Lets build a vehicle "model" in Excel!



  • http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/vsa/fastsim.html(7.0MiB)

    At least they tested it for Excel 2007 and 2010?



  • Department of energy...

    I'm sure there were meetings about the tool for months.... And in the end they picked the lowest common denominator, by the lowest common denominator



  • I'd guess it was what some engineer was using, and they decided to just pretty it up for external use.



  • @that really other guy said:

    And in the end they picked the lowest common denominator, by the lowest common denominator

    Too bad they couldn't have used that paragon of software excellence, OpenOffice.



  • What would you have preferred?

    Honestly, I think Excel is a fine tool for this.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    What would you have preferred?

    Honestly, I think Excel is a fine tool for this.

    Either Matlab or C#. There's a whole bunch of VBA in the workbook. Once you start thinking the best solution is VBA, you need to take the time to consider if Excel is really the right option*
    Most of the Industry standard stuff (Advisor, PSAT, etc) are Matlab libraries.
    Also, I have to give them props for building unit tests in VBA for this thing.

    *That's not to say Excel won't be the right option in some cases, I just don't believe it is here.


  • Matlab is a lot less common and more expensive than Excel, so I'd say that's out. C# might be an issue, but then it can only run on Windows and perhaps (but probably not) Mono. Unless they made it a web app, in which case you're creating all other kinds of problems. And I do agree that an Excel sheet that is 80% VBA is probably not something suited for Excel, but I haven't viewed the sheet, so I didn't know if that was the case or not.

    Honestly, I'd say something like Adobe Air would be the best choice for this, as sad as that is. Or something like RealBasic, you'd have to host multiple downloads but it would work on every platform at least and would be easy-to-develop.

    ... this is one of those areas where it really becomes obvious how much IT sucks ass.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Matlab is a lot less common and more expensive than Excel, so I'd say that's out. C# might be an issue, but then it can only run on Windows and perhaps (but probably not) Mono. Unless they made it a web app, in which case you're creating all other kinds of problems. And I do agree that an Excel sheet that is 80% VBA is probably not something suited for Excel, but I haven't viewed the sheet, so I didn't know if that was the case or not.

    Honestly, I'd say something like Adobe Air would be the best choice for this, as sad as that is. Or something like RealBasic, you'd have to host multiple downloads but it would work on every platform at least and would be easy-to-develop.

    ... this is one of those areas where it really becomes obvious how much IT sucks ass.

    In theory, you can build executables that can be deployed without Matlab since it's Java (mathworks sells an add on to do this), so you wouldn't necessarily need a Matlab license if they did it right.
    I still think C# would have been the best solution though.
    I don't know Adobe Air so I can't comment one way or another on it.
    My quick skim of the workbook made me feel as though the VBA that's taking up the most disk space is related to the "tutorial" they provide. I think the working parts are probably reasonable in size given that it's a macro-enabled workbook.


  • @rad131304 said:

    In theory, you can build executables that can be deployed without Matlab since it's Java (mathworks sells an add on to do this), so you wouldn't necessarily need a Matlab license if they did it right.

    But then you'd have to install Java on your computer: lose-lose.

    @rad131304 said:

    I still think C# would have been the best solution though.

    Yeah, who gives a shit about Linux nerds?



  • @blakeyrat said:

    ... this is one of those areas where it really becomes obvious how much IT sucks ass.

    Did you even see the thread where we determined the fastest way to find if a number is a power of two in Java?



  • @rad131304 said:

    In theory, you can build executables that can be deployed without Matlab since it's Java (mathworks sells an add on to do this), so you wouldn't necessarily need a Matlab license if they did it right.

    Great so now you require Java. It's a 150 MB download (in addition to the 7 for the tool), and they get a computer virus the next day through one of Oracle's numerous Java exploits. YOU HAVE GREATLY IMPROVED THIS PRODUCT!

    Adobe Air's runtime is only 14 MB, which is better if not perfect. But then you can't use native controls.

    RealBasic (or I guess they're calling it RealStudio now) does the .net thing where it only compiles the bits of the runtime it actually needs to run the app, so your app comes out quite a bit smaller. And it can use native controls, mostly. But now you need to host a separate download for every platform. And it costs a few hundred bucks for the developer, but fortunately nothing for the consumer.

    I used to know a lot about Filemaker, and it might be a good choice here as well, but all my Filemaker knowledge is like 5 years out-of-date, so I wouldn't want to venture an opinion.

