Research Project Title:
Wildcard: Spreadsheet-Driven Customization of Web Applications
abstract:Many Web applications do not meet the precise needs of their users. Browser extensions offer a way to customize web applications, but most people do not have the programming skills to implement their own extensions.
In 2012, the travel site Airbnb removed the ability to sort accommodation searches by price. Users could still filter by price range, but could no longer view the cheapest listings first. Many users complained that the change seemed hostile to users. Alas, the feature remains missing to this day.
In this project, we present spreadsheet-driven customization, a technique that enables end users to customize software without doing any traditional programming. The idea is to augment an application’s UI with a spreadsheet that is synchronized with the application’s data. When the user manipulates the spreadsheet, the underlying data is modified and the changes are propagated to the UI, and vice versa.
Using the Wildcard spreadsheet, a user can sort the Airbnb listings by price, while leaving the page’s design and the rest of its functionality unchanged.
"I am excited to participate in SuperUROP where I will be coached in a challenging, independent research project focused on developing an easier and more intuitive way for everyday users to manipulate data on websites. I hope to apply previous coursework in software design and implementation and grow as a researcher through receiving mentorship and feedback from my supervisors and peers."