Rant about feature releases

10/04/19 Edited 12/09/19

Hi smartsheet community...I have been a smartsheet user for over a year. I have to rant a little bit. Indulge me if you wish, ignore me if you would like..but I had to get this off my chest...

Does anyone else feel like the new features that came out of engage19 were a total dud? I think the most useful thing that came out of it was the ability to automate moving a row to another sheet, and to be honest, that feels like a feature that should been available long ago. That could have been a midyear random rollout, not a major upgrade announcement! 

It feels like every time I want to add functionality to our sheets that would benefit our team, I hit a wall. I open a new tab and search the forums to see if someone else has figured it our...and most of the time end up with a forum thread where someone asks how to do the same thing, someone else says no you can't, and then a bunch of users chime in with "yeah this would be awesome, a no brainer, etc"...and the thread is years old with no implementation.

Examples:

1) Dropdown fields populated with vlookup type functionality so you can reference the same options across multiple sheets.

2) Formula to have a url in a cell with shortened text so you a link is not miles long.

3) Formulas automatically entered when a new row is added (without needing all the dizzying conditions of number of rows above or below with formulas, etc...just let my formulas live so users don't have to worry about it!)

4) Sheet headers so we can have fields at the top of sheet that are not bound by column properties.

5) Conditional Data....think conditional formatting or if/then logic that can input/change cell data. 

and I'm sure there is more...but I'm too annoyed to think of them while I'm mid rant.

Anyways....smartsheet devs...pay more attention to the forums! People are asking for the same stuff over and over again.

 

Comments

  • Paul NewcomePaul Newcome ✭✭✭✭✭

    1. Can you explain this in more detail? VLOOKUP works just fine in dropdown fields, so I am not sure what you are referring to exactly.

     

    2. When you use the Hyperlink function in a cell, you have the option of displaying whatever text you want. (1st screenshot).

     

    3. I am not sure what you mean by "dizzying conditions". As long as the 2 rows before the new row (regardless of direction) have the formula, the auto-fill will kick in. If you don't have something pre-established, how would it know what to auto-fill?

     

    4. Check out the Sheet Summary feature. It may not necessarily be at the top of the sheet, but it is attached to the sheet. It can be referenced from the sheet and can contain formulas referencing the sheet. It can be used by reports and dashboards. It is almost exactly what you are talking about except on the side instead of at the top.

     

    5. Can you explain more on this as well? 

    Comm1_4.PNG

    thinkspi.com

  • Thanks for chiming in Paul:

     

    1. Can you explain this in more detail? VLOOKUP works just fine in dropdown fields, so I am not sure what you are referring to exactly.  I mean the ability to populate the choices in the properties of a dropdown list from a list on another sheet.  Example: Sheet A is a list of all of our open projects. Sheet B is a sheet where we assign tasks to staff. Sheet B has a column called Project Name that the user selects when adding a new task. In order for the list of projects to appear in the dropdown, the column properties must have that info manually entered. In my proposed scenario, Sheet A would be updated with new project names, and the dropdown in Sheet B and may other sheets across our company would automatically have those new project names in the dropdown. 

    2. When you use the Hyperlink function in a cell, you have the option of displaying whatever text you want. (1st screenshot).  Yes if you are manually entering a url you can set the display text. But if I am building URLs using a formula then there is no way to code the display text into the formula. This would be useful for long URLs or just to be more informative to the end user. 

    3. I am not sure what you mean by "dizzying conditions". As long as the 2 rows before the new row (regardless of direction) have the formula, the auto-fill will kick in. If you don't have something pre-established, how would it know what to auto-fill?  It's not that straight forward. It works sometimes, but not always. And for a power user it may be obvious, but when you are distributing sheets across an enterprise and expecting things to work consistently, the ease of use is important. This could be accomplished by giving the option of creating a "template" row for a sheet. Maybe in the context menu, where insert rows above and below appear, there could be a third option for insert programmed row...or something like that.

    4. Check out the Sheet Summary feature. It may not necessarily be at the top of the sheet, but it is attached to the sheet. It can be referenced from the sheet and can contain formulas referencing the sheet. It can be used by reports and dashboards. It is almost exactly what you are talking about except on the side instead of at the top. I will have to play with this more. I haven't checked yet, but hoping that a Sheet Summary can have formulas transfer over when using templates.

