3 things you don't understand about spreadsheets


#1

Really awesome 3-part series about spreadsheets written from the programmer’s perspective :raised_hands:. After reading these articles it’s clear why many companies are building a more flexible solution than Excel. TLDR:

  1. Spreadsheets are programs

  2. Spreadsheets made the PC market

  3. Spreadsheets run the world

The author summarizes the challenges with supplanting Excel:

They are largely a single-user, desktop tools and not “native” citizens of the web. Online spreadsheets are still fairly basic compared to Microsoft Excel’s power running on a local machine, but what is worse: With the exception of (some) collaboration features, they are largely a transfer of the desktop-client metaphor to a client running in the browser with little notice of the things that are truly different when you’re running “in the cloud”.

The author also mentions RescueTime (which I wrote about here) and states 25% of computer users use Excel on a daily basis!


#2

In the first article the author talks about functional and reactive programming and refers to Bret Victor’s talk about “Inventing on Principle.” WHO IS THIS MAGICIAN??? His talk is absolutely mind-blowing :thinking::

This sent me down the rabbit hole of discovering Bret Victor’s projects, and I came across this gem which discusses strategies for new users to understand programming. I see some parallels between Victor’s ideas and Coda’s formula language. Victor makes a side not about spreadsheets in the “See the State” section:

One of the all-time most popular programming models is the spreadsheet. A spreadsheet is the dual of a conventional programming language – a language shows all the code, but hides the data. A spreadsheet shows all the data, but hides the code. Some people believe that spreadsheets are popular because of their two-dimensional grid, but that’s a minor factor. Spreadsheets rule because they show the data.