Sign In

Communications of the ACM

ACM News

Spreadsheets Are Hot—and Cranking Out Complex Code

View as: Print Mobile App Share:

Spreadsheets are joining the “no code” trend in Silicon Valley—they’re becoming tools that let non-programmers automate some very complex workflows.

Credit: WIRED, Getty Images

For decades, the spreadsheet has been the least sexy form of consumer software. Necessary? Sure. Critical to the drudgery of running a business, doing your banking, or figuring out a financial plan? 100 percent.

But an exciting, innovative piece of tech? Oh God no. If you were a hotshot young developer in recent years, you flocked to Silicon Valley's hyperoxygenated fields, such as AI or crypto or the various legless metaversii. You didn't go into spreadsheets. That was grey-flannel-suit territory.

This meant that for decades, very little effort went into improving this venerable piece of officeware. Yeah, Google put spreadsheets online in 2006 (by buying up a firm that had done so), and in 2012 Airtable launched a clever sort of turducken of a database and spreadsheet. But those were the exceptions. Mostly, startups were content to let Excel and Sheets be the 100-pound gorillas, dominating a user base of about 2 billion people who use spreadsheets. And users have been generally pretty happy with Excel and Sheets.

Except this made this neglected field an opportunity, too, right? Not a lot of software categories have a planet-wide base of users yet few coders trying to bust out new features.

Suddenly, the field has begun to bloom.

From Wired
View Full Article



No entries found