You probably have had one of those days when you go to the garage to fetch a screwdriver, but the light is burned out. So you head to the kitchen for a new bulb, but they’re all gone. So you drive to the store to pick up more, but while you are there, you accidentally lock the keys inside your vehicle. You try to pry the door open with a credit card, but what you really need is a screwdriver.
Anyhow, it has felt that way with the tables in our new accounting software. They are a major part of the interface, showing rows and columns of info much like a spreadsheet.
Back in December, breakdown tables were just starting to display in a cute pop-out drawer on the side. It filled in the correct columns, but needed an overhaul to the layouts before proceeding further. Before doing that, it made sense to get all of the mode-switching to work for everything, not just layouts. That led to still further rabbit holes.
After 7 weeks of digressions, we are now back in the garage (metaphorically speaking) to fetch a screwdriver for Goldenseal Pro.
Since tables are present in all 6 basic modes, it makes sense to do them all at the same time. Print and report tables are easiest. They are now filling in data, and looking pretty good. We’re currently working on the small tables found in lists, and some accounts. Then we’ll futz with layouts, then finish off the breakdown tables found in estimates, material purchases, and other business transactions. Last and most difficult are the ‘action’ tables in Reconcile, Pay Bills and similar commands. The current app has an entirely different way to create them. Getting it to be more similar to the other tables has always been on the to-do list. That will happen soon. It will make setup easier for us, and will allow users to modify them (slightly).
In an attempt to get a completion estimate for Goldenseal Pro, we looked at the draw schedules in the programming contracts from a couple years ago. Unfortunately, those were based on which menu commands worked. The actual project is proceeding more ‘horizontally’ than ‘vertically’. The current work on tables is spread out in 3 different project phases. It’s a lot like the difference between a ‘room by room’ estimate, and an estimate based on categories of work. They both get to the same place, but it’s hard to compare them.
About half the work we have done so far has been on major improvements to the basic interface. Those don’t show on the draw schedules at all.
The original plan was to start with a duplicate of the existing app (because easier to spec it that way for subcontractors). Once we had a working version, we would have made improvements in later updates. However, now that our staff is programming the whole project, it’s far more efficient to design and build a better interface, right from the beginning. Doing it that way is slower to get to the first release, but faster to get to a really good version.