Question for the day... [Archive] - Glock Talk

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Obi Wan
08-23-2011, 09:31
Is it possible to take an Excel spreadsheet that's been developed over time into a 'darn good tool' and convert it into a protected and viable 'commercial' spreadsheet that could be sold for a nominal fee?

The reason I'm asking is that a friend and former neighbor of my FIL is a professional estimator for a commercial construction company. He's apparently their top estimator and has built his own spreadsheet over the years that essentially "fills in the voids" that most estimators and available programs have (I'm paraphrasing his words).

Anyway, he's talking about giving his spreadsheet away to students at the local tech school just so it provides value to someone when he retires... which his company is trying to keep him from doing because he's apparently pretty good.

I told him that if it could be redesigned and or protected so that someone couldn't change formulas (or hack it easily) and hose it up he could/should consider marketing it for some retirement income, etc.

Is this possible, other than just using password protection, etc?

It seems to me I had a guy build a complicated series of interactive spreadsheets years ago whereby my planners could only input certain types of data into specific fields, etc... and they couldn't mess with the core program. Am I remembering correctly that this is possible to do using Excel? :dunno:

srhoades
08-23-2011, 09:49
Well, there are lots of "estimator" programs out there. I suppose if he partnered with a programmer they could convert the spreadsheet to a database and GUI on top of it. Selling just a spreadsheet just doesn't come across as professional.

Obi Wan
08-23-2011, 10:46
Well, there are lots of "estimator" programs out there. I suppose if he partnered with a programmer they could convert the spreadsheet to a database and GUI on top of it. Selling just a spreadsheet just doesn't come across as professional.
True, that makes more sense.

I have no details as to why he's developed this instead of using a commercially available program other than he got tired of the programs not having what he needed to do his job right.

I'll have to talk to him.

Thanks.

Ogreon
08-23-2011, 21:49
In addition, I don't know how one could make an Excel spreadsheet that was encrypted from the prying eyes of the user but still usable by the program.

Can he copyright his work? I would imagine so. Enforcing the copyright can be difficult and expensive. If he converts it to a program rather than a spreadsheet, he can use various types of copy protection to slow down the average user. But if his work has any value at all, somebody WILL copy it.

Detectorist
08-23-2011, 21:57
As an employee, that spreadsheet may not be his to give away. It could be the intellectual property of his company. Just sayin'.

Obi Wan
08-24-2011, 09:20
As an employee, that spreadsheet may not be his to give away. It could be the intellectual property of his company. Just sayin'.
I'm not positive, but I believe he works as a private contractor and not an employee. If so, that would eliminate this problem. If not, you're correct if the company wanted to enforce it.

havensal
08-24-2011, 10:05
I know it can be done. My former boss had someone write some code that uses Excel as it's backbone. There is a bunch of other stuff going on also, but the interface is through Excel. He even had dongles made up to lock it down. But at $10K a seat it makes him a bunch on money.