Spreadsheet from 1700 BCE, according to Daniel Mansfield and Norman Wildberger

Excel: R or jupyter for people who are prepared to pay for an inferior version of a free app.

In my view, the unique selling point of spreadsheet is providing a GUI for your data. This is not much of a selling point since a non-spreadsheet statistics programs like R can also have a GUI and better graphing and analytics besides, and the spreadsheet GUI is obtrusive and limiting by comparison. I say this as someone who finds the R language design icky. Spreadsheets are good at viewing data but awful at non-trivial things.

But this GUI business does pays for itself when it comes to collaborative editing or analysis of your data. In the 21st century there are online collaborative spreadsheets. Sharing the workload is a good thing; hardly a data set worth having was collected by one person. (Although I do want a sneakernet version of these online apps)

Here, therefore, is a list of online collaborative data-analysis spreadsheet-like tools, which is the only kind that is not a pure waste of time. Srsly, if your browser is running a spreadsheet, it seems like it may as well be full-stack javascript.

  • Luckysheet embeds a spreadsheet element

  • Streamsheets is a spreadsheet for real-time live-updating data. They seem to be node-based, FWIW, and open source apparently. (source).

  • jExcel is not a full spreadsheet implementation but a javascript widget for implementing spreadsheet interfaces for online stuff. Even handles spreadsheet formulae.

  • stencila is a GUI for reproducible research, like jupyter but for a less-technical crowd. (e.g. spreadsheet users). I think it’s based on R?

  • guesstimate is a neat proof-of-concept probabilistic programming spreadsheet. Monte Carlo propagation-of-error. (source, Blog post)

  • ethersheet is a node.js-backed cypherpunkish spreadsheet made by privacy warriors, much like sibling project etherpad. Requires MySQL.

  • userland is a hybrid of spreadsheets and dataflow patching

  • ethercalc is another node.js-backed spreadsheet with

    • explicit design documentation,
    • modern technology, (redis or fs)
    • and an explicit pedigree starting with Dan Bricklin, the progenitor of all spreadsheets.

    On the other hand,

    • It may be a one-person shop, and
    • the interface is dilapidated vintage classic.

    Kind of a HD text mode, with certain shortcomings such as lack of column selection.

  • Google docs offers a spreadsheet, although I do try to avoid their products.

  • airtable is another unorthodox productivity/managing/note-taking thing which I had recommended to me but have not investigated yet. It seems to be a full-featured app platform.

  • honeycode is a hosted service from Amazon that allows you to use a spreadsheet0style interface to generated real codeless apps. Airtable with big business backing, or google sheets with an app-pltform-first orientation.

Also of note:

  • CKAN “is a powerful data management system that makes data accessible — by providing tools to streamline publishing, sharing, finding and using data. CKAN is aimed at data publishers (national and regional governments, companies and organizations) wanting to make their data open and available.”

    • Seems to have a data table library called recline.
  • treesheets is an open-source data GUI which is not really calculation-focussed but more a hierarchical freeform database.

  • pandas can read Excel sheets into python

  • Soulver is a macOS/iOS app that will do plain-ish language calculations with smart currency conversion etc. (USD30)

  • R’s shiny does some of the stuff that spreadsheets do, being an interactive statistical data app. It is harder for beginners to get started with, although still not that hard.