Hopefully this question isn't too application-specific; I'm thinking about it with regard to Excel, but I think it applies to any file-based database that includes embedded code.

I'm working on an application that removes certain worksheets and code modules from an Excel workbook before it is distributed to a group of end users, so that they will not have access to that data and functionality in the final workbook (for various reasons, it's not enough to simply password-protect the VBA and make the sheets very hidden). What is the typical term for doing this with a file? I've thought about "sanitize" and "redact", but neither of those seem to really get at the intent of the activity, which is basically to produce a simplified version of a database by removing data and functionality irrelevant to the user's role.

  • 1
    It may help if you clarify the "various reasons" you are doing this. The context and intention behind it may make a difference in the best terminology. – Southpaw Hare Aug 9 '17 at 18:04
  • 1
    @SouthpawHare, the main reason for not password-protecting the VBA is that some of the modules expose subroutines that are able to be run from the Macro window because they're public Subs in those modules, and we'd like to eliminate any possibility of these subroutines being executed. Basically we're trying to "idiot-proof" the book, and eliminate data that might otherwise complicate the UX of working with the database. – sigil Aug 9 '17 at 18:15
  • "personalizing", "customizing" – Samuel Aug 9 '17 at 23:03

Sanitization is a process of removal of malicious or sensitive data. It is often applied to user input but has wide enough semantics for your purpose.

| improve this answer | |

I would call this foolproofing or making it foolproof.

In a comment above, you described the process as making it "idiot-proof". This sounds like a very accurate description of what you're doing, though I assume that the issue with this is the implied negative connotations - you don't want to call your users idiots.

The term foolproof means roughly the same thing, but has less such connotations - people rarely mean or interpret it to mean that you are actually calling the user a fool, but rather that you are merely making it difficult to fail with while using.

This term is not specific to your task, nor to technology in general, though I suspect that there is no more specific of a term. A general term will help keep your terminology itself foolproof, in a nice meta-sort-of-way.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.