Thursday, November 6, 2008

Software for Tough Times

As a long time FMS customer, I found Luke Chung's article to be right to the point about software development:
"Every organization faces a wide range of application development
challenges. Some require enterprise level solutions, while others are best
handled by front-line information workers.

The more information workers can take care of their own needs, the more
value application developers can provide to the problems beyond that. With more
and more power on individual desktops and networks, information workers can
accomplish many tasks themselves. We believe they should do so. Whether it's a
sophisticated Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or Microsoft Access database, end
users can create and modify their own solutions to quickly respond to their

Anyone who has relied on someone else to design a report and experience the
hassles of adjusting columns and getting it "just right" knows the frustrations
of relying on someone else to understand and do what you want. Let's not get in
the way of individual efforts."

Back in school up-front analysis and design was always emphasized as the best practice. Not that this is not important, but real world application development does not hinge on a simple exact formula. As it turns out an iterative approach of Design-Prototype-Present-Repeat is frequently the fastest way to a solid working solution.

Close, on-going contact between the user and developer is also critical. I've seen users develop their own queries from raw tables and thereby come to understand the process and flow of data though the system. Once the data has been identified and successfully extracted, all that was needed to solve the problem was the polish of a good user interface laid on top of wizard-generated reports.

Always important, a slowing economy just serves to emphasize this type of development efficiency.