All of these are great suggestions for power users.
What about for first-time or casual users?
What would make the formula editor easier to figure out?
What confuses you about the formula editor?
How about listing the content under the menus in some logical manner.
Alphabetical order could help newcomers find their way around or alternatively somehow grouped by function.
For me, I feel the buttons are un-intuitive.
As a beginner, you tend to push the buttons instead of typing out the formula. Say I want Mean(Col1)-Mean(Col2), I would push the buttons as I read the formula, thus: Push button mean, then Col1, then minus, then mean, and finally Col2. Since that's how it reads, one would figure that's how you would push the buttons. However, this sequence of events leads to Mean(Col1 - Mean(Col2)) not Mean(Col1)-Mean(Col2).
In order to get the desired formula, a beginner would have to: Push this sequence, Mean, Col1, select the formula and make sure everything is highlighted, Minus, Mean, Col2. That middle portion is really un-intuitive.
Perhaps add a preview tab or window where you can see the results of the formula readily. Might be nice for a new user who has to iterate a few times on a formula to get it right. This is in query builder and it is awesome to have sometimes!! Graph builder gives immediate feedback also making it easy to iterate quickly on a graph construction. Formula builder is a little more clunky to me - hit apply look at table click back over to formula editor etc.
Clicking on boxes was goofy to me in my first experiences. It was easy to click too many times and get the formula text. If I was spastic sometimes i would do something to the text accidentally. Honestly it still is a little frustrating sometimes.
I really like being able to see the formula. Generally this is really cool. If there is a way to clean up how the formula are displayed that would be awesome. Auto sizing is good and bad. The good for me is that it keeps things compact and I have the option to make things bigger. New users may not readily see this the same way.
I too like the excel comments as most new users I work with have a lot of experience in excel. I would add that making it more intuitive than excel would be a great mark to hit. Excel isn't exactly intuitive but people are used to it. I would love it if an excel user saw this and thought wow I doubt I will be using excel much anymore
I agree with msharp. I and many other folks I know who first attempt a formula in SAS JMP think in terms of the sequence left to right. Also, the more "Excel" like the easier the translation and ramp up on the learning curve.
Reading the other comments, you have some great ideas for enhancements.
Good luck on the next gen.
Overall, the Formula Editor is pretty good the way it is. But there are a few issues that would be nice to fix:
About possible additions:
Was recently teaching someone who is colorblind how to use the formula editor. He couldn't see the red box (looked gray to him). I can't imagine trying to use this tool w/o knowing where you are editing. Add platform option to change the editing box thickness/color/flashing would be very helpful.
Provide the ability to copy the formulas in columns with the formulas incrementing the references as will happen with Excel without absolute addresses. For that matter, include the ability to have absolute column addresses.
For new users it would be helpful to have a dedicated formulas tutorial under the help menu. I think understanding the link between setting up columns and the profiler would be really great as an beginner/intermediate exercise. You can get so much more out of the formula with profilers.
I would like an undo button as I would use it often. I know I can go to Edit>undo or use cntrl-z however, I would like an undo on the formula editor window.