AN OBJECT-ORIENTED SPREADSHEET FRONT-END
Making spreadsheets safer
Why spreadsheets are dangerous
People make errors because:
It is easy to make positioning errors when moving to spreadsheet cells.
Alphanumeric cell names are not easy to remember. Named variables, like in programming languages, would be better.
Spreadsheets do not check for cells that are used but never set, or set but never used.
Spreadsheets do not check for dimensional errors, such as multiplying money by money, or adding money to interest rates.
There is nowhere to put large amounts of program documentation. Contrast with programming languages, which have comment statements.
To reuse code, you need to cut and paste to move it from one sheet to another. Tedious, error-prone, you may forget to change absolute cell references.
The structure of large models is not obvious. Some models are very big:
Personal Computer World May 1995
cites an oil business model with 80 linked worksheets totalling 120 MB.
Spreadsheets are easy to start with. They tempt users to build ever bigger and bigger models, but don't provide the structuring tools these models need.
It is common practice to generate spreadsheets by Visual Basic programs. To understand such models, you need to read a program that generates another program. This is not easy.
Copyright © 1998 J Ireson-Paine. All rights reserved