I was just working on a project, and a lot of time was spent working out a large workflow to get part of the system working. Weeks were put on the project plan to build an eleborate workflow system that made breakfast for you.
We then came in and said “Wouldn’t it be simpler if you gave me your Excel spreadsheet in a format like this and we imported it?”
Er, we get Excel, said the nice business folks. A day later and we were at the races.
It wasn’t sexy, but one thing I think we can learn from other software worlds is to not reinvent the wheel, and letting business users interface to your system via Excel is actually not always such a bad thing. It may not be the most elegant solution, but the users really know how to use Excel, and you should have see them sign in relief as they thought about opening up Excel and working in there, versus learning some weird web based system that we would throw at them.
December 21st, 2005 at 7:52 pm
I have been using Excel with jython and POI recently to do testing of a data warehouse system and it has worked very well.
The tests are defined in Excel. I then parse the excel file (using jython and POI) to produce jython test case methods (making use of the python unit-testing framework). I can then manually tweak the test cases if required, but the vast majority are ready to execute directly from the Excel data.
Using excel rather than some XML format or other interface is much better. Excel is defintely the fastest data entry interface that I have used and everyone feels comfortable with it. By getting business users to define the business rules in an agreed format, I have a very good test suite built for very little effort.