Microsoft has been adding some new features in Excel recently (I am using the Mac version). I am so used to working with the software that I rarely look at new feature additions, unless they are staring me in the face.

One of buttons that got my attention are Bing maps: you can now plot data on locations in a map. You enter a table with locations and a numeric value, and they get plotted in the appropriate location. The map zooms in and out. When you drag the map from Excel into PowerPoint, it becomes a static image of the last zoom level.

I think this is very useful as an analysis tool for for example a retailer who wants to visualise stock levels across its stores.

Screenshot 2017-10-19 07.31.56.png

The implementation on a Mac is still a bit crude: it would be great if you could shade entire countries based on a value, conditional formatting. (I see that the Windows version is much more advanced).

Also, the graphical appearance of a Bing map is not designed with a presentation in mind. The map has lots of unnecessary clutter, and random geographical labels are displayed depending on zoom level, pretty much like the map you are staring at when the in-flight entertainment system is switched of just before your plane lands.

Hopefully the Mac version will be upgraded to the features of the Windows version soon.


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