    5. Can you explain more on this as well?  Sure...so conditional formatting takes data logic and changes the appearance of a row or cell. It is basically an if then statement. If column "Done" equals "yes" then fill row in Green and change font to Italic.   This is helpful for visual feedback. Conditional Data would help with automation of information by allowing cell contents to be filled based on if then logic.    If "Done1" equals yes, then "Assigned to" equals "Jon Doe". That's a simple example, but the ideas are endless for that kind of use. Your obvious answer would be, so build the if/then statement. And yes, of course...but the conditional format wizard makes this much easier and it 100% works with new rows without having to worry about formulas flowing forward...see item 3.

     

     

  • Paul NewcomePaul Newcome ✭✭✭✭✭

    First I'd like to thank you for actually explaining without becoming hostile and/or aggressive. I have come across a few people that would become both simply because I asked for clarity or provided a different point of view or option. Your response in general is rather refreshing. yes

     

    In an effort to keep from having a single response span numerous pages, I will just re-refer to the numbers again with a brief overview instead of copy/pasting word for word each of our responses. Please keep in mind that if my re-wording of something in particular seems wrong or different, it is not intentional. I have this duplicated on a second screen to be sure that I can keep things straight.

     

    So here goes (summary of my responses at the bottom if you don't feel like reading haha)...

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    1. OP: Dropdown fields populated with vlookup type functionality so you can reference the same options across multiple sheets.

    Me: Incorrectly thought you meant using a VLOOKUP to populate a cell in a dropdown type column.

    Your Clarification: A list on a sheet that can be referenced by the "Values" portion when determining the options presented by the dropdown column itself.

    My response: Your clarification certainly makes more sense now. This is something you will see frequently referred to here within the Community as a "Dynamic Dropdown". It is definitely a regular request and definitely would be extremely useful. If you haven't already, I suggest a Product Enhancement Request.

     

    I know it seems like the devs don't pay attention to the Community, but I have seen first hand that they do. It just may be that certain other features have taken priority.

    .

    2. OP: Formula to have a url in a cell with shortened text so you a link is not miles long.

    Me: Suggested the "Display text" portion of creating a hyperlink.

    Your Clarification: What about when you use a formula to build the URL?

    My response: Your use case makes perfect sense, and I agree that having shortened URL's when entered into the sheet this way would be rather beneficial.

     

    I don't know if it is an option, but aren't there tools that provide shortened URL's? Would you be able to use one of those and then use that shortened version? I am not too familiar with exactly how they work, so I am just throwing out ideas here.

    .

    3. OP: Formulas automatically entered when a new row is added (without needing all the dizzying conditions of number of rows above or below with formulas, etc...just let my formulas live so users don't have to worry about it!)

    Me: Referenced having 2 previous rows with formulas established not seeming like "dizzying conditions" to me.

    Your Clarification: It works sometimes but not always. You suggested a "template row" type of feature that works similar to the "insert row" feature.

    My Response: You are correct. It is not as straight forward as just having two rows pre-filled. They have to be of the same hierarchy level as well which can put a damper on using Child rows when forms a used to populate the sheet. I don't have any problems with inconsistency though when inserting new rows into the middle of a sheet.

     

    So in a way I agree that the auto-fill could be improved upon, but I personally don't think it's really all that bad either. Even for "non-power" users. I haven't seen or heard of anyone I work with finding it very complicated at all.

     

    I also don't see how a "template" row would act any differently than ensuring the previous two rows have the formulas.

     

    HOWEVER... (and I kind of feel like maybe this ties into #5 as well)

     

    If we had an option not on the row level but on the COLUMN level... Where we could open the column properties and have somewhere to include a "default value" whether that be free text or a formula... I personally feel like that would be a bigger enhancement than trying to tackle it on a row level.

    .

    4. OP: Sheet headers so we can have fields at the top of sheet that are not bound by column properties.

    Me: Suggested the Sheet Summary feature. It is on the side of the sheet instead of at the top how you suggested in your original post, but works very much the same way.

    You: Not very experienced with this feature. Questioning formula pull-through in templates.

    My Response: The sheet summary acts almost like a sheet within the sheet. You can reference the sheet directly in the summary using formulas just like you would if you were entering a formula on the main portion of the sheet. You can reference the summary fields on the sheet itself within formulas using very simple references.