    So I'd still say RealStudio is the best choice for something like this. But honestly? Excel isn't that bad a choice at all. Even with the VBA stuff.

    The Real WTF is that the guy who developed this probably didn't even bother to search for a better solution before starting on Excel.



  • What's wrong with knocking a model together in Excel? It's very convenient for that purpose. You may not even need to use VBA for that.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    The Real WTF is that the guy who developed this probably didn't even bother to search for a better solution before starting on Excel.

    I would even disagree with this. I still think it started off with some guy doing a few calculations for his own purposes, which eventually grew into this giant spreadsheet, to which they decided to add some UI stuff so they could release it to the public.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @rad131304 said:
    In theory, you can build executables that can be deployed without Matlab since it's Java (mathworks sells an add on to do this), so you wouldn't necessarily need a Matlab license if they did it right.

    Great so now you require Java. It's a 150 MB download (in addition to the 7 for the tool), and they get a computer virus the next day through one of Oracle's numerous Java exploits. YOU HAVE GREATLY IMPROVED THIS PRODUCT!


    I think that Java is just as prevalent as office, so I discount the download problem. Security is another issue entirely but I don't know if Office is more or less secure (as it probably depends on your definition of secure). Another strike against Matlab is that, AFAIK, if you want to use it on Mac/PC/Linux, you'd have to compile it in each of those environments which basically negates any positives Java brought to the table.
    @blakeyrat said:

    Adobe Air's runtime is only a few MB, which is better if not perfect. But then you can't use native controls.

    RealBasic (or I guess they're calling it RealStudio now) does the .net thing where it only compiles the bits of the runtime it actually needs to run the app, so your app comes out quite a bit smaller. And it can use native controls, mostly. But now you need to host a separate download for every platform. And it costs a few hundred bucks for the developer, but fortunately nothing for the consumer.

    I used to know a lot about Filemaker, and it might be a good choice here as well, but all my Filemaker knowledge is like 5 years out-of-date, so I wouldn't want to venture an opinion.

    So I'd still say RealStudio is the best choice for something like this. But honestly? Excel isn't that bad a choice at all. Even with the VBA stuff.

    Agree to disagree. Having been forced to to a lot of complicated stuff in Excel, I can tell you that it's often a pretty bad choice for things people use it for. @blakeyrat said:

    The Real WTF is that the guy who developed this probably didn't even bother to search for a better solution before starting on Excel.

    Agreed.


  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @rad131304 said:
    In theory, you can build executables that can be deployed without Matlab since it's Java (mathworks sells an add on to do this), so you wouldn't necessarily need a Matlab license if they did it right.

    But then you'd have to install Java on your computer: lose-lose.

    @rad131304 said:

    I still think C# would have been the best solution though.

    Yeah, who gives a shit about Linux nerds?

    Because the macro-enabled excel spreadsheet would have totally worked for you 1337 h@x0rz! At least with C# you could try and target Mono compatability.



  • @boomzilla said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    The Real WTF is that the guy who developed this probably didn't even bother to search for a better solution before starting on Excel.

    I would even disagree with this. I still think it started off with some guy doing a few calculations for his own purposes, which eventually grew into this giant spreadsheet, to which they decided to add some UI stuff so they could release it to the public.

    I disagree with both of you. Seeing as this is from the Federal government, I can only assume it started out as a plan to construct an airport in Bumfuck, Kansas named after a currently-serving Senator. By the time it had made it out of committee, 3,000 pages of amendments had been tacked on, mostly dealing with "fixes" to health care and miscellaneous corn subsidies. On the floor of the Senate, the Democrats argued that the airport/health clusterfuck/ConAgra payoff was necessary for the future of our country and brought out orphans with leukemia to strengthen that point. The Republicans retorted that spending $1 trillion on an airport in Kansas makes about as much sense as, well, spending $1 trillion on an airport in Kansas.

    Instead they offered a proposal called the "Free Freedom Act For Strengthening the United States' Freedom" which was the same exact bill but with a modest price tag of $999 billion. The left screamed "Orphan killers!" The right screamed "Those orphans probably got leukemia by having premarital sex!" A confused, elderly Republican Senator wondered aloud why Negroes no longer tip their hats when you pass them on the sidewalk nor will they dance an enchanting jig for a nickel. Flabbergasted, members of both parties award him a "Lifetime Service Award" for his 97 years in the Senate; photos are taken and Dom Perignon is served.

