Thursday, May 15, 2008

The developers of this program should be punished by being forced to use it frequently

Microsoft's SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio is something you may never have heard of. Consider yourself lucky if that is the case. The stupidly long name is just the first in a series of entirely avoidable errors. Pretend you need to make a report - basically a table - and it combines three related tables. Simple, right? Just join the tables together and select whatever columns you want. Now add a wrinkle - the user gets to filter these results. If they only want rows related to a certain area, that is what they get. Here are the very stupid things about Visual Studio that makes it the worst environment to do this in.
  1. SQL formatting options in this thing are utter trash. Have fun writing your queries when there is no color coding and no tab delimiting. Even better: whatever formatting you paste in is also going to be ruined. Intellisense, that super awesome thing that autocompletes common code and is one of the main draws of Visual Studio for other applications? Gone.
  2. The visual tools are similarly crap. The whole drag-and-drop type of scripting is stupid on principle and apparently MS is trying to prove that point by making really bad tools to do it. Try adding a parameter into a WHERE clause in their "handy" little designer under Filter. Even if you perfectly type one that already exists, it will make a new one (throwing a 1 at the end to differentiate it).
  3. Options, Preferences, Report Properties, Report Parameters, Customize, Settings, etc. Your UI team should be flogged for this kind of thing. The vast majority of these could be condensed into a single dialog with multiple tabs. Having 987,345 places to look to find some kind of preference or option makes users silently pray for your death. You can find this in a lot of Windows Apps and it is why people smarter than me are also telling you (more politely) to reexamine your UI decisions.

No comments: