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Lotus Improv was a multidimensional spreadsheet developed by Lotus, Inc. for the NeXTSTEP operating system, and then later ported to Windows 3.x.

Unique features included a separation between formulas, labels and cell contents; a truly multidimensional display, where one could rearrange one's data flexibly and dynamically for various reporting purposes; equations written in plain English language; and, lastly, calculations that would affect multiple cells.

In Improv, it was perfectly valid to write an equation as : Revenue=Income-Expenses and have it calculate the entire column for revenue. One could, if needed, write calculations for specific cells - although this was done less often. If equations calculated the same cell or range of cells, one could change their order in the formula bar on the bottom - the higher numbered calculation was performed last.

All in all, the package was astounding for its time and is still fantastic today.

If one has ever used Pivot tables in Excel, in Improv, the whole spreadsheet was like that - except much, much easier to manipulate. One could directly slide tiles around, which represented various categories for one's data, thus changing the view on the fly; there was no need to go through an obscure wizard to accomplish the same task.

Today, the successor to Lotus Improv is Quantrix Modeller, a product which is massively better than Excel in every way imaginable.
I'm thoroughly confused as to why the model of spreadsheet creation in Lotus Improv didn't capture the broader market; Excel is complete and utter rubbish.
by CoilscarPoint June 30, 2011
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