    Eventually the bill passes with a price tag of $999.9 billion. Both parties claim victory. The EPA immediately files a lawsuit demanding an environmental impact study because the Kansas airport is going to be built in a corn field, corn now being a Federally-protected endangered species after a generous donation to Senators of both parties from ConAgra. Worried that they will have to give the taxpayers back their $999.8 billion (after deducting Dom Perignon-related expenses), the money is reallocated into something else the EPA has been suing over: electric cars. $7 million is spent finding a suitable contractor to build the $20 thousand modeling software. The contractor's painful rickets from a corn-only diet have left him with no money to purchase tools, so he uses the only software available on his computer: Excel.



  • @rad131304 said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    @rad131304 said:
    In theory, you can build executables that can be deployed without Matlab since it's Java (mathworks sells an add on to do this), so you wouldn't necessarily need a Matlab license if they did it right.

    But then you'd have to install Java on your computer: lose-lose.

    @rad131304 said:

    I still think C# would have been the best solution though.

    Yeah, who gives a shit about Linux nerds?

    Because the macro-enabled excel spreadsheet would have totally worked for you 1337 h@x0rz! At least with C# you could try and target Mono compatability.

    I was being serious. I don't think it's reasonable to target Linux users.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I don't think it's reasonable to target Linux users.

    Why not? They look the same throught a scope.
    @morbiuswilters said:
    I disagree with both of you. Seeing as this is from the Federal government, I can only assume it started out as a plan to construct an airport in Bumfuck, Kansas named after a currently-serving Senator. By the time it had made it out of committee, 3,000 pages of amendments had been tacked on, mostly dealing with "fixes" to health care and miscellaneous corn subsidies. On the floor of the Senate, the Democrats argued that the airport/health clusterfuck/ConAgra payoff was necessary for the future of our country and brought out orphans with leukemia to strengthen that point. The Republicans retorted that spending $1 trillion on an airport in Kansas makes about as much sense as, well, spending $1 trillion on an airport in Kansas.

    Instead they offered a proposal called the "Free Freedom Act For Strengthening the United States' Freedom" which was the same exact bill but with a modest price tag of $999 billion. The left screamed "Orphan killers!" The right screamed "Those orphans probably got leukemia by having premarital sex!" A confused, elderly Republican Senator wondered aloud why Negroes no longer tip their hats when you pass them on the sidewalk nor will they dance an enchanting jig for a nickel. Flabbergasted, members of both parties award him a "Lifetime Service Award" for his 97 years in the Senate; photos are taken and Dom Perignon is served.

    Eventually the bill passes with a price tag of $999.9 billion. Both parties claim victory. The EPA immediately files a lawsuit demanding an environmental impact study because the Kansas airport is going to be built in a corn field, corn now being a Federally-protected endangered species after a generous donation to Senators of both parties from ConAgra. Worried that they will have to give the taxpayers back their $999.8 billion (after deducting Dom Perignon-related expenses), the money is reallocated into something else the EPA has been suing over: electric cars. $7 million is spent finding a suitable contractor to build the $20 thousand modeling software. The contractor's painful rickets from a corn-only diet have left him with no money to purchase tools, so he uses the only software available on his computer: Excel.


    You left out the animal sacrifices



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @boomzilla said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    The Real WTF is that the guy who developed this probably didn't even bother to search for a better solution before starting on Excel.
    I would even disagree with this. I still think it started off with some guy doing a few calculations for his own purposes, which eventually grew into this giant spreadsheet, to which they decided to add some UI stuff so they could release it to the public.
    I disagree with both of you. Seeing as this is from the Federal government, I can only assume it started out as a plan to construct an airport in Bumfuck, Kansas named after a currently-serving Senator. By the time it had made it out of committee, 3,000 pages of amendments had been tacked on, mostly dealing with "fixes" to health care and miscellaneous corn subsidies. On the floor of the Senate, the Democrats argued that the airport/health clusterfuck/ConAgra payoff was necessary for the future of our country and brought out orphans with leukemia to strengthen that point. The Republicans retorted that spending $1 trillion on an airport in Kansas makes about as much sense as, well, spending $1 trillion on an airport in Kansas.

