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Mesa 3

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P & L Software's Mesa 3, a full-blown spreadsheet program written in Cocoa, lets you build a budget document, map out complex statistical data, and produce presentation-quality reports. But how does Mesa measure up to Microsoft Excel when it comes to slicing and dicing your numeric data? Not very well, unfortunately.

Mesa is packed with outstanding timesaving tools, including several that outshine Excel's. The Formula Inheritance feature lets you copy formulas from cell to cell, maintaining a link between the original formula and all the copies. If you make a change to the original formula, all the referenced cells update automatically, making it easier to execute global changes to calculations throughout your document. And Report Builder lets you create customized layouts for printed reports using a WYSIWYG view.

But Mesa's advanced features cannot make up for its deficiencies. There is no zoom tool, charting options are limited (you can't make pie charts, for example), and contextual pop-up menus are rare. And Mesa is often less intuitive than Excel.

Macworld's Buying Advice

Mesa is a powerful spreadsheet program, and it runs natively in OS X, but the holes in its feature set and lack of polish make it pale in comparison to Excel.

Cell Control: You can format Mesa spreadsheets using the Cell Format Inspector.
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