Conference paper Open Access

Copy-Paste Tracking: Fixing Spreadsheets Without Breaking Them

Hermans, Felienne

Spreadsheets are the most popular live programming environments, but they are also notoriously fault-prone. One reason for this is that users actively rely on copy-paste to make up for the lack of abstraction mechanisms. Adding abstraction however, introduces indirection and thus cognitive distance. In this paper we propose an alternative: copy-paste tracking. Tracking copies that spreadsheet users make, allows them to directly edit copy-pasted formulas, but instead of changing only a single instance, the changes will be propagated to all formulas copied from the same source. As a result, spreadsheet users will enjoy the benefits of abstraction without its drawback.

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