Easier Dates

Dates are often fundamental to financial models, so we try to make it easy for you to work with them. In fact, we're sometimes surprised by how difficult it is to do simple things in other modeling packages. For example, if you wanted to know what the date will be 60 days after 12-13-2013 and you were using a traditional spreadsheet package, how would you do it? I would probably either enter 12-13-2013 into one cell (e.g., A1) and then enter the formula =A1+60 into another cell. Or, I would enter it into one cell as =DATE(2013,12,13)+60. But why is it entering it into one cell so clumsy? You don't, for example, have to type =NUMBER(10)+NUMBER(5) to add two numbers together, right? Well, the obvious reason is that because if you simply typed =12-31-2010, then the spreadsheet wouldn't know whether you wanted the date December 31, 2010 or if you wanted to subtract 2010 from 31 from 12. So in order to compensate for this nuance, you are required to enter a date as a formula like =DATE(2010,12,31).

Well, in the Grid Mule we take a different approach and try to make it even easier - we allow you to type =@12-31-2010 instead (i.e., prepend the date with an @ ... you might like to think about it like "at 12-31-2010" we want to do something). It's not a huge savings in terms of the number characters typed (you save 5 characters in the single cell version), but:

  1. It has a compounding effect (e.g., if you want to subtract two dates you can use =@12-31-2010 - @9-13-2010 vs =DATE(2010,12,31) - DATE(2010,9,13)).
  2. I think the intent is easier to distinguish (i.e., rather than trying to parse what is meant by =DATE(2010,12,10) you are greeted with a more familier representation of a date, only slightly hampered by the additional syntax of the @ symbol).
  3. You can type the date however you prefer (e.g., =@12-31-10, =@2010-12-10, =@12/10/2010 are all recognized and parsed as the same date).

We also try to provide you with date functions that are useful for financial modeling right out of the box. For example, try typing =date.month_end(@12-3-2010) (which is equivalent to =date.month_end(@12-3-2010, 0)) or =date.quarter(@4-30-2011) into one of our models to see what I mean. Hopefully you agree that it's easier to use dates, but we'd still love to hear what other suggestions you have - email us at feedback@datamules.com with any suggestions.

Written by ktr in misc on Fri 16 September 2011. Tags: Dates,

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