Incorporating Incremental Validation and Impact Analysis Into Spreadsheet Maintenance: An Empirical Study
V. Krishna, C. Cook, D. Keller, J. Cantrell, C. Wallace, M. Burnett, and G. Rothermel
Proceedings of the International Conference on Software Maintenance
November, 2001, pages 72-81.


Spreadsheet language programs, which include commercial spreadsheets, are among the most common form of software in use today. Unlike more ``traditional'' forms of software, however, spreadsheet language programs are created and maintained by end-users with little or no programming experience. As a result, a high percentage of these programs contain errors. Unfortunately, software engineering research has for the most part ignored this problem. We have developed a methodology that is designed to aid end-users in developing, testing, and maintaining spreadsheet language programs. The methodology communicates testing information and information about the impact of cell changes to users in a manner that does not require and understanding of formal testing theory or the behind the scenes mechanisms. This paper presents the results of an empirical study that shows that, during maintenance, end-users using our methodology were more accurate in making changes and did a significantly better job of validating their spreadsheets than end-users without the methodology.