[Haskell-cafe] Speculation, OT: Program a Spreadsheet

trent shipley trent.shipley at gmail.com
Sun Nov 19 07:05:57 UTC 2017

I have a vision for a spreadsheet that is programmable as a spreadsheet
itself. (Excel, for example, is programmable in VBA, but VBA requires
switching modes to the VBA environment and using a non-spreadsheet idiom.
Excel is not self-programmable as a spreadsheet.)

First there one function in a cell or array can reference other cells and
arrays, including those that contain functions themselves. Second,
IF(boolean,then,else) functions provide for selection.

Third, the Function local scope property for a sheet in a workbook, the
PARAMETER() function, and the RETURN() function allow the spreadsheet
programmer to write new functions, including recursive functions.

* Is a spreadsheet you can program from the spreadsheet a reasonable goal?
* Has it been done?
(I don't have the academic CS chops to know what keywords to use, and how
search CS publications in English.)

I have written a 30 page essay on Scriptsheets, but the essence boils down
to the above. (If you, for some inexplicable reason, actually want the
draft of the essay I'd be more than happy to share it with the
understanding that you would provide feedback).  I call the proposal

So the plan is to take something like GNUmeric or LibreOffice Calc and
graft on a primitive function sheet interpreter.

It would be natural to use C++, but the astute will note that a spreadsheet
basically does not rewrite cells (unless you use a circular reference), so
I'd also like to use a functional language, maybe Haskel.

* Would using a functional language as a basic language of the project save
effort and intellectual load?

In the longer term I'd like as much of the spreadsheet programmable as a
spreadsheet to be written to run on the JVM.

As near as I can tell near future Java and typed functional languages,
include the following options:

Kotlin and,

Note that a spreadsheet needs to give the satisfaction of immediate
results, or failing immediate results, the sensation of actively working,
so if the language could be interpreted that would be a huge help.

* Which combination of typed, compiled, interpreted, FOSS functional
language that runs on the JVM, JAVA, Haskell, C++, C, used in that order of
preference, makes the most sense for the Java compatible functional
language at the top of the preference hierarchy?

Note also, that I have only the equivalent of an AA degree from a CIS, not
a CS, perspective, so the odds are the whole idea is vaporware, unless I
can determine feasibility and desirability, then sweet talk real developers
to help out.

trent1967.48 at outlook.com (junk email address)

See also the spreadsheet at http://orgmode.org/  it's cool.
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