This is a sort of follow-on to one of my postings last month. My intent here is to kick off some forum discussions based on today’s posting. The question in short is: We have some great tools for tight integration with Excel that are going to be available very soon, so what else do end-users want or need?
Many years ago there was a product called CrowFlite (from Eversoft Solutions Group, Inc.). Functions called Get() and List() were used in formulas for retrieving data from MV databases, and other features were included for uploading data back to the server. That software is no longer maintained but people really like what it did.
For those of you familiar with NebulaXLite, that software allows Pick developers to create complex and attractive workbooks entirely from BASIC. CrowFlite was on the opposite side – it installed into Excel, and reached into the DBMS to pull out attributes and to execute programs.
Because I have done so much work with Excel and other Office apps over the years, people occasionally ask me about options for replacing CrowFlite. A few years ago I announced NebulaXChange was in development, but for various reasons I had to defer that effort. XChange wasn’t intended to support CrowFlite syntax, just to support similar functionality plus a number of completely unique features.
But I’ve had a number of requests recently for a one-for-one replacement for CrowFlite. So in response I have created a new package which does exactly that. A user should now be able to disable or uninstall CrowFlite, install this new software, and continue using all of the same spreadsheets without interruption. The new software also includes security and other features that were not available in CrowFlite.
Unlike most of the software that I write, this is not a developer tool. It’s an end-user product which can be extended by developers. No programming knowledge is required. It’s meant for end-users who use Excel, not Pick programmers. That said, VARs will be able to enhance this with application-specific hooks, and of course, enterprising individuals are welcome to sell their services to end-users to create stunning new reports that might not have been possible before.
This new software will be entering alpha/beta soon with end-users and I’d like to ensure that it is suitable for others who come along later. In fact, now that this is nearing completion, I’m even more eager to understand what challenges end-users face in using MV data with Excel.
What do end-users ask from their VARs?
What would you expect to see in “killer”, “gotta have it” integration between Excel and MV?
So please share your thoughts about what software like this should do in order for it to be considered worthwhile. A discussion of pricing is welcome as well, but the closer we get to “must do everything for free”, the less inclined I will be to continue a discussion. 😉
Discussions referencing this posting were started today in a couple forums. If you don’t see a public discussion elsewhere, you can post questions here, or in the Nebula R&D forum.
Of course sales inquiries are welcome.
Thanks for your time.