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The Net Takeaway: Resolver One


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Resolver One · 09/26/2008 06:41 PM, Analysis

What if you were given a spreadsheet which was actually a front end to a set of Python calculations? So that, when you wanted something which would just, well, act like a program in the spreadsheet, you just write the Python?

Well, I haven’t seen a perfect one yet, but I am intrigued by this product, Resolver One.

From their site:

It retains the familiar table-based interface, but has been comprehensively designed to give you the power and flexibility that the traditional spreadsheet lacks. Every time a you change a Resolver One spreadsheet, the software generates Python code expressing the your formulae as a computer program; this code is immediately executed, and the results are displayed back to you in the spreadsheet interface. You can then edit the code, writing your own functions and algorithms, and see the results in the grid too.

It’s interesting: it blurs the line between data grid and programming language on the data. If you think about it, SPSS and other stats grids are pretty rigid: columns of data, variable names at top, rownums along the side. Then came Pivot Tables and OLAP approaches which allow flexiblity in crosstabs. But the spreadsheet is really a blank canvas: throw your data anywhere, do something with it, then reference it. What was missing was stronger link to a programming language. Sure, VBA was in Office, but it was a pain to get to and a pain to use. It was clearly aimed at people writing applications, not people who wanted to manipulate the sheet as part of an analysis.

Besides all the stuff at their site, there are some good examples of what you can really do with it at Resolver Hacks.

I’ll play with it (they have a non-commercial license, totally cool!) and update the post with my thoughts.

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