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Formatting can be one of the most time consuming and least productive activities of building a spreadsheet. If you wanted to save time, you’d need to learn keyboard shortcuts. I’ve used Alt+HBO a million times. If you’re not a power user, then you’re definitely spending too much time on formatting and I feel your pain, or… your spreadsheet doesn’t look great.
We shouldn’t need to spend hours keeping our spreadsheets formatted! This is one of the reasons we built Subset. We wanted a spreadsheet that enables better design, by default. After working with spreadsheets for years, we developed an intuition for how they should look, feel, and work, and we’ve built thousands of these small decisions into Subset.
If you’ve ever spent too much time trying to format a spreadsheet, let us know and we’ll see if we can eliminate it!
We moved files to a collapsible sidebar and moved the toolbar to the left side of the canvas. The goal is to get controls out of the way and allow you to focus more on your canvas and spreadsheets. Thank you to those who helped prototype designs for this! Let us know what you think.
You will now see live cursors for anyone using subset live with you! This is in addition to showing which cell they’re selected in, as well as any block, with a colored outline.
Many of you have told us that you like our “minimal design” with our toolbar up top and our floating tooltips when you select a block. We like it too because it gives you more space on the canvas to actually do work. But we noticed, that sometimes for beginners, there isn’t enough context to know what each button does. This week we added images and descriptions into each of our icons upon hover to give a quick reminder of what each button does
Sections, grouping, or some way to better organize the canvas has been one of the most common requests we’ve gotten so far, so we’re excited to release sections this week. Simply move any grid, chart, or text block into a section just by dragging it in.
The other big change you’ll notice this week is a simpler UI for sorting, filtering, autofills, and other configurations. We originally had a lot of the UI in a panel on the right side of the canvas, but felt it was too disconnected from where the action was. We’ve redesigned how these menus work, and the ability to edit or configure them is right where they were created.
Diagramming helps us make sense of how something complicated works.
We draw lines to communicate context and logic flow. Yet there's no easy way to do this with a spreadsheet, one of the most complicated things we deal with on a daily basis.
Drawing lines can answer the most common spreadsheet questions. Where is the data coming from? Why do these numbers change when I change this cell? Where are the inputs to this model? A single connection between two blocks can make everything clear.
This is one of the most obvious reasons for putting a spreadsheet on a canvas, so we felt we had to build it. There's a lot more to do here, but a simple connection is our first step. We're excited to see how you use it, and where you want us to take it.
How it works: Click and drag from the blue connector to another block and a connector will be created. If you want to delete it, just click and press the trash icon or hit the delete key.
We’re obsessed with making Subset’s spreadsheet feel endless, even when it doesn’t look like it is.
The spreadsheet was the original infinite canvas, and we want to preserve that feeling. But the Subset canvas can become cluttered by a big grid. Dealing with the spacing then breaks your flow, which is not a great experience.
We’ve been working on ways to handle the layout automatically, while still feeling endless, to keep you in flow. Below are some of the updates!
The beauty of Subset is that your data is separated into their own discrete blocks and you can see them all at once. This led to the natural problem of blocks colliding into one another when you increase the number of rows or columns. We’ve shipped a way to prevent them from overlapping.
We hesitated to introduce a "snap to grid" on Subset, but after some overwhelming feedback, we decided to ship it. Now your grids snap to the canvas. This should make alignment of grids easier.
If you’ve ever built a spreadsheet with a bit of complexity, you’ve probably experienced this feeling of accomplishment when it all ties together. You know how to use it precisely so that it doesn’t break because you’ve written every formula yourself. It may not be perfect, but you know this house inside and out, and you should be proud of it!
Then you share it with someone, and suddenly it feels like a house of cards. Without any context on how it all works, we expect collaborators to perfectly dance around all the nuances. Inevitably, they add a single row and everything #REFs out.
They give up, ask you for help, and now you have to make a copy so they don’t do any permanent damage and walk through it live.
They obviously didn’t build it with you, but they still need to use it without breaking it. You want them to find it useful and appreciate this amazing spreadsheet you’ve built, without having to hand hold them through it all. That’s why we built Preview Mode — a simplified interface to focus on using the spreadsheet, not building it.
