The alternatives of spreadsheet

List of alternatives

Microsoft 365

Google Workspace


  • Difficulty to use: 2/5
  • Pricing plan starts at USD 10/month/user, with a generously unlimited free tier for individual use.
  • Publishing: share article only
  • Thoughts: I currently use as a database, great gratis alternative of Airtable


  • Difficulty to use: 1/5
  • Pricing plan, starting at USD 10/month per user. It has an unlimited free tier for individual use.
  • Publishing: share directly using Notion public link, or 3rd-party service provider


  • Difficulty to use: 1/5
  • Pricing: limited free tier. Their pricing starts at USD 12/month per Doc Maker (have the ability to create new docs)
    Thoughts: it has an advantage with the embedded inline formula in Coda


  • Pricing plan starts at USD 12/month
  • Limited free tier:
    • unlimited base
    • 1200 records per base
    • 2 GB of attachment storage per base
    • Share View feature
  • Thoughts: small database use case


  • Pricing plan starts at USD 59/month, with limited free tier
  • Thoughts:
    • similar to retool which is used to build internal tools
    • read here to know how a client use Rows in their workflow
    • They are really onto something, especially in how to work get structured data out of other systems into a spreadsheet and then work with that kind of data in the "spreadsheet way" that we've all been trained in. This is a pain point of current spreadsheets and one that Rows is addressing in a really nice way (ref: Hacker News)
    • 2022-02-07 evaluation: this app is limited in feature vs google sheets. can not customize charts, doesn't have yet function like FILTER. Though it has workaround with their Range2JSON function. They have some custom function using Alpha Vantage API, as an alternative of GOOOGLEFINANCE function. After juggling in 2h, I gave up. Switch back to google sheets for publish data on my blog



  • Pricing plan starts at USD 50/month, with good free tier.
  • Thoughts:
    • better tools to build models and scenarios, compared to Excel
    • publish beautiful, interactive report


  • Pricing starts at USD 350/month
  • alternative of Causal
  • focus in financial reporting and modeling

  • Pricing plan starts at USD 11/month/creator, free for editor/commenter/viewer
  • Limited free tier, similar to Airtable:
    • unlimited workbook
    • 2000 rows per workbook
    • 3 GB of attachment storage per workbook
  • Thoughts:
    • Rows that link together across worksheets, even across different workbooks, like tables in a relational database. Learn more here
    • Row hierarchies with parent-child relationships for things like project plans, task lists and org structures
    • New ways to work with worksheet data that go beyond the traditional grid of cells, such as Kanban views for managing workflows and responsibilities, Gantt view as interactive timeline to manage a project’s schedule and create task dependencies
    • identical spreadsheet GUI as Excel and Google Sheets
    • has similar formula functions with identical syntax to Excel and Google Sheets


  • Pricing plan starts at USD 9/month/user, min 3 users. 30-day free trial only.


Grist is an alternative that aim to dethrone Airtable, and claim to be better than a spreadsheet.

  • Pricing plan starts at USD 8/month. With limited free tier for individuals
  • Grist also has as a free version to self-host, which is called Grist Core


  • Pricing starts at USD 5/month. With limited free tier
  • Thoughts: database, alternative of Airtable



  • database, open source alternative of Airtable


  • [Pricing] starts at USD 5/month. Has free self hosted version
  • database, open source alternative of Airtable


  • Pricing starts at EUR 7/month
  • Limited Free tier
    • 10k rows
    • 2 GB storage
    • Share View feature is in paid plan only
  • database, open source alternative of Airtable


  • database, open source alternative of Airtable
  • might be a copycat of Nocodb
  • it's from Alibaba or one of their teams 1


  • modern spreadsheet built on an endless canvas
  • similar use case as Causal
  • Currently (2022-04-06) available for invite only


  • Currently (2022-04-06) in private beta only
  • a general-purpose, graphical user interface for relational databases. Spreadsheets re-built atop the RDBMS data model

Google Tables

  • an experimental project in Area 120, Google's internal incubator
  • alternative of Airtable

Amazon Honeycode


  • pricing need to contact sales. 14-day free trial


  • next generation spreadsheet with built in connections to any data warehouse, modern versioning, and collaboration
  • Pricing starts at USD 19/month


  • Pricing plan is currently set to free.
  • Thoughts:
    • alternative of Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 and Notion
    • Bitable is its approach to database inside a document, with two-way links support, similar to Notion or Airtable
    • Wiki is their feature for team knowledge base, as the current offer of Notion and others
    • Lark Flow is the automation tool similar to Zapier and Microsoft Power Automate

The 3 types of spreadsheets


spreadsheet in the world is used for one of three things:

  • Small databases
  • Models
  • Business Processes

Small databases

Spreadsheet software is the first thing a regular user fires up whenever any data needs to be collected: Contact lists, inventory, logging custom things

These files will usually not have so much as a single formula in them, and the content is often text heavy compared to other spreadsheets. These files ontain 2-dimensional data or more complicated data structures

  • multi-dimensional: multiple headers in a table usually add a dimension although obviously still represented in the 2-dimensional grid (a simple intro to multi-dimensional data can be found here)
  • hierarchical: some rows in a table are of a lower level and roll up to higher level rows
  • relational: data on one sheet refers to details on another


These files are usually number-heavy and their defining characteristic is that they have formulas in them. Users are calculating something.

3 sub-categories:

  • Projections: Where a lot of data is generated from a relatively small set of input parameters. A common example would be a financial projection based on a set of assumptions (often 1000s of numbers generated from <20 assumptions).
  • Analysis: Where a small set of data is calculated from a large set of data, often exported some other system. A typical example would be to calculate average customer spend based on age-group on data exported from a retail system. In this case the spreadsheet is competing directly against purpose-built BI systems, and — in many respects — winning.
  • Calculators: This is the most diverse sub-category. Here you’ll find spreadsheets where people are performing some sort of calculations but the balance between the amount of input and output variables is better. An example here might be a mortgage calculator.

Business Processes

These are business processes that are run partially or entirely on spreadsheets.

A simple example might be a workplace lunch-order: Fill in the spreadsheet before 11:30 and the order will go out.

A higher level example might be that every department in the organization has to fill in a spreadsheet template and submit it to HR or Finance before the end of the month. There some poor back-office person aggregates the data into another spreadsheet, enters the results into the payroll system and sends it on to whoever creates the slide-deck for the upcoming board meeting.

And everything between: I’ve seen a spreadsheet that serves as the UI for a large IT company’s billing process. I’ve seen spreadsheets that generate custom portfolio reports for high net-worth individuals in a bank. I’ve seen spreadsheets that are effectively sophisticated CRM-systems.

These spreadsheets are usually accompanied by formalized or not-so-formalized workflows that rely on emailing spreadsheets around, notifying people of changes in a network drive or multiple people working on a spreadsheet stored in the cloud at the same time.

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I’ve theorized that every new process within an organization starts out as a spreadsheet before it is (sometimes) formalized in a purpose-built system. That formalization often comes at a great cost, and surprisingly often leads to a solution that is not only much more reliant on IT for operating and maintaining, but also a lot less flexible than the original spreadsheet creation.


  1. statement of o1lab, Nocodb's developer, in their Discord server˄