Excel to web

We all use spreadsheets as data-containers - is that really smart?

Spreadsheet usage in organizations

Currently, there are thousands of spreadsheets living in all private and public organizations that actually acts as data-containers. Originally, spreadsheets were developed to calculate things i.e. budgets, cost calculations, engineering calculations etc. but with time spreadsheet usage evolved into more database related tasks as well.

As the capacity of personal computers increased, that spreadsheet could contain more and more data, and at some point, the PCs had so much space and power available, that it could store rows and columns enough to solve daily problems like sales statistics, contact lists, inventory transactions etc.

The question is: Are spreadsheets really the right tool for these type of database related tasks? If not are affordable alternatives present?

Constraints in spreadsheets

  • Spreadsheets are files, which means that only one person can work with the data at a time.
  • You can password protect spreadsheets, but you cannot define which users have access (read/write/delete) to rows or columns.
  • If you want to send spreadsheets, it is usually done in emails, which represent a security problem.
  • If the same spreadsheet is present in several locations inside an organization as multiple copies, it is hard to determine which of the copies is the most current and to synchronize information between the spreadsheets.
  • Spreadsheet data are only available on mobile devices in limited editions.
  • Spreadsheet data can only be accessed as rows and columns, not in nicely formatted entry forms.
  • Indeed, spreadsheets offer search facilities, but they do not offer complex relational searches over several tables.

Example of web application layout

Here are a number of screenshots from a web application. Download the demand specification spreadsheet by clicking the icon below.

Login with password control

Can be installed for administrators to register users or for users to register themeselves. In this case the users can register themeselves, where they receive a confirmation email afterwards.

Menus with images and help

Images and colors are stated when you define the application. Normally, images are 1024x768 pixel. You can also define logo, description and copyright statements..

Lists with search and sort facilities

List in tables, cards or just as names. We can create user groups in the security system where you define if users should be able to see all records or only own records.

Detail forms with overview

Detail screen for each record that also enables you to see related data i.e. contact persons under a company. You can also access files and images attached to individual records.

Create and update records

Forms where users can create and update records, nicely grouped into field groups. If the table has many fields, we can choose to show fields in tabs.

Group based security setup

The system allows you to create user groups and attach users to these groups. You can specify which groups can see menus, view records, add records, update records, delete records and export records down to table level.

Menus and lists behaves according to security setup depending on who is logged into the system.