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Pedro Maia, Jorge Mendes, Jacome Cunha, Henrique Rebelo, & Joao Saraiva


A spreadsheet usually starts as a simple and single-user software artifact, but, as frequent as in other software systems, quickly evolves into a complex system developed by many actors.

Often, different users work on different aspects of the same spreadsheet: while a secretary may be only involved in adding plain data to the spreadsheet, an accountant may define new business rules, while an engineer may need to adapt the spreadsheet content so it can be used by other software systems. Unfortunately, spreadsheet systems do not offer modular mechanisms, and as a consequence, some of the previous tasks may be defined by adding intrusive "code" to the spreadsheet.

In this paper we go through the design and implementation of an aspect-oriented language for spreadsheets so that users can work on different aspects of a spreadsheet in a modular way. For example, aspects can be defined in order to introduce new business rules to an existing spreadsheet, or to manipulate the spreadsheet data to be ported to another system.

Aspects are defined as aspect-oriented program specifications that are dynamically woven into the underlying spreadsheet by an aspect weaver. In this aspect-oriented style of spreadsheet development, different users develop, or reuse, aspects without adding intrusive code to the original spreadsheet. Such code is added/executed by the spreadsheet weaving mechanism proposed in this paper.


A weaver for aspect-oriented spreadsheets
A weaver for aspect-oriented spreadsheets

This paper proposes the use of aspect-oriented programming for spreadsheets. We have designed an aspect language that considers spreadsheet peculiarities, and a dynamic weaver that is embedded in the evaluation mechanism of a spreadsheet system.

The figure illustrates the integration of our weaver with a spreadsheet system to create an aspect-oriented spreadsheet system.


2015, 2nd Workshop on Software Engineering Methods in Spreadsheets

Full article

Towards the design and implementation of aspect-oriented programming for spreadsheets