Does your spreadsheet use make you a developer?

by | Jun 24, 2021

 

So, it struck me recently that my wife’s Excel skills and spreadsheet use (she works in a school) could mean that she’s a developer but just doesn’t know it. And if this is the case, does this mean that Excel users are the largest tribe of developers on the planet?

The spreadsheet she has been working on is simple enough: pupil name in one column and semi-skimmed or soya in another column. At the bottom of the list, she had two numbers, one for the number of pupils having semi-skimmed milk, and the other for soya milk.

I asked her how she had calculated the numbers, thinking she would tell me that she counted them and typed in the number. She told me, “It’s simple. I used COUNTIF to count if they are semi-skimmed or soya milk drinkers.”

And that was when it struck me! Excel users are the largest tribe of developers on the planet by a country mile. 800 million users at the last count and growing.

Spreadsheet users are developers

Think about it for a minute. What is Excel doing when my wife types  =COUNTIF(B1:B30,”Semi”) into one cell and =COUNTIF(B1:B30,”Soya”) in another? Excel interprets the cell and calculates the value it should be from the function used, just like how each line is interpreted in a language like JavaScript or Python.

So, I wondered how you might do something like this in a traditional programming language. I asked my 15-year-old son to help but it turned out he was too busy playing Fifa!

So, my colleague and CSO at Squirrel365, Donald MacCormick came to my rescue and gave me the following two ways of doing this in JavaScript code, both based on the data:

milkInfo =        [['John','semi-skimmed'], 
                   ['Jane','soya'], 
                   ['Jack','soya'], 
                   ['Jeremy','semi-skimmed'], 
                   ['Jay','soya'], 
                   ['Jazira','semi-skimmed'], 
                   ['Justine','soya'], 
                   ['Jasmine','soya'], 
                   ['Jumana','semi-skimmed'], 
                   ['Jacob','soya'], 
                   ['Jaosie','semi-skimmed']]

(Note that even specifying the data is much more complex in a non-spreadsheet environment!)

 

Method 1

var semiSkimmedCount=0; 
var soyaCount=0; 
for (var i = 0; i < milkInfo.length ; i++){ 
  if (milkInfo[i][1] == "semi-skimmed"){ 
    semiSkimmedCount=semiSkimmedCount+1 
  }; 
     if (milkInfo[i][1] == "soya"){ 
    soyaCount=soyaCount+1 
  };

 

 Method 2

semiSkimmedCount = milkInfo.filter(x => x[1]=='semi-skimmed').length 
soyaCount = milkInfo.filter(x => x[1]=='soya').length

 

Neither method would be that daunting to someone with experience in programming languages, but that is the point — most spreadsheet users do not have this type of experience.

 

Applications without coding. Anyone can do it.

So, if only my wife could harness the skills that she does have to enhance her spreadsheet use and drive the logic behind applications? Could she build applications without coding?

Well, that’s exactly what Squirrel365 does. It turns everyday Excel users into no-code application developers using clicks not code. It uses your Excel skills to help build the logic layer of your app, it’s that simple.

Squirrel365 transforms your spreadsheets into dynamic calculators, interactive web documents, and cloud business apps, all without a single line of code. Just your Excel skills.

So yes, I do believe Excel users are the largest tribe of developers on the planet.

 

If you want to pick up some tips from an Excel expert, have a read of 5 Essential tips from John Michaloudis. Or if you want to see how Squirrel365 works against your spreadsheets, try it for free today for 30 days.

 

 

 

 

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