Archive for the ‘development’ Category

Drum roll please…

Friday, 2nd June, 2017

To avoid polluting this place with loads of off topic nonsense and to try and preserve it as a mainly spreadsheet development resource I have created a new blog.

Its mainly about my new life as an Android developer, so if you are interested in that topic or just find my writing A-fookin-mazing, or you are that stalker that nicks my underpants off the washing line, be sure to follow me over there… on.. wait for it.. in a moment of blinding originality… MURF ON MOBILE. :-)

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10 year birthday

Sunday, 12th February, 2017

I missed it obviously but one of the kids pointed out I have been blogging here for 10 years! ken ell!

(as of January just gone)

I can’t imagine dragging it out for another 10, unless some spreadsheet miracle happens and I am sucked back in. I still think spreadsheets are brilliant at a great many things, I have just given up waiting for numb nuts management to realise.

I built a random mental maths test generator for the kids the other day. I looked at doing it as an app, as a web thing,  but in the end I did it in a spreadsheet in about 10 minutes. The kids hate it!

I love it!

(it even has a bit of VBA in it – woo hoo)

cheers

simon

Google sheets

Monday, 19th December, 2016

We have been using Google sheets a fair bit recently as our spreadsheet of choice. The kids can use their phones for data gathering in the field (eg how many keepy uppyies they do) and then we can fire up the tomputers and do some proper data analysis on it. Again using Google sheets.

This has worked well for trivial stuff but the other day I decided to combine Maths, IT and spreadsheets and it didn’t end well.

In maths we have been doing equations, in IT, programming – so name a couple of variables x and y, create a scary looking equation, loop through a load of numbers and print out x and y, copy and paste into Google sheets and draw a nice chart. Well that’s what happened on the macbook, on the Android tablet the Google sheets app appears so completely hobbled that it does not offer the choice to parse a string into multiple columns. And I could find no way to use the more powerful browser version.

I wouldn’t claim to have done an exhaustive search but initial indications are that the app versions of google apps offer only a fraction of the features of the browser versions (bit weird if you ask me – but hey, I’m old school). And you can’t seem to keep the browser version on android devices. As soon as you click anywhere you are launched into Google drive and its game over, shit versions only. As far as I can tell??

If anyone has a solution to this I would be very interested. I would like to use the more powerful browser versions of google apps on an android tablet please.

ps the Excel app has the same limitation as far as I can tell.

Or if you have a suggestions for a better spreadsheet for Android I’m all ears…

cheers

simon

Excel Conference in Amsterdam

Tuesday, 5th January, 2016

I just saw this (on linkedin of all places – I only go there twice a year).

Dunno much about it, except its being run by a gang of well known Excel experts so should be very excellent.

I won’t be going as Excel is basically dead to me these days.

If you are going, have fun.

cheers

simon

 

 

Linux

Tuesday, 23rd September, 2014

I’m doing my first proper commercial Linux project at the moment.

Might need to resurrect my Eclipse and dust off my Java skillz.

cool…

GPH

Tuesday, 14th January, 2014

Googles per hour.

My new proposal for estimating developer toolset proficiency.

In Excel/VBA mine is pretty close to nack all these days, I spend more time on codematic trying to unforget stuff I once knew. C# is a bit higher as I always like to check if things have changed since the last time I opened VS.

In my more recent dabbling tools (Eclispe and xcode) I have a google window open all the time, and use it all the time too.

so

Excel/VBA 0.1 gph (roughly 1 a day)

C# 0.5 gph (1 every couple of hours)

xcode 10 gph (the rountrip time it take to find, copy a line and change the variables to the ones I am using). It might reach even higher if I start getting better search hits.

what about you?

cheers

simon

Excel Dev Book

Thursday, 19th December, 2013

I keep wondering about writing a book about Excel development.

It would be less technical than PED, perhaps a bit more like Code Complete for Excel. A bit more design based than code based. The target audience would be business folks wanting to improve their Excel clicking and IT folks needing to target Excel. It would be set in the context of the reality of working with Excel in big companies.

I did discuss it with a publisher a while ago, but at this stage I would probably do it as a self publish e-book, with maybe a print option.

