From spreadsheets to dataflow diagrams

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Via It will never work in practice, I discover the work (and of Felienne Hermans, Martin Pinzger and Arie van Deursen on “Supporting Professional Spreadsheet Users by Generating Leveled Dataflow Diagrams” (to avoid the paywall, download this free technical report).

As they say in the paper abstract: “In this paper, we first study the problems and information needs of professional spreadsheet users by means of a survey conducted at a large financial company. Based on these needs, we then present an approach that extracts this information from spreadsheets and presents it in a compact and easy to understand way, using leveled dataflow diagrams. Our approach comes with three different views on the dataflow and allows the user to analyze the dataflow diagrams in a top-down fashion also using slicing techniques […] The results of the evaluation clearly indicate the demand for and usefulness of our approach in ease the understanding of spreadsheets”

So, I’d say once again, models are coming to the rescue!

The authors have continued working on this “spreadsheet analysis / understandability topic” and even created a company to commercialize the results so if you’re having this kind of issues with spreadsheets, take a look!.

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