Discovery-Based Edit Assistance for Spreadsheets

Discovery-Based Edit Assistance for Spreadsheets, Cunha, Jácome, Saraiva João, and Visser Joost , Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC), Washington, DC, USA, p.233–237, (2009)


Spreadsheets can be viewed as a highly flexible end-users programming environment which enjoys wide-spread adoption. But spreadsheets lack many of the structured programming concepts of regular programming paradigms. In particular, the lack of data structures in spreadsheets may lead spreadsheet users to cause redundancy, loss, or corruption of data during edit actions. In this paper, we demonstrate how implicit structural properties of spreadsheet data can be exploited to offer edit assistance to spreadsheet users. Our approach is based on the discovery of functional dependencies among data items which allow automatic reconstruction of a relational database schema. From this schema, new formulas and visual objects are embedded into the spreadsheet to offer features for auto-completion, guarded deletion, and controlled insertion. Schema discovery and spreadsheet enhancement are carried out automatically in the background and do not disturb normal user experience.



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