Chapter 5: What Is a Spreadsheet Application?

IN THIS CHAPTER

Getting a working definition of a spreadsheet application

Understanding the difference between a spreadsheet user and a spreadsheet developer

Classifying spreadsheet users to help you conceptualize the audience for your applications

Discussing why people use spreadsheets

Exploring a taxonomy of the basic types of spreadsheets

Spreadsheet Applications

For the purposes of this book, a spreadsheet application is a spreadsheet file (or group of related files) that is designed so that someone other than the developer can perform useful work without extensive training. According to this definition, most of the spreadsheet files that you've developed probably don't qualify as spreadsheet applications. You may have dozens or hundreds of spreadsheet files on your hard drive, but it's a safe bet that most of them aren't really designed for others to use.

A good spreadsheet application has the following characteristics:

It enables the end user to perform a task that he or she probably would not be able to do otherwise.

It provides the appropriate solution to the problem. (A spreadsheet environment isn't always the optimal approach.)

It accomplishes what it is supposed to do. This prerequisite may be obvious, but it's not at all uncommon for applications to fail this test.

It produces accurate results and is free of bugs.

It uses appropriate and efficient methods and algorithms to accomplish its job.

It traps ...

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