New user recruitment

I keep Julia on the Taskbar and use Julia as my everyday calculator. This gave me a thought. Why not promote Julia as a high-power calculation or Excel substitute? This would be a great way to introduce many more uses to Julia. Once you get users thinking in Julia, they will naturally evolve in using the more sophisticate features. All it should take is several videos showing how Julia can be used in everyday tasks (a Julia cookbook?). Seems like a natural to me if you don’t mind going a little low brow.

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As a calculator, it is pretty much equivalent to R, Python, or any language that supports basic arithmetic.

Going beyond that requires a bit of investment. Which I think is worth it in exchange for its power, but encountering these features accidentally, without some preparation, may just be a setup for frustration.

I am not comfortable with “recruiting” new users this way. I prefer a more explicit management of expectations: making it clear that Julia is a modern language that allows the user to write very fast programs, but requires a bit of learning. It has an expanding ecosystem of libraries, but many of these are work in progress. It has a great community, but users are expected to put some effort into questions.


Why not promote Julia as
“a high-power calculation” - for Julia is too bulky for every day’s routine works…
" Excel substitute" - the Excel first of all is a spreadsheet for noobies, Julia is not…
alltogether - Julia is not optimal for beforementioned tasks or lack some of comfort or functionality.

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Excel is neither easy to replace nor “for noobies”:

Powerusers are very much able to do things with it that I (and I’m sure many others) would call witchcraft. Trying to cram Julia in all those use cases seems to me like using the wrong tool for the job, even though there certainly is some overlap.


1 my god, there are many levels of mastery Excel…
2 Julia has NO spreadsheet functionality… and i doubt that it is needed any

I think that Julia has some advantages over Python, at least (I’m not familiar with R), in terms of syntax. Basic numerics and array handling is far simpler and more natural.

Julia does not have spreadsheet functionality, but I have seen many cases of people (painfully) using Excel for classic Julia/Matlab/Python/R tasks(!)

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yes, but that theme is from another opera… not from the “Excel substitute” anyway.

Certainly, but eg array handling is stretching the usually understood concept of a calculator. For simple stuff (that covers 90% of what the typical Excel user would use), all modern languages are pretty much equivalent. For the remaining 10%, one would have to be using Statistics :wink:

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Not a plug-and-play substitute, but sometimes it’s reasonable to say “You really shouldn’t use Excel for that.”

I’d say it’s not a different opera, it’s from the act where everyone dies while screaming pitifully.


hhmm maybe more promising will be reflections about good import\export into Excel package or to say about Julia usage as background engine with some opened spreadsheet api (like google tables)…

of course I just implied that original topic was “about something else” :smile:

Having a table editor with basic functionalities would be great.

There’s some experimental work on Juno on that front I think. Though it might just be display stuff and not actually editing - not sure.

There’s also

For viewing tables


If you want something that’s more like a spreadsheet in the terminal, there is sc

Maybe somebody could interface it with Julia

My primary point is to find ways and encourage the use of Julia in everyday calculation tasks so one would get more practice in thinking in Julia terms and not necessarily as a direct substitute for Excel. I would guess the more one uses Julia the more proficient one will become.

I don’t see it as a replacement for Excel, but as a calculator I think Julia is great and don’t see why it couldn’t be promoted that way. The command history and variable assignment for example are great features which I don’t think are too difficult to grasp (compare with the “memory” feature of a calculator).

I think Google’s calculator (in the search box) is hard to beat though when it comes to convenience and user friendliness, especially if you also want to do unit conversion or base conversion.

It has much slower startup than a typical calculator (which can be <0.1s on a modern system), also installing Julia just to get a calculator is probably overkill.

Which is fine, it was not meant to be a calculator, but a very advanced programming language. The fact that one can use most modern interactive languages as “calculators” does not mean that they are the best tool for the job (unless, of course, one already uses them for something else, probably programming, then availability & familiarity are dominant aspects).

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