Spreadsheet testing in practice

Sohon Roy, Felienne Hermans, Arie Van Deursen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
607 Downloads (Pure)


Despite being popular end-user tools, spreadsheets suffer from the vulnerability of error-proneness. In software engineering, testing has been proposed as a way to address errors. It is important therefore to know whether spreadsheet users also test, or how do they test and to what extent, especially since most spreadsheet users do not have the training, or experience, of software engineering principles. Towards this end, we conduct a two-phase mixed methods study. First, a qualitative phase, in which we interview 12 spreadsheet users, and second, a quantitative phase, in which we conduct an online survey completed by 72 users. The outcome of the interviews, organized into four different categories, consists of an overview of test practices, perceptions of spreadsheet users about testing, a set of preventive measures for avoiding errors, and an overview of maintenance practices for ensuring correctness of spreadsheets over time. The survey adds to the findings by providing quantitative estimates indicating that ensuring correctness is an important concern, and a major fraction of users do test their spreadsheets. However, their techniques are largely manual and lack formalism. Tools and automated supports are rarely used.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 24th International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution and Reengineering, SANER 2017
EditorsMartin Pinzger, Gabriele Bavota, Andrian Marcus
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5090-5501-2
ISBN (Print) 978-1-5090-5502-9
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2017
EventSANER 2017: 24th IEEE International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution, and Reengineering - Klagenfurt, Austria
Duration: 21 Feb 201724 Feb 2017


ConferenceSANER 2017


  • Testing
  • Interviews
  • Software engineering
  • Manuals
  • Encoding
  • Training
  • Software


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