Import and Export

An opinion based on decades of dealing with programs and users (please forgive the virtual yelling):

It’s your data.  Your should be able to extract it into a spreadsheet at any time.

Too often, purveyors of software make you a prisoner of their environment, because your data is locked inside their database.  As a trivial example, I’ve seen this in a lot of to-do apps.   You might have a hundred items in there, and you may wish to extract them for offline analysis.  “No,” say many vendors.

Which brings me to a second point.  Extracting data isn’t just for the sake of portability.  Rather, not only Excel, but also Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and even Google Sheets have powerful abilities to sort, sum, pivot, and graph your data, lending itself to further analysis.  Modern spreadsheet tools border on the abilities of business intelligence.  Unless your software vendor has rich, powerful analytic tools within their offering, you cannot harvest the full value of your data while it’s locked inside a system.

So, when you’re evaluating software, whether for your smart phone, personal desktop use, your temple or synagogue, or your workplace (assuming it’s not the temple itself), do yourself a favor and stay mindful of the system’s openness–its ability to import and export, and to talk to other systems.