Spreadsheets are the world’s most widely used programming language, by several orders of magnitude.
Many developers don’t like it, but this quote is undeniable. Spreadsheets are used in every company, even companies where there is a huge amount of development involved, for many tasks there are a lot of spreadsheets going around via email.
Microsoft knows that, and very clearly knows the limitations of Excel and how customers are abusing it to try to make something which is not possible by default, so they try to find all sort of hacks around it.
We asked ourselves whether it would be possible to apply programming language research ideas to make spreadsheets a better programming language? If we could, that would empower a huge user community to do more.
This is an interesting idea from Microsoft, and not an easy challenge. This article explains what they added to Excel. They also wrote multiple papers on the findings and more in details how they implemented programming approaches to Excel. All papers are linked in the article if you are more curious about it.
Now, I really appreciate Microsoft advancing Excel for multiple customer cases, but as a developer, I’m a bit worried about all the changes that need to be done in the libraries to support these kinds of advanced features. I don’t think will be trivial to read those Excel files from another programming language.