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Spreadsheet Formula Highlighting Tool

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000036885D
Original Publication Date: 1989-Nov-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Jan-29
Document File: 2 page(s) / 13K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Brown, PS: AUTHOR

Abstract

A technique is described whereby a spreadsheet formula highlighting tool provides a function to be integrated with spreadsheet programs, such as Lotus 1-2-3. It is designed to reduce formula errors during the creation of spreadsheet applications and to provide a faster means of debugging errors.

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Spreadsheet Formula Highlighting Tool

A technique is described whereby a spreadsheet formula highlighting tool provides a function to be integrated with spreadsheet programs, such as Lotus 1- 2-3. It is designed to reduce formula errors during the creation of spreadsheet applications and to provide a faster means of debugging errors.

The spreadsheet highlighting tool provides the highlighting of specific cells when the cursor is positioned in a cell containing a formula. This highlighting of the cells referenced by a formula tends to reduce the incidence of user- generated errors and provides a faster means of debugging of spreadsheet applications, as compared with the use of a spreadsheet without the highlighting tool.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that electronic spreadsheets are highly susceptible to user-generated errors and that many of the errors occur in the area of formula generation. Typical of the errors is reversing the minuend and subtrahend in a subtraction formula or mis-typing a raw number in a formula. Since formulas are largely hidden in the spreadsheet, that is, the user has a window onto only one formula at a time, specifically the formula is contained in the current cell where the cursor is located.

Since formulas are generally displayed in a location that is physically separate from the spreadsheet, to check the accuracy of a formula, the user's eyes and attention must go back and forth among the formula, the body of the spreadsheet where the result of the formula is located, and the row and column labels in the spreadsheet border. During this process of switching attention, users may lose information from short-term memory, or from th...