Context : SpreadSheets (ReadWith) ProgrammingInSpreadsheets

Here's something I'm writing on TheLongTail/OfSoftware mailing list :

I wonder what would happen if there was a technology that let a skilled developer create an application at (next-to) zero cost. It seems that there'd still be a couple of barriers to hiring this zero-cost developer :

a) you still have to give a specification to him / her. You have the cost of getting that clear in your own mind and communicating with the developer.

b) probably you have to schedule this within a limited, fixed time, at the beginning of the "waterfall" unless you have the money to keep the developer on a retainer.

Compare this with the situation where the users create and configure the application as they go along. They know (or discover) the spec. while using the application. And they are always their own "onsite customer".

I think Excel, in a lot of ways, would be ideal for this kind of application. But where it fails is in supporting the customer to abstract the application out of the initial spread-sheet. To compile and package it. Users are stuck in the "this is my data-file, and Excel is the tool to use it" paradigm rather than "Excel is a development environment for producing further apps"

Obviously, DabbleDb is getting there. But I'd like to see something that could extract and do interesting things with the algorithms and calculations and graphs, as well as the data-tables.

Using ExCel for development :