All posts
Published at Sun Jun 11 2023 in
Rows HQ

2023 W23 - Pivots, Hyperlinks, Github Co-Pilot

Blog: this and that 3 elements

Every week I post about one thing that happened at Rows. We're building in public!


Last week was super cool! There were 3 key things that happened:

  • Pivots. Our new Pivots were built to be well integrated into the layout of your spreadsheet, in a Notion-like composition. They are super easy setup and have clear controls.

  • HTML Hyperlinks. We launched the ability of adding a custom text (label/title) to a cell with a link. This is another of those "so simple but not really" features, and it took a while to prioritize and implement the right way.

  • Github Copilot. I was at a workshop where GitHub Copilot was being discussed. (long pause). I'm not technical enough to evaluate this new tech, but it still amazes me how unexcited engineers are in general about it. There is a dissonance between the online success stories and the everyday implementation inside companies like Rows.



Pivots are summary tables that aggregate values according to dimensions you choose. Our vision is of a spreadsheet document that tells a story, and Pivots got that treatment! they are inserted as a block in our document, in whatever page you place them at. This first version will be followed by a more complete version soon.

Blog - pivot screenshot
  • This first version will be followed by a more complete version soon.

More on Github Copilot

When I asked our team about CoPilot in our team, I was surprised to find that only 2 people use it on an ongoing basis.

I thought engineers would be more ardent supporters of a tool like this, but I guess not.

When we dug deeper about this, the answer was:

  • For Code

    • Simple solutions and code completions work best for us; In this case, Copilot saves a lot of time of searching and writing. Code isn't perfect but is a great starting point most of the times.

    • For complex functions, results are not good enough.

  • For Documentation

    • Fetches existing documentation instead of generating new docs. This is amazing.

    • The fact that it has a multi-file context (finds docs for functions in other files) is amazing too.

    • It saves a lot of time of searching, writing.

On the flip side, there was plenty that our team didn't like yet:

  1. Many suggestions look like direct github/ stackoverflow completions. This isn't that helpful when building a spreadsheet platform.

  2. Test generation also isn't good enough for our setup. Sometimes no options are given. Our team mentioned this may be a limitation of the IntelliJ plugin.

  3. Sometimes, when starting new code projects, asking ChatGPT directly gets superior answers.

It's clearly this is only the beginning, and AIs of some provider and shape will be there with us.


See you next week.