    Instead they offered a proposal called the "Free Freedom Act For Strengthening the United States' Freedom" which was the same exact bill but with a modest price tag of $999 billion. The left screamed "Orphan killers!" The right screamed "Those orphans probably got leukemia by having premarital sex!" A confused, elderly Republican Senator wondered aloud why Negroes no longer tip their hats when you pass them on the sidewalk nor will they dance an enchanting jig for a nickel. Flabbergasted, members of both parties award him a "Lifetime Service Award" for his 97 years in the Senate; photos are taken and Dom Perignon is served.

    Eventually the bill passes with a price tag of $999.9 billion. Both parties claim victory. The EPA immediately files a lawsuit demanding an environmental impact study because the Kansas airport is going to be built in a corn field, corn now being a Federally-protected endangered species after a generous donation to Senators of both parties from ConAgra. Worried that they will have to give the taxpayers back their $999.8 billion (after deducting Dom Perignon-related expenses), the money is reallocated into something else the EPA has been suing over: electric cars. $7 million is spent finding a suitable contractor to build the $20 thousand modeling software. The contractor's painful rickets from a corn-only diet have left him with no money to purchase tools, so he uses the only software available on his computer: Excel.
    I cannot express how much I love your post.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    corn now being a Federally-protected endangered species.

    @morbiuswilters said:

    The contractor's painful rickets from a corn-only diet

    If corn were an endangered species, then the Sierra Club would have taken down Big Corn, and the contractor would not have been able to afford black-market corn and would have instead eaten baby seal.



  • @CarnivorousHippie said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    corn now being a Federally-protected endangered species.

    @morbiuswilters said:

    The contractor's painful rickets from a corn-only diet

    If corn were an endangered species, then the Sierra Club would have taken down Big Corn, and the contractor would not have been able to afford black-market corn and would have instead eaten baby seal.

    Surely the Feds would never be so foolish as to simultaneously do two contradictory things. See, if corn is an endangered species, then it becomes illegal to possess your own corn to grow while at the same time it makes it necessary for the Federal government to further subsidize corn production to make sure it doesn't go extinct. However, corn also must be protected from overpopulation, meaning the herd is aggressively culled and the excess sold at (rock-bottom, Federally-guaranteed) rates. Corn can't be used to feed livestock (because it's protected) so meat prices soar. Prices of other crops soar, too, as they are required by law to be harvested and transported by machinery fueled with expensive, inefficient ethanol. Soon all you can afford to eat is corn and you spend a week's salary to buy a single orange in the hopes of barely staving off scurvy for another month.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Instead they offered a proposal called the "Free Freedom Act For Strengthening the United States' Freedom" which was the same exact bill but with a modest price tag of $999 billion.
     

    Gawd, you made me laugh. I think this came from a very, very, very deeply held loathing.

    BTW, I sort of agree: Excel isn't the worst tool for this job. Building some godawful GUI in C# or Java is probably worse. It might have been a bit cheaper, but then it would probably cost at least $5M to build the module that saves the model's output in a format no other tool can understand, and then $5M more to build a filter to import it into Excel anyway.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @that really other guy said:
    And in the end they picked the lowest common denominator, by the lowest common denominator

    Too bad they couldn't have used that paragon of software excellence, OpenOffice.

    If they make it without macros, OpenOffice should be able to open Microsoft Excel files.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I disagree with both of you. Seeing as this is from the Federal government, I can only assume it started out as a plan to construct an airport in Bumfuck, Kansas named after a currently-serving Senator. By the time it had made it out of committee, 3,000 pages of amendments had been tacked on, mostly dealing with "fixes" to health care and miscellaneous corn subsidies. On the floor of the Senate, the Democrats argued that the airport/health clusterfuck/ConAgra payoff was necessary for the future of our country and brought out orphans with leukemia to strengthen that point. The Republicans retorted that spending $1 trillion on an airport in Kansas makes about as much sense as, well, spending $1 trillion on an airport in Kansas.

    Instead they offered a proposal called the "Free Freedom Act For Strengthening the United States' Freedom" which was the same exact bill but with a modest price tag of $999 billion. The left screamed "Orphan killers!" The right screamed "Those orphans probably got leukemia by having premarital sex!" A confused, elderly Republican Senator wondered aloud why Negroes no longer tip their hats when you pass them on the sidewalk nor will they dance an enchanting jig for a nickel. Flabbergasted, members of both parties award him a "Lifetime Service Award" for his 97 years in the Senate; photos are taken and Dom Perignon is served.

