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Question for the day...

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by Obi Wan, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. Obi Wan

    Obi Wan

    Oct 13, 2007
    'Round the bend...
    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:
  2. srhoades


    Jul 14, 2000
    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.

  3. Obi Wan

    Obi Wan

    Oct 13, 2007
    'Round the bend...
    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.

  4. Ogreon

    Ogreon unlisted

    Oct 3, 2006
    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.
  5. Detectorist


    Jul 16, 2008
    As an employee, that spreadsheet may not be his to give away. It could be the intellectual property of his company. Just sayin'.
  6. Obi Wan

    Obi Wan

    Oct 13, 2007
    'Round the bend...
    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.
  7. havensal

    havensal Nozzle Jockey CLM

    Aug 14, 2003
    Western, NY
    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.