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I'm looking for something that can be used for structured data entry. Must be straightforward for non-technical and semi-technical users. Must have some degree of programmability/integrability for sending the data to a backend database or service.

Is Excel/VBA still state of the art?

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closed as not constructive by Canadian Luke, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Nifle, terdon, Paul Feb 17 '13 at 23:16

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What about Access? And why doesn't Excel work for you? –  slhck Feb 11 '13 at 7:39
    
I support slhck suggestion. We don't know exactly what you're looking for. But with Access you'll need, i guess 1-2 Programmer/Developer. They'll make you some forms where to put the data in (with validation if you like) and some other forms for reading the data from the DB. –  derty Feb 11 '13 at 7:42
    
Excel does work but the question is about what equivalents exist so that I can understand what's out there. Ideally saving those 1-2 programmers if there's something with better out-of-the-box functionality. –  jl6 Feb 11 '13 at 7:53

3 Answers 3

You can use a data inputed form in Excel, so VBA would not be necessary. First you had to add the form button to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). Then the easiest way to create a form is to enter first a sample of the data: one row with column heads and one or more rows with data. Select one of the datacells and press the form button on the QAT.

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Thanks for the suggestion, i corrected my first answer. –  Ben Welman Feb 17 '13 at 15:18

Google Forms that feed data back to a google spreadsheet is excellent for quick and dirty collection and structuring of information from many contributors.

We use them at the University for surveys as they only takes 10 minutes to set up. Quick explanation here...youtube

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Excel/VBA IMHO is the best option available, but its not the only option

The first direct alternative to Excel is Libre Office. Its a Spreadsheet applications and supports VBA type scripting though the scripting engine is not compatible with Excel.

Another option is to use a scripting language like Python. Python has a huge library support and one of the popular library as an alternative to excel functionality is Pandas. You can also export the data as an excel spreadsheet though libraries like xlwt and read excel spreadsheet with xlrd.

And finally there are web based spreadsheet applications like Google Docs and Zoho Office which supports scripting to a limited extent.

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User asks: "sending the data to a backend database or service." Excel would waste the users time as he has to gather the data, when google forms would do it for him. –  BHM Feb 13 '13 at 17:39
    
Excel, Libreoffice ... are all rubbish as the user has to spend time gathering the data. Let Google forms do the dirty work for him instead. Setting up a django website and collecting data that way would be structured, but probably overkill –  BHM Feb 13 '13 at 17:41

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