[ExI] standard form for creating a test, was: RE: humanities plus schmooze

Mike Dougherty msd001 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 9 00:11:50 UTC 2012

On Sat, Dec 8, 2012 at 5:55 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> Look at Microsloth Excel for instance.  Compare the user interface in 2010
> with the 2007 version.  The older one was intuitive, logical, well designed.

I agree 100%.  I wonder if you had no prior experience with Excel (or
Lotus!) if the ribbon would be such a travesty to you.  I also spent a
lot of time with Excel (specifically '95)  I hope the ribbon is easier
for new users, because it is still annoying anyone who has used
earlier versions.

> The 2010 version is way more difficult to use, unless you know how to
> customize the toolbars, which most users don't.  They talked us into
> upgrading by a feature of Excel2010 that I desperately needed, a much higher
> data handling capacity.  2007 only had 65k lines and 256 columns.  I
> definitely needed the 1 million data lines Excel2010 offers, but that
> interface comes with a price.

Only because the general purpose usefulness of "rows, columns, sheets,
books" does Excel need anything like a million rows of data in it.
LONG before you hit that limit, you should have moved your content
into a more appropriate tool for the job.  I am an advocate of
googledocs spreadsheet for those things that it does well.  Excel is
still king of pivot tables/analytics, but googledocs is able to move
quickly and it's been a more productive year at Google than at
Microsoft.  Of course, nothing Google does is five nines correct - so

> It isn't just rocket science.  When a major interface redesign comes along,
> big companies have enoooooormous investment in collective expertise of its
> employees in the old system.  Most of that investment is lost in a major
> interface configuration change.

I think Microsoft is making a huge bet on Windows 8.  It's ironic that
when Apple does arbitrarily weird stuff with UI they are innovating
technology but when Microsoft does it they are risking total
alienation of their user base.  I think the leap to touch-based
interface is a worthwhile endeavor, but one that will involve pain.
Home users will get it.  Business will hate the fact that all new
hardware is pricier than non-touch.  Business will really hate the
re-education of the new UI.  Considering windows XP is still so
strong, Windows 8 will be competing with its ancestors to gain

> This would make a huge market for a software tool that probably exists
> somewhere: a routine that takes Excel 2010 and makes the interface look
> identical to the 2007 interface, but with more rows and columns of data
> available.  I love those, still don't like the 2010 interface three years
> later.  I never disliked any of the previous version changes.

I wonder why we (the public) accept radical change to UI.  Computers
are supposed to do our bidding.  Instead we (the developers) write
miserable code that is hard enough to debug in one use-case let alone
skinned millions of ways... so we force a limited set of tested
interfaces onto the public and make THEM adapt.  Seems though we can
make humans adapt to software much more readily than we can make
software adapt to humans. (wish it weren't so)

> I have learned from my previous go-around with the test template software
> question: if I can think of *anything* that would be cool to have, someone
> somewhere has done it a long time ago and has done an excellent job.  Good
> chance it is available free online somewhere.

That's a good point.  There is also the danger.  For all the
Internet's explosive exponential growth, if people stop building it
and simply hook together the old parts in various ways... eventually
there won't be anything new.  Maybe the exponential growth metaphor is
wrong, it's not a smooth curve but a series of novel pops followed by
small ripples of adjustment.

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