Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Spreadsheets are used to develop application software that is distributed to users. Unfortunately, the users often have the ability to change the programming statements (“source code”) of the spreadsheet application. This causes a host of problems. By critically examining the suitability of spreadsheet computer programming languages for application development, six “application development features” are identified, with source code protection being the most important. We investigate the status of these features and discuss how they might be implemented in the dominant Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and in the new Google Spreadsheet. Although Google Spreadsheet currently provides no source code control, its web-centric delivery model offers technical advantages for future provision of a rich set of features. Excel has a number of tools that can be combined to provide “pretty good protection” of source code, but weak passwords reduce its robustness. User access to Excel source code must be considered a programmer choice rather than an attribute of the spreadsheet.


Presented at EuSpRIG 8th annual conference at the University of Greenwich, London UK on July 11-13 2007.