Short for improvisation.

Improv, as a technique found in the performing arts (theatre, music, and dance) is based on the artists' willingness to create spontaneously, to be open to the process of spontaneous creation, and the trust that one's partners in collaboration believe in the same. Improv is used as both a training approach and as a performance form.

Key differences in the technique applied to these art forms: improv music and dance may jettison all preconceived vocabularies entirely, trusting that what is created in the moment is valid. Improv theatre is a narrative art form-- whether or not language is involved, the artists are working towards creating a story. As such, improv theatre relies on an underlying structure that improv music (and here I refer to free improvisation, not the more traditional playing changes of jazz) and improv dance do not require.

Improv was also a product from Lotus Software. Steve Jobs originally hailed it as the killer app for his NeXT computer or, as it later became, his NeXTStep operating system.

Lotus Improv was a 'next-generation spreadsheet', designed to make manipulation and analysis of multi-dimensional data really easy.

And if that's what you do with spreadsheets, then Lotus Improv is definitely the product for you.

When IBM decided to port it across to the Microsoft Windows 3.0, they even had the Microsoft Excel development team qualing in their boots. So they hurriedly added a facility called pivot tables into the product in an attempt to compete. (for details, go and read the JoelOnSoftware website).

As it turned out, most people use Excel for simple sums, and sorting single flat tables of information into alphabetical or numerical order.

Lotus Improv was complete overkill for this, and was not the Excel-killer that Lotus had hoped for. Consequently, they withdrew it from sale within about 12 months of the Windows 3.0 launch.

And this is unfortunate, because it was one of the best apps ever for manipulating multi-dimensional data - never bettered, often mourned.

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