Spreadsheet Implementation Technology

Peter Sestoft         

Published by

MIT Press

ISBN

9780262526647

RRP

£24.95

Reviewed by

Mike Rees MBCS CITP, IT Consultant

Score

8 out of 10

This book sets out ‘to enable others to make experiments with innovative spreadsheet functionality and with new ways to implement such functionality.’

The author draws on two open-source products - Corecalc and Funcalc - and an explanation of these takes up a large proportion of the publication. Both Corecalc and Funcalc are available under an MIT-style licence, which means that although these modules can be used for free (including for commercial purposes), the copyright notices must remain in place.

The Corecalc section starts off by describing core implementation - which will be useful to readers who want to modify or extend the Corecalc implementation or who want to create their own spreadsheet implementation. Then, alternative designs, support graphs and non-contiguous support are covered in subsequent chapters.

The Funcalc implementation is an extension of Corecalc, and it supports sheet-defined functions; functions created using ordinary formulae and no external language.

The initial Funcalc section of the book demonstrates that sheet-defined functions can be more efficient than using external lanuguages such as VBA. The remaining sections then go on to cover compilation of functions, calling functions, evaluation and partial evaluation conditions and finally a brief look at the Excel look-alike built-in functions.

There are plenty of examples in these chapters, and throughout the book.  

For aspiring and qualified software engineers (and those who also probably operate in academic rather than commercial circles), this book provides a definitive reference source.  

For other readers who might want or need an in-depth resource on the underlying principles and mechanics of a spreadsheet engine, the first chapter in particular is highly recommended.

A professional, well-written publication with an excellent bibliography and index.

All in all the book represents good value for its somewhat specialist audience.

Further information: MIT Press

November 2014