Tables and Spreadsheets

In the beginning there was the unsorted set, then the List and, when many lists become unmanegeable, the Table appeared. Made of intersecting lists conforming either rows or columns, they are used as boards, guides, matrixes and files. Let see an example:

Calendar Rune

Calendar Rune

Making a big jump in time, we can find one of the first electronic versions of tables: the spreadsheet application:

Multiplan for DOS

Multiplan for DOS

Notice that numbered column titles instead of the now common letter based style.

As data and information management growth and as computers provided more powerful and flexible tools, there was a new paradigm: The Cube (AKA: Hyper-Cube or OLAP Cube). Although still represented on a two-dimensional surface, the general idea is to represent a third dimension, time, and also show the information in a more efficient an useful way by grouping/nesting, sorting, filtering and “drilling” up/down on the same visual interface.

OLAP Cube

OLAP Cube from ContourComponents

Today, these tables/spreadsheets/cubes are not just presenting data, but also providing navigation, formatting, validation and simulation capabilities, all in integration with other visual and processing paradigms. Nice evolution.