Enable collaborators to use the file without needing to know how it all works! We’ve hid the toolbars, removed the row numbers, and added guardrails around accidentally breaking the sheet, so everyone can focus on their own changes.Whenever you do want to edit the structure, you can simply switch back into editor mode Will adding a row or column break some formula? You can lock blocks and prevent that from happening. Have a giant table with a bunch of complex calculations? Hide it from preview mode. We want you to be able to create powerful automated spreadsheets that you can share with others.
The other big change you’ll notice this week is that we changed how the toolbars look. We’ve moved them closer to where you’re working. Formatting toolbars are now above the block you’re currently editing, instead of always at the very top of your screen. We also simplified the block creation toolbar to only show you icons for things you can add to the canvas.
Individual files and spreadsheets often feel too ephemeral. We get lost in an endless list of sheets and files, and forget why we ever even created that one credit card expense tracker 3 years ago. If we had just remembered to keep it up to date, maybe we’d have actually stuck to our budget that year.
This is why Subset now shows you all the files in your own workspace right inside the canvas. We want you to have all the context you need and be able to quickly jump between files. The next time you open up your credit card charges, you’ll remember you already did all the hard work putting one together last year.
We’ll be releasing a bunch of improvements to this in the coming weeks. Nested folders, reordering, favorites, duplicating files, and team workspaces, but we’re so excited about this small but big change that we wanted to ship it today.
We think this navigator gives Subset a feeling of more permanence, a home for your analysis. Spreadsheets don’t need to be one-off tools that we forget about, or always end up starting from scratch. We want you to create your own toolkit, and be able to reuse them later. Keep all these trackers, calculators, and reporting tools in a place you’ll remember.
We’re working on an entirely new toolbar with the goal of putting the buttons closer to where your mouse actually is when you’ve selected something, stay tuned for that!
You can drag a xlsx file directly onto the canvas. Each sheet will appear as a new block.
The multi-select tool is now default enabled. You can now click and drag to select multiple grids. You can toggle to use the hand tool, which can be used for panning.
Full columns and rows can now be copied and pasted. If you’re a full spreadsheet-nerd like some of us, you can see above that we built a new way to paste transpose between columns and rows. If you tried that in Sheets or Excel you would probably be surprised at what happens. We pushed a big performance update on copy and paste as well. Cells with formats will now paste ~10x faster than before.
This week we shipped a highly requested feature — summary footers! In addition, we pushed a big performance update. Formula calculation should complete 10-100x faster than before, especially when working off imported data. We’re continuing to push performance updates this month, so let us know if what you’re working on is lagging. Check out more updates below!
If they don’t have an account, they will get an email prompting them to create one. You still have the option to make a subset public, so anyone can join via a link whether or not they have an account. We’ll be adding more permissions like “can view” and “can comment” soon!
Any file you view will now show up in your recents as well as shared with you, in addition to all your personal files and saved subsets.
The chart config menu will now stay open while editing your chart’s data. You can also format your x axis labels by updating your cell formats.
You can now sort and filter block references. This can be really helpful for data manipulation tasks like removing duplicates, summarizing data, and more…
If you ever start typing out names of columns in row 1 or any row, but then realize you want them to be the name of each column you can use this shortcut to quickly update the column names.
You can now split grids into smaller grids. We've found this to be really useful for adding structure organically over time to your sheets. Deciding where to put data ahead of time can be challenging, but this allows you to type everything out, and then start to split it up into blocks where the data is more aligned or grouped together.
This was one of our most requested features. We debated the design for a while before deciding on the current behavior.
You can drag to add and remove rows freely, unless there is data in that row or column. In that case, you can still make the grid smaller but the rows do not get deleted. Check out the demo below
Rows now automatically get added when typing into the last row of a grid
Other fixes and improvements
Every column can retain number formats, filled colors, and font colors. You can also add borders to the left and right of the column.
Other fixes and improvements
We've re-launched Subset with a brand new calc-engine and realtime multiplayer!
You can now share Subsets with anyone simply by sending them a public link.
Let us know what you think!