Felienne Hermans on Functional Excel and Graphical Languages

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Felienne Hermans spent some time blowing my mind on some of the underlying functional concepts exposed in Excel. Essentially she describes Excel as a graphical language and goes through some functional concepts and how they are surfaced in spreadsheets. It then led to a larger discussion on the notion of graphical languages. It was one of the more interesting things I got to learn about at NDC London!








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    The Discussion

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       The Power Query add-in for Excel  (Get & Transform Data in Excel 2016) is an example of visual programming for the domain of transforming and shaping data. I'm a programmer (VBA, Java, Ruby, Clojure) and haven't used any custom code (other than custom functions in Power Query) to munge data for 3 years! Really. There is no data transform that can't be done since the interface in Power Query is a real functional programming language.

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