I'm fascinated* with the potential of spreadsheets cells as the building blocks of programs. They could open General Purpose Computing to the next 1 billion application builders.
Spreadsheets have outgrown their humble beginnings. They started as an accounting tool. Now they power just about any task and department:
- lead generation
- planning marketing campaigns
- building dashboards
- converting, cleaning, exporting data
- managing HR processes (recruitment)
- tracking inventory
- creating complex data models
Why? Because they are very simple to use*:
- They are 2D. It's quite intuitive to use table rows and cols to define program relationships.
- They are progressive. You can start small and grow data and logic. They are also forgiving, allowing parts of the program to work even when others are unfinished or broken.
- They're visual. You can add cues about the meaning of cells, like colors and typefaces.
- They're powerful. Their functions effortlessly perform operations on data, like
- They are ops-free. No need to compile or deploy them. They can also be shared with others.
This makes them great to build custom tools that are easy to maintain. Non-techies find programming hard; maintaining applications is even harder. Spreadsheets provide the benefits without those problems.
In fact, if we abstract them, they are already close to a generic program or a computer.
|Precedents/ dependents||Triggers/ side-effects||I/O|
|Values (stored)||Database/ persistence||Storage|
Classic spreadsheets are still behind on things like UI, automation or APIs. They are needlessly ugly and static for today's day and age.
I have started a company to do fix this with others who feel the same pains. We a are building dashdash, an app creator with a spreadsheet interface!
- we empower end-users as creators, giving them access to modern computation like data & APIs in a spreadsheet;
- we generate slick shareable web apps giving creators a wider audience for their spreadsheets;
- we connect creators to catalyze and expand a community of a billion strong spreadsheet users.