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2011
End-users Productivity in Model-based Spreadsheets: An Empirical Study, Beckwith, Laura, Cunha Jácome, Fernandes João Paulo, and Saraiva João , Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on End-User Development, June, Heidelberg, p.282–288, (2011) Abstractiseud11.pdf

Spreadsheetsarewidelyusedandstudiesshowthatmostoftheexisting ones contain non-trivial errors. To improve end-users productivity, recent research proposes the use of a model-driven engineering approach to spreadsheets. In this paper we conduct the first empirical study to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of this approach. A set of spreadsheet end users worked with two different model-based spreadsheets. We present and analyze here the results achieved.

An Empirical Study on End-users Productivity Using Model-based Spreadsheets, Beckwith, Laura, Cunha Jácome, Fernandes João Paulo, and Saraiva João , Proceedings of the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group, July, p.87–100, (2011) Abstracteusprig11.pdf

Spreadsheets are widely used, and studies have shown that most end-user spreadsheets contain non-trivial errors. To improve end-users productivity, recent research proposes the use of a model-driven engineering approach to spreadsheets. In this paper we conduct the first systematic empirical study to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of this approach. A set of spreadsheet end users worked with two different model-based spreadsheets, and we present and analyze here the results achieved.

Embedding and Evolution of Spreadsheet Models in Spreadsheet Systems, Cunha, Jácome, Fernandes João Paulo, Mendes Jorge, and Saraiva João , Proceedings of the 2011 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, Washington, DC, USA, p.186–201, (2011) Abstractvlhcc11.pdf

This paper describes the embedding of ClassSheet models in spreadsheet systems. ClassSheet models are well-known and describe the business logic of spreadsheet data. We embed this domain specific model representation on the (general purpose) spreadsheet system it models. By defining such an embedding, we provide end users a model-driven engineering spreadsheet developing environment. End users can interact with both the model and the spreadsheet data in the same environment. Moreover, we use advanced techniques to evolve spreadsheets and models and to have them synchronized. In this paper we present our work on extending a widely used spreadsheet system with such a model-driven spreadsheet engineering environment.

Type-Safe Evolution of Spreadsheets, Cunha, Jácome, Visser Joost, Alves Tiago, and Saraiva João , Proceedings of the 14th International Conference Fundamental Approaches to Software Engineering (FASE '11): Part of the Joint European Conferences on Theory and Practice of Software (ETAPS '11), Volume 6603, p.186–201, (2011) Abstractfase11.pdf

Spreadsheets are notoriously error-prone. To help avoid the introduction of errors when changing spreadsheets, models that capture the structure and interdependencies of spreadsheets at a conceptual level have been proposed. Thus, spreadsheet evolution can be made safe within the confines of a model. As in any other model/instance setting, evolution may not only require changes at the instance level but also at the model level. When model changes are required, the safety of instance evolution can not be guarded by the model alone. We have designed an appropriate representation of spreadsheet models, including the fundamental notions of formulæand references. For these models and their instances, we have designed coupled transformation rules that cover specific spreadsheet evolution steps, such as the insertion of columns in all occurrences of a repeated block of cells. Each model-level transformation rule is coupled with instance level migration rules from the source to the target model and vice versa. These coupled rules can be composed to create compound transformations at the model level inducing compound transformations at the instance level. This approach guarantees safe evolution of spreadsheets even when models change.

2010
Automatically Inferring ClassSheet Models from Spreadsheets, Cunha, Jácome, Erwig Martin, and Saraiva João , Proceedings of the 2010 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing, Washington, DC, USA, p.93–100, (2010) Abstractvlhcc10.pdf

Many errors in spreadsheet formulas can be avoided if spreadsheets are built automatically from higher-level models that can encode and enforce consistency constraints. However, designing such models is time consuming and requires expertise beyond the knowledge to work with spreadsheets. Legacy spreadsheets pose a particular challenge to the approach of controlling spreadsheet evolution through higher-level models, because the need for a model might be overshadowed by two problems: (A) The benefit of creating a spreadsheet is lacking since the legacy spreadsheet already exists, and (B) existing data must be transferred into the new model-generated spreadsheet. To address these problems and to support the model-driven spreadsheet engineering approach, we have developed a tool that can automatically infer ClassSheet models from spreadsheets. To this end, we have adapted a method to infer entity/relationship models from relational database to the spreadsheets/ClassSheets realm. We have implemented our techniques in the HAEXCEL framework and integrated it with the ViTSL/Gencel spreadsheet generator, which allows the automatic generation of refactored spreadsheets from the inferred ClassSheet model. The resulting spreadsheet guides further changes and provably safeguards the spreadsheet against a large class of formula errors. The developed tool is a significant contribution to spreadsheet (reverse) engineering, because it fills an important gap and allows a promising design method (ClassSheets) to be applied to a huge collection of legacy spreadsheets with minimal effort.

