Initial report on Object Spreadsheets
There is a growing demand for data-driven web applications that help automate organizational and business processes of low to medium complexity by letting users view and update structured data in controlled ways. We present Object Spreadsheets, an end-user development tool that combines a spreadsheet interface with a rich data model to help the process administrators build the logic for such applications themselves. Its all-in-one interface with immediate feedback has the potential to bring more complex tasks within reach of end-user developers, compared to existing approaches. Our data model is based on the structure of entity-relationship models and directly supports nested variable-size collections and object references, which are common in web applications but poorly accommodated by traditional spreadsheets. Object Spreadsheets has a formula language suited to the data model and supports stored procedures to specify the forms of updates that application users may make. Formulas can be used to assemble data in the exact structure in which it is to be shown in the application UI, simplifying the task of UI building; we intend for Object Spreadsheets to be integrated with a UI builder to provide a complete solution for application development. We describe our prototype implementation and several example applications we built to demonstrate the applicability of the tool.