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RE: COMP: Software Wish List

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I have a couple of takes on this issue:
In the olden days, programs like Risa had their database in text format. I
thought, when they compiled the database, that it was to protect their
efforts to create the extensive work required for an AISC database. I then
found, on an AutoCad site, an AISC list of sections in text format. I found
it very easy to convert a text list with spaces as delimiters to any
database format I wanted - so the reason was not to protect their efforts.
It occured to me that they were protecting their software from intrusion by
the use. I learned rather quickly when I produced and marketed a softare -
Equake - that some of the users would modify the formulas (it was
spreadsheet) and macros in order to try and make a program that they felt
was more user friendly. In the process they made mistakes that they quickly
blamed to me and the original program.
I discovered that the reason software developers use proprietary data and
coding is to prevent the user from making changes to the software which
might produce inacurate results.

Programs like Softdesk products don't really provide a complete database to
begin with and rely upon the user to build his own data (unfortunately,
Softdesk provides very little documentation to tell the user how to find the
proper files let alone modify them).

Windows allows output to be manipulated, however, if I were a software
developer I would be wary of having my printed output able to be changed. It
would seem too easy for the output to be manipulated so that the results are
either misinterpreted or inportant information omitted.
>From the users position, the ability to work with the physical attibutes to
the output is important in order to create some sort of uniformity between
various different packages. Possibly the answer comes with defining and
establishing an output standard like an RFT (rich text format) since it can
embed formating better than an ASCII file. Better yet is to adopt an html
format which can preserve the softwares graphical output. HTML allows the
user to create uniformity that can be viewed with conventional browsers.

Please see my next post regarding my "Wish" list on software price points.

Dennis Wish PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Allen, S.E. [mailto:Bill(--nospam--at)AllenDesigns.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 1998 9:36 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: COMP: Software Wish List


I guess one of my issues with software is that of the output. Some vendors
do it better than others (few do it great) and I would love to have the
capability of customizing the output.

My question to software vendors is:
Would it be too difficult to use Office Automation for output such that the
output is created in Word Pad which everyone but Roger Turk has? The
software could ship with a template and the user, if he/she so chooses, can
customize the template to their liking? Of course MS Word would be better,
but versioning would be a pain. Crystal Reports would be cool, too. This
way, I could make the headers and footers for all of my output look the
same, change the fonts, you know, fiddle with it.

Another way would be to provide the output in .txt format (or, an optional
export to .txt format). Maybe the software vendor could charge extra for an
import template in MS Word, Wordperfect, etc.

Thoughts from vendors would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Bill Allen