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I'd rather edit my spreadsheet with a text editor

On Thu, Jun 12, 2003 at 02:27:24AM -0700, Avi Bryant wrote:
> Never mind that you *could* trivially set up, say, a Squeak image so that
> you could edit source in a file and run it from the shell - that would be
> completely missing the point, and you might as well be using Ruby.  This
> isn't something that would even occur to a non-programmer ("yeah, Excel
> is nice, but I'd rather edit my spreadsheet with a text editor...")

I would _so_ rather edit my spreadsheet with a text editor.  I'm not
an experienced spreadsheet user, but every time I've tried, it's
become an unmaintainable mess.  How do you debug a spreadsheet?  If
something's wrong, do you have to inspect every single cell to find
the problem?  Or is there some better way I'm missing?  (Hom many
real-world spreadsheets do you suppose have an unnoticed error due
to a stray keypress?)

I usually end up rewriting the spreadsheet in a normal programming
language, with hacked-up spreadsheet-like helper functions, and
spitting out the results in a crude text form.  At least then I can
organize things in a logical fashion, include comments, try out
different variations without getting all mixed up, etc.

What I would really like is an environment in which I could program
the logic in a text editor, then map the inputs and outputs to
grids, graphs, and charts in arbitrary ways.

Non-programmers achieve impressive results with spreadsheets, and I
don't begrudge them this tool.  But I suspect there would be
something better for both programmers and non-programmers if the
spreadsheet were not so entrenched.