Friday, July 6, 2007
There Must Be A Better Way
You're a professional out in the wide world who one day discovered their set of Excel spreadsheets was getting out of hand. You were curious about this item on your start menu, Microsoft Access, and decided to see what it was all about. Once you got past the deceptive key icon, which hints that Access is some sort of security application, you started to see potential to take that spreadsheet with ten tabs and thousands of rows into something a little more useful for you and your office mates. A few months later, and a few hours of self-learning under your belt, and you've got a fairly slick database that saves you time and money. Now you're wondering....what else could I do to make it better...should we migrate to SQL server...how can I make it easier to change forms...how do I handle multiple users...do I turn this over to our development group...do I buy off the shelf software...and so on.
I'm you, well, not exactly. But I can say I've been there myself, faced many of the same decision paths, asked many of the same questions, and found it incredibly fulfilling to easily create my own applications with an interface that is just the way it should be for my business. I started out trying to reduce an awful, ugly 28 step manual process of taking machine data, putting it into Excel, changing it, and then dumping it back into a machine readable format or pretty fax report. Interestingly enough, that ugly manual process was used to manage about 20% of all 9-1-1 emergency address records on the Eastern seaboard until 2000. So when they hired me fresh out of college, I sat through the training on this nasty little error-prone process and thought....there must be a better way.