Software Investigate

Software Engineering for Spreadsheets

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Executive Summary

Spreadsheets are widely used end-user programming tools. Since many critical decisions are made based on values computed by spreadsheets, the correctness of spreadsheets is crucial. The application of tried and tested software engineering principles to spreadsheets seems to promise help with the construction and maintenance of dependable spreadsheets. However, can people really make this practical for end users? In this paper authors demonstrate with two examples, type checking and debugging, that authors can exploit the idiosyncratic structure of spreadsheets to successfully translate these concepts to an end-user programming domain. Authors argue that the simplified computational model and the rich context information provided by the spatial embedding of formulas allow, in particular, the simplification of these concepts, which ultimately leads to effective tools for end users.

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