It would be based on my couple of weeks Excel experience (cataloguing my CD collection), and would touch many complementary technologies like ADO, ExcelDNA, XLL+.

I’m thinking more of a 300 page wordy tome rather than a 1000 page screenshot fest.

The sort of chapters might be something like

  • strengths and weaknesses of Excel
  • The RAD process with Excel as the client
  • Excel dev models (workbook with VBA, Add-in etc)
  • Excel grid best practices
  • Excel facts and fallacies

The only thing stopping me is the apparent death of Excel as a serious business tool. I’d hate to invest all that effort and then find my mum is the only person willing to buy it. (Well, her and as an excellent stocking filler for my kids at Christmas (not this one of course!)).

There is no doubt in my mind that sensible use of Excel is good in every way for most organisations. Sadly its the bad use that is most common and gets all the bad press. One aim of the book would be to propose some of the smart ways of using Excel (including using some of the newer features).

So my question is:

If there were such a book do you think there would be a market for it? Do you know people who would buy it?

(I know, that’s two questions)

cheers

simon

Silverlight

Monday, 16th December, 2013

Some poor Fin Servs company in Zürich has been searching for a Silverlight developer for weeks now. 

That’s some ex-devs’ CV polishing hobby horse turning to bite them on the arse. The dev has probably moved on and is now doing this weeks flavour of the month tech (MVVM?), leaving the client dependent on this dead tech that no one wants to touch.

That said, I chucked my CV in for a VB6 job today, first one I have seen in a long time ( a decade???). Also a tech no self respecting modern .net clicker would want to touch… I still would though, at least VB6 had a point, more than can be said for SilverShight.

I’m still waiting for VSTO to go the same way, but at this stage I am beginning to wonder if MS are genuinely committed to it. I doubted it for a long time, but its there in VS2013, and they don’t have many other options, apart from the obvious helping to extend and improve ExcelDNA. Or buying Add-in Express. (jobserve still doesn’t recognise VSTO and changes it to VSTS, that’s better than Vista which it used to do).

Any of you seeing much client demand for VSTO?

cheers

simon

 

 

 

Responsibility

Monday, 9th December, 2013

“The post holder is responsible for explaining to the business how the software solution meets the business needs.”

Erm… Call me old fashioned but shouldn’t it be patently obvious to the customer how the software solves their pain?

This just stinks of requirement Rc.03 is completely met by feature F027…

Which is just another way of IT hitting the users over the head about changed or ambiguous requirements.

‘Here is the email (from 9 months ago) where you asked IT to include a date field, and here is the label that contains todays date. Done, requirement complete, tested correct, finished, this label here meets your need.’

‘What do you mean you want to edit the date? why? Your business process is wrong, You should have told us’… etc etc

Rapidly followed by

‘You asked for a date field, we provided one, if you want that to be editable that is an enhancement and is chargeable, and we can’t look at it for at least 3 months.’

That’s not the kind of role I am currently looking for. Thanks

Although maybe I shouldn’t be so picky, its pretty quiet out at the moment. Maybe I should stop emailing my CV and use the Elfmail instead. I’ll put a copy up the chimney tonight and see what happens. Seems to have worked for the kids.

cheers

simon

 

Some of that Excel development

Friday, 6th December, 2013

At one place I worked, the IT department were, you might say, not massively responsive to user needs.

User needs being rapid response (hours or days, rather than months or years) systems development.

The RAD team I was in was a battleground, Users wanting us to rush stuff into production as soon as it compiled, IT wanting us to stop development and start documenting from scratch on new improved word templates. (The improvement being a more consistent theme and styling rather than anything of business value.)

Then  a funny thing happened – the users stopped calling us.

They had been recruiting assistants with strong Excel VBA dev skills and were bypassing the whole IT rigmarole.

This is where I think a fair chunk of Excel dev work has gone – under the radar, out of IT control, and off the IT job boards.

And when I say strong skills I mean on a business scale rather than a developer scale. ie crap naming, global variables, no design, no testing, lots of macro recorder pap, etc etc.

Overall, I doubt this move will have a positive impact on long term delivery ability, or quality (compared to decent RAD input – you can’t compare to mainstream IT as they wouldn’t have delivered anything, so sure, they would have less production defects).

Anyone else seen this rise of the super user?

cheers

simon