Business-focused custom software

  • Creaky User Interfaces

    This week I started maintaining a web application written by someone else. The code itself isn't bad; it isn't how I would organize it, but that's not particularly surprising.

    But the user interface, and in particular the validation, is pretty old-school. For example, for fields like dollar amounts that should only allow numeric values, you can type whatever characters you like, and then it provides an error after a postback to the server. Another example: when I left a password field blank, I got two errors instead of one - one for the missing password, and one because the password ...

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  • The Little Things Matter

    Occasionally software developers fall into the trap of thinking that the little things aren't important.

    Sometimes the little things are small cosmetic problems with our applications. A misspelled word, some misaligned controls, or some CSS that looks funny in the wrong browser - all of these things can seem like "little things". Unworthy of concern or time.

    The problem is that these little things can detract and distress. Users can't focus on the software they are using when their eyes are drawn to a flaw. If the flaw isn't corrected quickly, it becomes a blight in the software. It demonstrates a lack of ...

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  • How much flexibility do you really need?

    A business requirement I often hear when designing software is that the application must be flexible and easy to change without additional programming. This seems like a sensible idea - we all know that nothing stays the same, and flexibility can make the software continue its usefulness despite changing business conditions, regulations, and standards.

    There are two challenges with this requirement. One challenge is that flexibility is a very vague term. For some users, flexibility means that they can customize the colors or menu text. For others, flexibility means the ability to create custom business rules or reports. And for some people, ...

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  • Why your simple idea isn't

    Business people often describe their software application idea as "simple" or "easy" to build. Have you? Here are some things you may not have considered which can make building your application less "simple":

    • Security. Who needs to have access to this software? Even if your application is publicly available (and many aren't), there may still be certain restrictions for some users which increases complexity.
    • External users. Will your customers see this software? If so, you'll want to make sure there is enough professional polish on it.
    • Platform support. How many different operating systems and/or browsers does this application need to ...

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  • Planning for a scary future

    Every year at Halloween I buy too much trick-or-treat candy. Why? I don't want to disappoint any costumed children that may come to my door. Buying an extra bag or two of candy is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to handle the risky business of stiffing a local cherub.

    Throwing money at a problem isn't usually the best way to mitigate risk. Still, contingency planning is something technologists must embrace. While server experts must plan for issues like hardware failure, software developers must think about how their applications will respond to unanticipated problems. Error handling is one area that needs to be considered in ...

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What the critics are saying...

Avonelle is a rare IT professional who can communicate with business users on a level they can understand, and who can recommend creative technical solutions that are in line with the business goals and the business budget. Avonelle is conscientious not only about meeting deadlines, but also exceeding her customers expectations around quality software while providing superior customer service. Avonelle is an inspiration to me.

Valerie Vogt, Director of IT Advisory Services @ Inetium