Quattro Pro Tutorial

The Notebook Concept

In this tutorial we take a look at Quattro Pro’s desktop, layout, and conventions. The goal is to simply become more familiar with Quattro Pro's concept of a spreadsheet and the general layout of its desktop.


The Quattro Pro Notebook

First off, when you start Quattro Pro and load your *.qpw file you are loading a "notebook" and not merely loading one spreadsheet. A notebook is a set of spreadsheets, and in Quattro Pro that could be as many as 18,000 spreadsheets. Employing the old analogy that spreadsheet is like a page in a ledger, a Quattro Pro notebook is analogous to a complete ledger (book). This notebook structure provides a very convenient way to work with multiple spreadsheets and in a sense extends the 2D (rows and columns) organization of the single spreadsheet to a 3D array (rows, columns, and sheets) of cells. And interestingly, while earlier in the history of spreadsheets it was possible to link spreadsheet files, Quattro Pro can now link notebook files to each other. In addition, it can link these notebooks to external applications.

Notebook Groups - Your notebooks can be linked together to create a "notebook group".  The ability to work with groups of notebooks (analogous to a set of ledgers) can be very useful when data or other objects you need are in other notebooks. It also let's you break up a large project into smaller files which in turn can be used by other notebook groups. Of course when you open a notebook group Quattro Pro will automatically open each member of the group.

Spreadsheets - Each "sheet" in the notebook is a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet is essentially an electronic version of a paper ledger sheet where data are entered in columns and tabulated, except in this case the results are automatically tabulated, and of course one can enter and work with much more than financial data. The electronic spreadsheet is organized as an array of individual cells where data and formulae can be entered. Each cell has a unique column and row address, and likewise, each spreadsheet is identified by a unique name. In addition, the cells on one sheet can access the data in any other sheet.

Cells - The cells is where the work gets done. They contain the numbers, text, and formulas and they display the results in whatever manner we choose. Each cell is individually selectable, groups of cells can be selected, and cells can be even given names. They can be moved around, copied, deleted, and more.

A Quattro Pro notebook can contain 18,000 spreadsheets and each spreadsheet can contain approximately 1,000,000 rows and 18,000 columns of cells. If each cell contained only one byte of data then a single notebook could be a large as 295 terabytes!
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The Quattro Pro Desktop

The figure below shows the whole Quattro Pro desktop. At first glance it looks complicated but if ones takes it all in in sections things get easier. For example, along the top of the desktop are the various menus and toolbars that provide quick and easy access to all of Quattro Pro’s functions and features. At the bottom of the screen are the status displays that let you know what Quattro Pro is doing (current file, recalculating) and the current edit and keyboard modes (num lock, caps lock, scroll lock, insert/overwrite). Navigation controls that help you move from sheet to sheet are also located along the bottom of the screen. The large center section contains the cells of the spreadsheet. To summarize - top=menus, bottom=status, middle=workspace.

The large grid in the center is the spreadsheet itself and each rectangle in this grid is a cell. Each cell in this grid has an address that is indicated on the bars to the left and top of this grid. The address of the selected cell, for example, is A:A1, which means sheet A, column A, row 1. The spreadsheet contains many more cells than are shown in this grid, obviously, and the scroll bars to the right and bottom aid in finding these off-screen cells.

Quattro Pro desktop
Major components of the Quattro Pro desktop.

Toolbar details
A closer look at the main menu and toolbars that are located at the top of
the desktop.

Toolbars - Toolbars provide a quick and easy way to access many of Quattro Pro's frequently used functions and features. There are many more toolbars than are shown in this figure, and some of these will appear automatically depending on what you are doing, and the others can be made visible using the View|Toolbars dialog, as shown below.

Toolbars Dialog Form
You can select or hide various toolbars using the toolbars dialog form.

Main Menu - The toolbars illustration above shows the three default toolbars at the top of the screen and the application bar at the bottom. The familiar main menu, common to most Windows programs, is the topmost toolbar. It provides access to virtually every command, function and feature of Quattro Pro.

Lotus and Excel Workspaces

If you are already familiar with Lotus 1-2-3 or Excel and prefer to use a Main Menu similar to these other programs, simply bring up the Options dialog by entering ALT-F12 and selecting one of these from the Workspace options.

Main Menu Keyboard Shortcuts

Many people use the mouse almost exclusively to access items in the main menu. Most of the time, however, we are typing data and formulas using the keyboard so it makes sense to be able to use the keyboard to access items in the main menu. Most Windows programs offer this capability through the use of the ALT key and menu shortcuts which may be CTRL key sequence or may involve the function keys. ALT+F+X (F is underlined in the menu item File and X is underlined in the submenu item Exit.) and ALT+F4 are equivalent to the menu item File|Exit and will close Quattro Pro. Learning to use these keyboard shortcuts for frequently used operations can save a lot of time and effort.

Notebook Toolbar - The notebook toolbar contains buttons for many of the major features of Quattro Pro. For example, there are buttons for such standard things as creating, opening and saving a notebook, copying and pasting cells or other objects, and inserting and deleting columns and rows. There are also buttons for creating charts, invoking the formula editor, sorting data and others. Each of these functions and features are also accessible through the main menu.

Properties Toolbar - The properties toolbar makes changing the properties of a cell or any other object quick and easy. It contains buttons to assist in changing fonts, colors, appearance and alignment of text in a cell, for example. This toolbar changes to match the type of object selected. If a graph is selected, for example, buttons and tools that let you change the graph’s properties will appear.

Input Line - The input line provides an easy way to view and edit the contents of a cell. It displays the cell’s address, allows one to insert the name of a named cell, includes buttons to aid in inserting functions and macros and an there is an edit box that displays the formula. The formula can be edited here or in the cell, and in fact, this toolbar indicates that the currently selected cell is A:R11 (sheet A, column R, row 11) and the equation in that cell is +2*@log(@PI/2).

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Hints and Suggestions

  • Save your work often. Computers are clearly more reliable these days but, things happen. Quattro Pro and many other applications offer timed backup procedures and these have saved many people’s work. Use this feature. (Type ALT+F12 and check Quattro Pro’s file options settings.) In addition, save your work often, manually. This can be as simple and quick as typing ALT+F+S (Think ALT-File-Save) or CTRL+S every so often, for instance, after completing a segment of your work.

  • Keyboard shortcuts can be very useful. It is often easier, when already typing data and formulas, to type the shortcut instead of picking up the mouse over and over again.

  • The exercise offered in this tutorial provides an introduction to the basic features of spreadsheets. The lesson, however, doesn't stop here. While the tutorials in the following chapters will guide you through techniques used in the SAMS modules there are many other interesting and useful features which you might find interesting. Strike out on your own and explore Quattro Pro yourself.
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