    Eventually the bill passes with a price tag of $999.9 billion. Both parties claim victory. The EPA immediately files a lawsuit demanding an environmental impact study because the Kansas airport is going to be built in a corn field, corn now being a Federally-protected endangered species after a generous donation to Senators of both parties from ConAgra. Worried that they will have to give the taxpayers back their $999.8 billion (after deducting Dom Perignon-related expenses), the money is reallocated into something else the EPA has been suing over: electric cars. $7 million is spent finding a suitable contractor to build the $20 thousand modeling software. The contractor's painful rickets from a corn-only diet have left him with no money to purchase tools, so he uses the only software available on his computer: Excel.

    In Europe, these things happen completely differently. It would indeed have started off as a requirement for a tool that measures fuel-efficiency, so that it can become an EU guideline to be implemented by all EU member states. Individual states may, and will, add their own amendments to this guideline, which generally pisses off the population but which is blamed on Brussels.

    Lobbyists analyse the proposal, decide whether it's in the interest of the automotive industry (which it usually isn't), and start inviting major and minor key players for 'business lunches'. The Brussels restaurant business is doing a roaring trade.

    Great Britain states its opposition to the proposal, because it's not in the British interest, nor will it create British jobs, and British people (especially those in Wales) are used to pollution anyway, so it would be unfair to have Brussels-imposed clean air. If the British wanted clean air, the Queen would have moved to a country with cleaner air, like Mexico. The British sentiments are ignored, but it allows Rupert Murdoch's newspapers to print some more indignant headlines about Brussels' arrogance, just below the article about the shopping trip that the football wags went on in Poland, whilst their husbands visited some concentration camp or other.

    The Germans see this as an opportunity to manufacture all the fuel-efficient components you could ever dream off, and support the proposal. France initially supports the proposal, but backs down after mass rallies and strikes. The Italians have an interim government, after the previous one collapsed at 11:17 that morning, and everybody is having a latte whilst being on strike anyway. The Greeks riot in the streets and set fire to several banks.

    The Irish hold a referendum where five people bother to show up, and the proposal carries with a convincing 60% majority, because otherwise the funds from Brussels will rapidly dry up. The Portugese are in favour for the same reason, and nobody can afford a car anyway, so it's a moot point for them. The Spanish are in favour too, because they know they will need the funds next month, and because they're all unemployed they don't need even cars, whether fuel-efficient or not.

     The Middle and Eastern European states are generally in favour, because it's one chance they have to clean up their air a bit, and not have 10% of the population die every year of accute lead poisoning. Nobody cares about what the Mediterranean island states think, mostly because they're unaware that these are EU-members, too.

    Evventually, after 10 years, a much-watered down version of the original proposal passes through the European parliament, where actually three MEPs showed up for the plenary session (because they would otherwise lose their rather generous stipend), and is implemented by all states, except the British who got an opt-out. The Danish got an opt-out, too, but they didn't make such a song and dance about it.

    An open tender is issued for a European company to come up with the tool, which concludes after two years. One provision is that it cannot be made with Excel, because Microsoft have abused their monopoly in the past, and been fined heavily for it. Microsoft sue the European Commission at the European Court, arguing that the EC is breaching its own rules on competition. Sentence is passed another five years down the line, and Microsoft is fined another €1bn for good measure.

    The work is immediately offshored to India, where they write using a pirated version of Excel. It takes them another two years to figure out how to save it in OpenOffice format, and another two years for the EU officials to figure out they need the Excel version anyway, because nobody actually uses OpenOffice.

    By the time the measure is fully implemented, fossil fuels have run out.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Honestly, I think Excel is a fine tool for this.

    ...from the guy who thinks that Excel is also the right tool for managing global IP allocation...



  • @PJH said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Honestly, I think Excel is a fine tool for this.

    ...from the guy who thinks that Excel is also the right tool for managing global IP allocation...

    Another in the long-running genre of "make up some WTF shit and claim Blakeyrat said it!"



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I disagree with both of you
     

    <3



  • @Severity One said:

    In Europe, these things happen completely differently.
     

    Surprisingly accurate!





  • @grey said:

    This website (<font color="#88aa88"></font><font color="#88aa88">http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/vsa/fastsim.html</font>) is buried. What led you to it?

    Google has a neat feature that lets you find links to a particular URL.



  • @grey said:

    This website (<font color="#88aa88"></font><font color="#88aa88">http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/vsa/fastsim.html</font>) is buried. What led you to it?

    Some of my work is related to powertrain modeling. A colleague sent it to some of my working group.


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