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UI design question

I just finished fixing a medium sized VB6 app for internal use. This company never had anybody that had programming experience, consequently the software I have inherited is quite a nightmare to maintain.

I didn't have any say in how this app would be design, and the other developer left before it was finished. I haven't worked much with UIs, but even I can tell that this one is quite terrible. I'm looking for screenshots of similar applications.

The company is in manufacturing and this app is specifically for WIP (Work in Progress) and/or ETC (Estimated Time to Completion). It currently has a bunch of grids and a 5 year view. I've been tasked to create a new version and to shorten the load times.

I've already done some google searches, but haven't found anything that is even close. My main staple has been databases and framework classes. Has anybody here seen screenshots of something that might work in this case?

Thanks in advance!

Hector
Tuesday, June 17, 2003

This sounds like Microsoft Project (do a Google Image search for it and you'll get a few screenshots).

How is your application *not* like MS Project?

Brent P. Newhall
Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Thanks! I don't know why I didn't think of that before. Not having eaten lunch might have something to do with  that.

"How is your application *not* like MS Project?"

The business processes around here are all exceptions to execptions, so there's nothing standard. My predecessors have tried using several shrinkwrap stuff, to no avail. I think it leans more towards accounting type stuff than project management.

The head honchos want to see Labor (dollars and hours), materials, overheads, and their totals all in one screen. *shudder*

I'm a complete MS Project neophite, but now I see if I can get a copy from corporate to tinker with.

Hector
Tuesday, June 17, 2003

It sounds like MS Project would fit these needs exactly.

For what it's worth, if corporate can't justify the expense of a full copy, you can buy an $8 demo (a full copy of MS Project, Standard Version) that expires after 60 days; see this URL:

http://www.microsoft.com/office/project/evaluation/trial.asp

Brent P. Newhall
Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Check out http://www.qad.com/ for some information. You'll have to dig around for the screen shots, but there are many of them.

QAD makes a product called MFGPro that is designed to do exactly what you are talking about. In fact, you should really look at it as a package as well. It can be customized for you specific business and works extremely well.

(I do not, nor have I ever, worked for QAD. I only know the product)

Marc LaFleur
Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Not seen QAD. Does project allow you to track individual specific instances of a widget?

You'll need this for WIP tracking. Also possibly need BOR/BOM explosions for costings and critical path analyses.

The 4/5 years I spent doing this stuff predate MS Project, so my memory is a bit hazy.

Justin
Wednesday, June 18, 2003

I'd be *very* careful about modifying the UI significantly. Even if *you* think it stinks, users may think it's OK and are already very familiar with it.

anon
Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Quad looks like what I would want the company to use. We don't have anything that does BOM, at least not that I've seen. There's a couple other suites like Factory Edge and Lilly Manufacturing Software that does what we want, but we are not getting any type of approval for purchases.

"In fact, you should really look at it as a package as well. It can be customized for you specific business and works extremely well."

That's the whole problem! The Comptroller has shot down all of our pleas to upgrade our software packages. So we are stuck using a DOS package from the 80s. It's ridicoulous! This thing has only 4 characters for accounts. One department in the company spits out over 500 work orders a month.

I just finished building a Sales Work Order workflow app, that we could have bought off the shelf for less money than what it took me to write it. The sad thing is that this place pays much better than anybody in the whole state, at least 40% more. I'm stuck here until something comes along with at least the same pay and better working conditions.

"I'd be *very* careful about modifying the UI significantly. Even if *you* think it stinks, users may think it's OK and are already very familiar with it."

Yes, I know. It took me 4 months just to get this monster working. The previous developer was not able to get it to work at all. The thing is loading at least 5 years worth of data. It is taking too long to load and people are complaining about it. I had warned management about this issue, but they ignored me and just wanted the app to work. I've been keeping all of the emails for major CYA. I've been able to deflect just about any stupid accusations this way. I just whip out the docs and show them that this is what they asked for.

Anyways, I'm done ranting. ;)

Hector
Wednesday, June 18, 2003

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