Lion Taming For Beginners

1 Sep

What results in a successful piece of software? Is it the power of the software itself? Is it the range of features it has? Or is is the interface design that allows a user to access those powerful features?

Its a bit of everything really but that would make for a very short and dull post and you’d feel like you wasted your time if I finished with that so let me explain.

I’ve just started a new role working for a software development company. Their flagship product is an immensely powerful data management tool – and ‘tool’ is an understatement, it doesn’t _begin_ to do justice to the level of complexity this bad boy has. If you’re an ordinary user you can view and generate reports and charts based on data from either an OLAP or relational (SQLServer in this case) DB. If you’re a Developer then you can design custom forms, reports, get down and dirty with your own SQL and a wide variety of other frighteningly techy things I’m too right brained to get right now. Take it from me, this is one powerful piece of kit.

And its driven through the thinnest of clients – a web browser. When I first saw it working, it blew my ‘cool’ rating up to 11. Its the first time I’ve ever seen anything this powerful working in a standard install web browser.

But as Spidey’s dead Uncle once said: “with great power comes great responsibility.” and thats where this colossus falters just a _little_ bit. Its too easy to get lost in it and its a very steep learning curve to learn how to use it. We know that and this is one of the reasons they took me on – to put an interface on it that is easy to navigate and make it work like the very best web based applications such as “Rojo.com”:http://www.rojo.com – a big powerful beast with an interface that tames it wonderfully.

I suspect I may have a bit of understandable resistance to overcome. There’s a lot of people who invested a lot of time in this product and it’ll take some time to convince them that I also want whats best for it. I’m hoping I can find a way to let them see the potential of this without treading on anyones toes.

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One Response to “Lion Taming For Beginners”

  1. John Oxton September 1, 2005 at 18:09 #

    A client/colleague once said to me (and read in to that what you shoud — if you get what I mean), approach it with a scalpel not a chainsaw.

    I took away from that the feeling that yes, there is work to be done, yes it’s not perfect but yes we have users to consider and we have to keep it running in the meanwhile. I came away from that feeling really positive, at least I know we are all in the same ball park. That’s the most important bit I think, having people around you who respect and trust what you want to get done.

    Good luck to you, sounds like a great job! 🙂

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