End Users Productivity in Model-based Spreadsheets: An Empirical Study, Beckwith, Laura, Cunha Jácome, Fernandes João Paulo, and Saraiva João , Number DI-CCTC-10-10, (2010) Abstracttr_study.pdf

Spreadsheets are widely used by end users, and studies have shown that most end-user spreadsheets contain non-trivial errors. To improve end users productivity, recent research proposes the use of a model-driven engineering approach to spreadsheets. In this paper we conduct the first systematic empirical study to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of this approach. A set of spreadsheet end users worked with two different model-based spreadsheets, and we present and analyze the results achieved.

Type-Safe Evolution of Spreadsheets, Cunha, Jácome, Visser Joost, Alves Tiago, and Saraiva João , Number DI-CCTC-10-09, (2010) Abstracttr_evolution.pdf

Spreadsheets are notoriously error-prone. To help avoid the introduction of errors when changing spreadsheets, models that capture the structure and inter-dependencies of spreadsheets at a conceptual level have been proposed. Thus, spreadsheet evolution can be made safe within the confines of a model. As in any other model/instance setting, evolution may not only require changes at the instance level but also at the model level. When model changes are required, the safety of instance evolution can not be guarded by the model alone. Coupled transformation of models and instances are supported by the 2LT platform and have been applied for transformation of algebraic datatypes, XML schemas, and relational database models. We have extended 2LT to spreadsheet evolution. We have designed an appropriate representation of spreadsheet models, including the fundamental notions of formulæ, references, and blocks of cells. For these models and their instances, we have designed coupled transformation rules that cover specific spreadsheet evolution steps, such as extraction of a block of cells into a separate sheet or insertion of columns in all occurrences of a repeated block of cells. Each model-level transformation rule is coupled with instance level migration rules from the source to the target model and vice versa. These coupled rules can be composed to create compound transformations at the model level that induce compound transformations at the instance level. With this approach, spreadsheet evolution can be made safe, even when model changes are involved.

2009
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) Abstractvl-hcc09.pdf

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.

From Spreadsheets to Relational Databases and Back, Cunha, Jácome, Saraiva João, and Visser Joost , Proceedings of the 2009 ACM SIGPLAN Workshop on Partial Evaluation and Program Manipulation, New York, NY, USA, p.179–188, (2009) Abstractpepm09.pdf

This paper presents techniques and tools to transform spreadsheets into relational databases and back. A set of data refinement rules is introduced to map a tabular datatype into a relational database schema. Having expressed the transformation of the two data models as data refinements, we obtain for free the functions that migrate the data. We use well-known relational database techniques to optimize and query the data. Because data refinements define bidirectional transformations we can map such database back to an optimized spreadsheet. We have implemented the data refinement rules and we have constructed tools to manipulate, optimize and refactor Excel-like spreadsheets.

2007
A Type-Level Approach to Component Prototyping, Barbosa, Luís, Cunha Jácome, and Visser Joost , International Workshop on Synthesis and Analysis of Component Connectors: in Conjunction with the 6th ESEC/FSE Joint Meeting, New York, NY, USA, p.23–36, (2007) Abstractsyanco07.pdf

Algebraic theories for modeling components and their interactions offer abstraction over the specifics of component states and interfaces. For example, such theories deal with forms of sequential composition of two components in a manner independent of the type of data stored in the states of the components, and independent of the number and types of methods offered by the interfaces of the combinators. General purpose programming languages do not offer this level of abstraction, which implies that a gap must be bridged when turning component models into implementations. In this paper, we present an approach to prototyping of component-based systems that employs so-called type-level programming (or compile-time computation) to bridge the gap between abstract component models and their type-safe implementation in a functional programming language. We demonstrate our approach using Barbosa's model of components as generalized Mealy machines. For this model, we develop a combinator library in Haskell, which uses type-level programming with two effects. Firstly, wiring between components is computed during compilation. Secondly, the well-formedness of the component compositions is guarded by Haskell's strong type system.