You’re totally, totally right, Alan. I’m not a friend of IT fundamentalism either. Don’t see any sense in Android vs. Apple, Linux vs. Microsoft, etc., etc.
We’re all using tools to accomplish various tasks, and one should always choose the appropriate tool for the current task. That’s my conviction. Doesn’t make sense to praise the beauty and elegance of a hammer if your current task is to put a screw into something…
In the past a struggled a lot with performing tasks repeatedly with Excel, each time with somewhat different data. That’s why I started to program the XL Toolbox in the first place – out of despair… Features like “Copy chart properties”, “Move chart range”, and, of course, “Batch export” are reminiscent of that time. Since then, I have tried to apply the same approach to other areas of my work life (I’m a physician in a large hospital): Identifiy repetitive tasks & have a computer do them so that humans can focus on the stuff that only they can do and computers can’t.
When I discovered R, I was repelled at first, despite several years, if not decades of amateur or maybe by then even semi-professional (?) programming experience. However, eventually I did find out that R can do all those repetitive tasks in a much more deterministic way, and now I am glad that I took the time to learn how to use it. But in the end R is just another tool that may or may not be right for the current task at hand.
Interestingly, the BBC data folks seem to have made similar experiences, cf. the article linked above.