Note: This blog post is based on the backand.com. I accidently landed on this site a few days ago and after browsing a bit around, I found this very interesting. I encourage all of you to feel the same as what I experienced. Just like me you can also connect your database and automatically generate a fully customized back-office interface in no time.
How many times do you think hard working coders ask themselves:
“Why am I doing the same generic data-entry UI again?”
The Same Old Story in LOOP
During my time as an IT Developer I’ve faced my fair share of ‘the new guy’ from marketing requesting an information system for his campaign. Sounds like the beginnings of a bad joke: You know – The one about two rookies, one from IT and the other from marketing on a plane? Unbeknownst to him however, new information systems always require top management approval. Of course these requests are always sweetened with the usual ‘Can you please let only me read and update the table? I’m the only one using it.”
We all know that isn’t altogether true. Different Processes need to run after each update, requiring separate notifications to the relevant people instantly. Responding to his request depended of course on scale. Small Campaigns almost never got a satisfactory solution. Large campaigns took a lengthy but necessary route: We researched requirements, ran the analysis, presented a system design and assessed total efforts. Only after obtaining management approval and maneuvering through organizational Bureaucracy could we develop the solution- hoping of course that by the time we finished the campaign wasn’t already over.
Ironic when you consider how the solutions were always similar: Grids for main tables, dropdowns, checklists and sub-grids for table relationships, filters and a sprinkling of content pages. Office politics aside, this solution requires effort and effort requires payment. Management’s role is to allocate proper resources for all endeavors, so developer services generally require longer processes of approval.
Let us not re-invent the wheel
Here’s the real question we should be asking: What if it didn’t require all this effort?
I probably know what you’re thinking. “Here’s yet another service pretending to replace me with an instant solution. Even if it does work, they always take forever when I’ve got special needs. I’d rather just do the work myself”
I totally get that. Nobody knows how to design a better database scheme than you. I’ve got a few questions for you though: How about the UI and more importantly the same UI over and over again? Do adding columns and moving them from one side of the grid to the other really require compiling, testing and redeploying the entire system every time?
Doesn’t it make sense that the person who requested the system know what works better for them grid and column wise? Why shouldn’t he be able to do it?
For those special needs only you know how to develop, why not simply add them as aniframe to the system or implement automated grids as iframe giving you both automation and complete freedom. So as long as the marketing guy doesn’t touch the database, granting admin capabilities to him will make both you and him happy. Changing the Schema however will require you. A few clicks and the system will be synced to the latest changes, presenting the administrator with the new columns, entities and relations they have changed.
Decision to Make – My Way or High Way
The way I see it you have two choices. One is to follow the old route of letting the new guy learns the hard way about organizational structure and the time it takes for IT to provide a complete, fantastic service. The other way is to give him what he wants almost instantly, while you remain in full control (with the added benefit of him being able to meaningfully contribute to how the system looks and feels).
You might actually find the results of choosing the second option surprisingly refreshing, especially when you consider the time saved on data validations, tracking changing when and by who, the charts, filters and so on. Consider also the fresh design input from the people who use the database schema for their campaign. Automation isn’t an instant solution but rather an inclusive one, streamlining and improving all departments.
My way – backand treatment!
Besides, you have no idea where that new person from marketing might end up in a few years. Next time you meet they could be a high level Manager or CEO. Better to kickstart the relationship off on a good note, cementing you firmly on their good side. The backand.com treatment will serve you both extremely well.
Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)