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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Axis of Evil... 

...Software. We've been stuck with some really awful software requirements, and as the person in my department who seems to look most like an IT type, I've been stuck dealing with them.

Number one is Microsoft Project. This program does painfully little that I couldn't do in Excel, and is infinitely more difficult to use. Everything is automated, making it impossible to do anything useful: it may be a good tool for planning an office move or a system implementation, but not for a major, multi-faceted management and service project.

Number two is Lotus Quickplace. For those fortunate enough not to have ever heard of this monstrosity, it is a web portal tool. The interface is mostly text, without any of the advantages of a text interface. It is bloody difficult to navigate, uploading and downloading are tedious, multi-step processes, and customization is very limited.

Finally, we have Ultimate Survey. A forms-based web survey application, this would have been a great tool for the questionnaires I developed and sent around for 200-level psychology classes. However, it has so many features lacking I can't even begin to describe them. For instance, it will only export files as .csv, but will not let you block respondents from using commas in their answers. So, you get totally garbled data, with all kinds of extra columns and errors. Even better though is the fact that the program's "handlers" don't work properly from remote access: so you can't actually develop your web-based survey, you know, on the web.

How can we defeat this Axis of Evil? Simple: make programmers directly answerable to people who actually have to use the bloody software. Aack!

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