Unlike models in a spreadsheet, Javelin models are built on objects called variables, not on data in cells of a report. For example, a time series, or any variable, is an object in itself, not a collection of cells which happen to appear in a row or column. Variables have many attributes, including complete awareness of their connections to all other variables, data references, and text and image notes. Calculations are performed on these objects, as opposed to a range of cells, so adding two time series automatically aligns them in calendar time, or in a user-defined time frame.
Data are independent of worksheets—variables, and therefore data, cannot be destroyed by deleting a row, column or entire worksheet. For instance, January's costs are subtracted from January's revenues, regardless of where or whether either appears in a worksheet. This permits actions later used in pivot tables, except that flexible manipulation of report tables is but one of many capabilities supported by variables. Moreover, if costs are entered by week and revenues by month, Javelin can allocate or interpolate as appropriate. This object design enabled variables and whole models to reference each other with user-defined variable names, and to perform multidimensional analysis and massive, but easily editable consolidations.
Javelin encourages viewing data and algorithms in various self-documenting ways, including simultaneous multiple synchronized views. For example, users can move through the connections between variables on a diagram while seeing the logical roots and branches of each variable. This is an example of what is perhaps its primary contribution—the concept of traceability of a user's logic or model structure through its twelve views. Among its dynamically linked views were: diagram, formulas, table, chart, QuickGraph, worksheet, notes, errors, macro, graph. A complex model can be dissected and understood by others who had no role in its creation, and this remains unique even today. Javelin was used primarily for financial modeling, but was also used to build instructional models in college chemistry courses, to model the world's economies, and by the military in the early Star Wars project. It is still in use by institutions for which model integrity is mission critical.
Javelin received multiple awards, including: "Best of 1985" for technical excellence from PC Magazine; "Most Significant Product" from PC Week; and "Software Product of the Year". 'The Infoworld award apparently created some consternation in the top ranks of number two Microsoft:'