     

    And yes... Formulas do pull through when entered into a sheet summary that is then used as a template. You can also take that sheet summary and copy it to other sheets (unlimited in number but there is a limit when copying to other sheets in bulk) if you happen to update the summary after the template has already been used.

     

    Overall the Sheet Summary is definitely a very useful feature worth looking into. It can even be separately referenced in it's own reports.

    .

    5. OP: Conditional Data....think conditional formatting or if/then logic that can input/change cell data. 

    Me: Can you explain?

    You: Explained that it is similar to an if/then type of formula in that it changes the data displayed, but is built into the sheet more like conditional FORMATTING than a pre-filled row (ties into #3).

    My Response: I see exactly what you mean, and the best response I could give would be to refer back to my response for #3.

     

    I think that if we could leverage a "default value" type of feature on the column level, it would very much so help alleviate the auto-fill requirements/limitations and because it is built into the column properties, it may be easier on the back-end (I am NOT a programmer, so I am just taking a guess at this point) to build than if it were in a separate builder that was more similar to the conditional formatting builder.

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    .

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    So basically numbers 1 and 2, I understand what you are saying now and agree.

    .

    Number 3: It seems like we don't quite seem "eye-to-eye" on this one. Similar view points, but not quite the same. This is referring strictly to the "dizzying conditions" portion. The rest of the conversation about #3 I think ties more closely into #5.

    To me, #3 seems more like a complaint/request for change whereas #5 is more of a solution/suggestion that can cover quite a few different things (one of which just so happens to be #3). While they do have a lot of similarities, I definitely think they can be two separate conversations.

    .

    Number 4... I really do feel like the Sheet Summary can be leveraged to fit almost exactly what you are looking for with the exception of it's physical location (side of sheet vs top of sheet). I hope you are able to dive into it and that it is helpful for your needs.

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    and finally

     

    Number 5. I understand what you are attempting to achieve, but I don't quite agree on the execution. You referenced more of a conditional formatting type of approach, but I feel like a column properties approach might be better overall. What are your thoughts on that?

    thinkspi.com

  • Paul,

     

    I am also thankful for your thorough and respectful dialogue. My initial post was definitely antagonistic and came from a place of geyser like pent up frustrated energy. 

     

    1) Product enhancement request will be submitted today. Thanks.

    2) I believe you are referring to bit.ly or similar. That works to shorten a URL manually. I am using concatenate to generate urls as shortcuts on the sheets for users to navigate directly to the web destination for them to complete the assigned task. Since it is a url that is the result of a formula, there would be no way to use a shortening service to dynamically build the shortened urls. My use case is somewhat unique, but I did come across a community thread that had others asking for same.

    3) Maybe my "dizzying conditions" verbiage is extreme, but I find that formulas copying over when adding a new row to be cumbersome. Your own response of previous two rows pre-filled, unless it's a child etc is the type of logic that standard users do not always follow. Anyhow, I really like your default value idea. That would go a long way.

    4) I am going to spend some downtime playing with summaries. I think you are correct. (At the top or side matters not to me, just the ability to have static information that is not restricted by column properties or impacted by sorting)

    5) Yes similar to 3. Default value if it could be a formula would address this.

    Thanks again!

  • Paul NewcomePaul Newcome ✭✭✭✭✭

    "geyser like pent up frustrated energy"... If you haven't experienced this at least once with Smartsheet, then you're either not using it very much  or you're doing something wrong. Hahahaha.

    .

    1. I also suggest the same for #'s 2, 3, and 5.

    2. I didn't even know you could build an active URL via a formula. That's actually pretty neat and something I might have to play with. See #1.

    3. I think the biggest difference between you and I on this one is our experience with a "standard user". The company I work for definitely pushes to have all users Product Certified. Even if not everyone is building formulas or complex sheets, there is definitely a higher level of insight that comes with being product certified vs just having a little bit of experience filling in some cells in Excel.

     

    Having a high concentration of certified users, I guess I have just become accustomed to (and have taken for granted) what is considered "standard" or "basic".

    4. I do hope it works for you.

    5. See #1 again. Haha

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    Good talking to you! I hope things start running a little smoother for you here before too long. Without SS publicizing their pipeline for features and developments, it's hard to tell what may be just on the horizon.

     

    I do know the recent acquisition of 10,000ft. (and I think one other platform or company) means that a lot of frequently asked for features are more possible and more likely than ever.

    thinkspi.com

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