Spreadsheet Mapping Tools: the Next Big Thing?

So, let’s say you need a map. And let’s say you don’t know much about this whole GIS thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just take your spreadsheet of addresses or lat/long points and make a map, just like you would make a chart or graph? Well, the folks at ESRI, MAPCITE, and the LibreOffice Community all thought so, and have developed spreadsheet extensions to help you do just that. This has huge potential for spatially empowering the spreadsheet-enabled public, as well as reserving valuable GIS analyst time for more complex projects.

The future?
Complete dramatization.

These extensions have a huge range in terms of number of capabilities and end-user cost (free to as much as you care to pay).  Over the next few weeks, my mission is to compare these mapping extensions and see how they stack up.  Which one is the “best”?  What do you get for your money?  Just how good of a map can you make with a spreadsheet, anyway?  I’ll be exploring these questions, one extension at a time, and summarizing the results in a final post at the end.  Stay tuned for review #1: MAPCITE’s Excel®™ Add-In.