By doing the demanding intellectual work first and then forcing the tools to succumb to need to produce seemingly speedy deliverables, you can get around the difficulty of choosing between 'Good, Fast and Cheap.' Here's one approach using Excel and Visio.
One of my earlier careers was in manufacturing management, and it grounded me in the principles of project planning and management. When I moved into technical communication, I brought my project management disciplines with me, and I embraced the prevailing tools of my new profession. I dutifully produced documentation plans in Microsoft Word and supported them with detailed project plans in Microsoft Project. However, the problem is that—like bad relationships—these artifacts never gave back results that were sufficient to reward the effort I put into creating them.
Whether you have balance sheets, account information downloads, tax calculations, or pay slips, they all tend to come in Microsoft Excel. Non-IT professionals feel comfortable using Microsoft Excel as a data exchange technology. The Jakarta POI (Poor Obfuscation Implementation) API is a fantastic way for Java programmers to access Microsoft document formats. The most mature API from Jakarta POI is the HSSF (Horrible Spreadsheet Format) API, which accesses Microsoft Excel documents.
Early in the project, the program manager decided to use Microsoft Excel as the tool of choice for gathering and managing the requirements, each module would have their own set of requirements. It sounded like a good choice to the program manager, since everyone has Excel on their machine and it would be easy to share files amongst all interested parties. I’m sure that sounded good at the time, but it has certainly been a pain for me.
The Apache Jakarta POI project consists of Java APIs dedicated to the manipulation of files based on Microsoft's OLE 2 Compound Document format. In this article, you'll learn how to use the APIs of the POI project to read from and write to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. As you will see, the programmatic liberty to manipulate Excel files represents a powerful offering to the Java programmer.The Apache POI contains a number of components. In this article, we'll be focusing our study on the HSSF component. The HSSF project will provide us with the ability to read and write from XLS spreadsheets.
Most people use Microsoft Excel to analyse the results of usability tests, but did you know you can use it to collect the data too? This spreadsheet allows you to measure task completion rates, analyse questionnaire data, and summarise participant comments. It even includes a timer so you can measure time-on-task.
For many usability engineers and human factors researchers, basic note-taking on a paper form or laptop computer represents the common data collection strategy. Unfortunately, this approach can be cumbersome and slow to compile the data following the completion of a study.