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Spreadsheets are, in actual fact, the most widely used programming environment, and the most approachable. Most programmer-developed systems are less intuitive and less powerful than a hacky spreadsheet is to the office that created it. I have often encountered other programmers who are somewhat disdainful of user-developed spreadsheets, and I try not to have that attitude. You have to be a top-notch programmer, with a keen interest in understanding your users and their business needs, to do better than their spreadsheet, hacky as it may well be.

For a spreadsheet power user, there is huge value in being able to reverse engineer the logic in a series of calculations. It’s similar to looking at the source code for a tool to understand its output. I’ve seen some monstrously complicated sheets that with enough diligence you can see all the steps for the final output.

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