Announcing ClearFactr's Cell Relationships Navigator

By Dean Zarras

Ever wish you could just have a spreadsheet walk you though exactly where a cell’s value came from, or where it leads to? Now you can.

ClearFactr’s new Cell Relationships Navigator allows you to start at any cell in the plan and then traverse backwards or forwards, either to one of the cell’s parents, or to one of the cell’s children. Your new selection becomes the starting point and from there, the process can be repeated until you hit a “root cell” (no parents) or a “terminal cell” (no children). And it will walk you across tabs so you can see the full lineage of a cell, even if all of the connected cells are not on the currently visible tab.

The Navigator will also automatically discover the starting and ending points of the model (those “root” and “terminal” cells) and put those cells into two special lists that you can use for starting your exploration.

Lastly, as you move around the plan, it will maintain a history so you can use Back and Forward buttons, exactly as you would in a web browser.

Let’s walk through a quick example to see. Recall that ClearFactr already has special highlighting buttons that show you:

nullRoot Cells: Cells that have no computational parents, but do have computational children
nullFormula Cells: Cells whose values are derived from other cells
nullTerminal Cells: Cells that are Formulaic, but don’t drive other cells.
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For any selected cell, you can also highlight the parent and child cells, up to six dimensions. Here we see the three parents of the current cell in purple, and its three children in red.

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The Navigator combines both concepts and then allows you to traverse the cell connections in either direction with a mouse click.

From that previously selected cell, we launch the Navigator, in this case from the context menu found with the right-click:

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Here's the initial view of the Navigator:

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Notice the plan's "current cell" becomes the cell in the middle of the Navigator, highlighted in yellow. Its three parents are shown above, and its three children are shown below. In the left-most column, we see that the parents have been coded as Root Cells, by the blue dots. The children are Formulaic, because their value is controlled by the current cell; they have green dots in this case, and we see they’re not Terminal. Otherwise, they’d have a red dot. This means they each control at least one other cell.

And in fact, we can keep clicking on one of the children until we find that the parents are Formulaic, the current cell is a Terminal (notice the red dot) and there are no additional children:

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Notice above that there are two comments shown in the comments section on the right. Indicators of comments are in the right-most column of the navigator tables. By default, you'll see all of the comments associated with any of the cells shown in the navigator so they can help you follow the thought trail of the relationships. But if you click the "Current cell only" checkbox, then you'll see only the comments associated with the Current Cell, like this:

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To add a new comment, just type it in the box at the top and click the Add Comment button.

All of this is actually way easier to just do than to read about. Give it a try — there’s nothing else like it! And as always, please let us know what you think.

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