does this tons better than, say, Notion or Air Table, apps I in fact track in this very Coda Doc!

I know Coda talks a lot in Marketing material and generally about being an Excel replacement. My main point is that, intended or not, the way Coda has developed, it’s so much more than Excel. But it does require advanced Excel skills, or more, to master. Comparing Coda to Excel I think is like comparing Excel itself to a table in Word.

Word table - can be replaced by Excel, but Excel offers so much more.
Excel - can be replaced by Coda, but Coda offers so much more.

And I do think “doc” can be a misnomer for what Coda is able to do. If you look at all major productivity apps - they have almost the identical structure as Coda, but across the entire app:

  • Left-pane based hierarchy for major areas of the app - often called “Spaces” or “Folders”
  • Some kind of list or grouping of types of entities or tasks, essentially Coda “rows”
  • Dashboards, reports, etc. which equate with Table Views.

And a host of other thing Coda offers like integrations, automations, notifications, etc. etc.

I mean this as an accolade to Coda. Just like with the comparison with Excel being limited, the potential of Coda docs is such that they are capable of being full on Management Systems! Yet, you can easily use Coda to manage a simple list of clients, like in a spreadsheet, or write down some notes with good structure, like in a doc, and leave it at that. This is really a fabulously well-thought out tool than can handle all of this!

In closing, I wanted to add that I saw this come through yesterday:

It made a lot of sense to me. With the current stage of Coda’s development, I think there is degree of advanced DB/developer knowledge needed to accomplish things that other task/project management apps have built in. Fundamental Excel skills, or maybe even intermediate, are insufficient to accomplish most of the great stuff here in the community. I agree the value of apps being built by the Makers here in the community is such that there is monetary value to them. Along these lines, I will add that I greatly hope Coda does not ever go down the road of Atlassian and open up for 3rd party apps. I have struggled with most Jira apps I’ve used. I think Jira itself has suffered with the proliferation of these apps, as Atlassian has not taken on development of a lot of key features they are leaving to questionable-quality 3rd party developers.

Kudos to Coda, and my admiration to both of you @Paul_Danyliuk and @Bill_French for your adoption and mastery of this cutting edge piece of software. So much more than an Excel replacement!!

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Astute observation. Let’s revisit the past 32 years in personal databases …

dBASE II --> dBASE III --> dBASE IV --> Clipper --> FoxPro --> MS Access --> AirTable

What’s the common thread? Everyday business professionals can build stuff that helps them.

What’s the common operating ceiling? It’s all just data and some distractions that attempt to overcome the limitations for that data to participate at a document level.

@Bill_French, always great to get your wise words!

Having just written a treatise on how challenging I find Coda, I have to say that all in all I am very impressed with how much I can do without any DB training. So just in case what I wrote seemed to indicate that Coda is “too hard” for non-technical types, in fact you are point out how much Coda has enabled. When you say:

This makes me think about my own experience with Coda. I think a good way to summarize objectively is that Coda in enabling so much that was previously unavailable to non-dev types, that it’s got me actually trying to do more than I am probably capable!


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Yet another astute comment.

Recall two decades ago when AI began to make waves. Fast forward to 2020 where analysts are still asking - when will AI actually work? Robotics has a similar bad wrap.

The reality is - AI (and robotics) is everywhere but it so well integrated and seamlessly applied that we don’t recognize it as “AI” per-se; rather - it’s simply “smart” products, services, etc.

The hidden side of AI is no different than some of the magical elements of Coda; we simply lack memory, context, and juxtaposition to measure just how advanced our document activities may actually be.

There are things in Coda that if I was able to demonstrate as late as 2005 would have likely landed me in Area 51 tagged as an alien from another world, or strapped to a plank and burned like a witch.

I often feel this way when jumping from server-side Javascript (my common integration language) to work on a data science project for a few weeks using Python. This is akin to switching from a Google Doc to Coda. Python is so far advanced in matters of data science and visualization that it’s extremely painful to switch back to javascript. But it does reset your level of appreciation for the underlying technology required to make your life and work so much better.

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This is a great pitch. Just a heads up, @maria and I are doing a series of Crowdcasts on translating spreadsheets into Coda doc. Our first one was today on translating a Google Sheet of salary data into a interactive Coda doc.