A Methodology for Testing Spreadsheets
G. Rothermel, M. Burnett, L. Li, C. DuPuis, and A. Sheretov
ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology
V. 10, no. 2, January 2001, pages 110-147.

Abstract

Spreadsheet languages, which include commercial spreadsheets and various research systems, have had a substantial impact on end-user computing. Research shows, however, that spreadsheets often contain faults; thus, we would like to provide at least some of the benefits of formal testing methodologies to the creators of spreadsheets. This paper presents a testing methodology that adapts data flow adequacy criteria and coverage monitoring to the task of testing spreadsheets. To accommodate the evaluation model used with spreadsheets, and the interactive process by which they are created, our methodology is incremental. To accommodate the users of spreadsheet languages, we provide an interface to our methodology that does not require an understanding of testing theory. We have implemented our testing methodology in the context of the Forms/3 visual spreadsheet language. We report on the methodology, its time and space costs, and the mapping from the testing strategy to the user interface. In an empirical study, we found that test suites created according to our methodology detected, on average, 81% of the faults in a set of faulty spreadsheets, significantly outperforming randomly generated test suites.