Why Spreadsheets Are The Biggest Gateway To Coding
But I always argue these surveys are off base.
I maintain that if you wanted to find the place where the most folks on the planet are doing programming — by which I mean they are i) issuing commands to a computer that coax it to ii) manipulate and crunch data, to iii) store things in databases, to iv) extract them, and then v) show the data someone else, and to vi) make digital tools that other folks use …
… the answer is simple: It’s the spreadsheet.
When I say “spreadsheet” I mean Excel, Google Sheets, Apple’s Numbers, or any other similar tool. This is a nuttily popular category of software: There are an estimated 2 billion people using spreadsheets on the planet.
Spreadsheets are thus the most popular programming environment on the planet.
Now, you probably noticed I called it the most popular programming “environment”, heh.
I didn’t call it a “programming language.”
That’s because spreadsheets are even better — at least when it comes to being welcoming to newcomers. Basically, spreadsheets like Excel or Google Sheets achieve the remarkable feat of a) rolling a programming language inside b) a code-writing IDE that also includes, natively, c) a database and d) the ability to create UIs, too.
That is an absolute home run of a coding environment, people! It is thus no wonder spreadsheets have conquered the world. They have also, along the way, introduced hundreds of millions of folks to core concepts in programming.
Let’s break this down a bit. Here’s What Spreadsheets Do Amazingly Right As a Gateway To Coding …
1) Each spreadsheet is a simple and visual database
When most people try Excel, what’s the first thing they do? They just shove info into it.