The shortest Coda sales pitch for Excel users

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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