scim: Bringing spreadsheets back to the present

After last week’s rash of gold-star software, I was afraid I’d get through this week without seeing anything worth gilding.


Uh-oh. That’s got potential.🙂

Andrés M. left a note a few days ago about scim, and shuf brought it up this morning. scim builds on the ancient sc spreadsheet calculator, and adds a lot — I mean a lot — of things that the old spreadsheet either didn’t approach or just weren’t conventions at the time it was built.

For example, scim can undo.😯 And now … a pause for effect.

If I said “Hallelujah” to that, I wouldn’t be overreacting. I’ve been working with sc for years and never found a proper undo command. In fact, I’ve learned to work with sc in such a fashion that I can backtrack through mistakes or errors without an undo feature. (It takes a lot of cutting and pasting, basically.)

So that feature is reason enough to embrace scim — without even looking at things like hiding rows and columns, sorting data, a redo feature (or undo your undo), date formatting, key remapping, command multiplying, autorecalculation (or, to be more specific, the option to turn off autorecalculation), regex search-and-replace and a whole lot more.

And it’s got color!:mrgreen:

scim takes its cue from The Vim Way of Doing Things, meaning a command mode and an edit mode, with commands usually taking a colon as a prefix. Get to the help pages, for example, with :help. One-key commands are simple mnemonics.

Perhaps best of all — or perhaps more important of all — is scim’s ability to import and export to other formats, and still preserve its compatibility with the spreadsheet of the 80s. In the past if I wanted to move from sc’s exported format to something more conventional, like a Google spreadsheet, there was a hefty amount of text editing and search-and-replacing needed. Hopefully not now.

scim seems to take up all the slack and build up all the features that were missing from its progenitor, and fill in the gaps between 1988 and 2015. I don’t see this in AUR or Debian, but it’s hard to tell with all the references to the old scim input platform in both distros.

In fact, I daresay that might be the only weak point for scim: It’s going to get lost with that name.

No matter; I’d prefer to think that the people who really want a text-only spreadsheet — a very good text-only spreadsheet, in fact — will find it in the mix.

So here we are, with a well-deserved gold star, not just for fulfilling all the points I generally look for in a top-notch text-only application, but for bringing console-based spreadsheets back to the present:⭐ Enjoy!😀

3 thoughts on “scim: Bringing spreadsheets back to the present

  1. Pingback: Bonus: 2015 in review … and a farewell | Inconsolation

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