Clint Covington: Software design, Microsoft Office Access

News, trends, and commentary about everything from software design (i.e. innovation, nailing scenarios, elegance), and my personal technology passion -- Microsoft Office Access.

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  • Blog Post: Good writing tips for developers forced to write marketing content

    There is a good article on A List Apart about how to generate interest and describe the business value for software. What I like most is the use of examples. A lot of web copy is written by copywriters who aren’t trained in writing for the web—and much of the rest is written by people who aren...
  • Blog Post: The spiral of complexity and feature creep - New Yorker article

    James Surowiecki has written a nice article Feature Presentation about why companies build complexity into their products and more importantly to you--why you buy into it. People want all the bells and whistles but overestimate their ability to use all the features. The challenge is to make complex things...
  • Blog Post: Driving good profits through design and customer feedback

    Culture of Design In the last three years, I have seen Microsoft’s design culture shift to tackle hairy design challenges that are rooted in legacy tradition. Business Week recently acknowledged the positive changes at Microsoft in the article, The Soul of a New Microsoft . For Microsoft Office, Jensen...
  • Blog Post: Design inspiration resources

    The folks at web design from scratch have recently posted a list of their 10 favorite web site designs . The sites make up good sources of inspiration. I particularly like the IconBuffet . For about $300 you can get a great set of icons that will make your application stand out. Another source to...
  • Blog Post: Toyota business lessons about humility, elegant solutions, and simplicity

    I came across a couple of good articles about Toyota improving its designs and innovation process. Business Week, for example, recently published " Fighting to Stay Humble ". "To be satisfied with becoming the top runner, and to become arrogant, is the path we must be most fearful of," That...
  • Blog Post: Open and respectful cultures create better designs

    It’s not uncommon in the halls of Microsoft for a passionate Program Manager and brilliant Developer engage in verbal combat over design ideas. Anyone that has worked with talented people on a tough design problem knows that innovative design is hard—really hard. It takes passion, commitment, and willingness...
  • Blog Post: The Craft of Design and Jonathan Ive

    A couple months ago Business Week published an article about a talk "The Craft of Design" given by Jonathan Ive at the Radical Draft conference. http://www.chicagotribune.com/technology/chi-0701300508jan31,0,4213554.story I found this paragraph about team size and passion spot on. "He spoke...
  • Blog Post: Good Experience blog post "Innovation and customer experience basics"

    I'm a frequent reader of the Good Experience blog. These guys do a great job making me think about focusing on the simple things that customers really appreciate. A good experience is so much more than flashy UI--it is about knowing how your customer uses your product and nailing the most important aspects...
  • Blog Post: Principles of MicroFormats and simplicity

    I have been reading a bit about MicroFormats these days. I came across these principles that were published on http://microformats.org/about . I like the clarity of the principles and the underlying statement about keeping them simple. Most of us could benefit from a dose of simplicity in our designs...
  • Blog Post: 7 Rules for Productive Brainstorming

    Yesterday I was kicking around campus, dropping off fliers about my wife’s resume service on bulletin boards. My 3-year-old loves to go to work with Dad and drink chocolate milk, write on the whiteboards, and play chase through the halls. Anyway, she starts drawing on a whiteboard in a conference room...
  • Blog Post: Interactive chart/form filtering code sample

    One of the most enjoyable design challenges I have had over the last couple of years was redesigning how users can filter inside Access and Excel. The new filter dropdown menu and context menus were lots of fun to explore different designs and think creatively about how users interact with data. I wanted...
  • Blog Post: Softer datasheet visuals in 3 simple steps

    Yesterday I was looking at one of our templates and noticed the grid felt pretty busy. I wanted to come up with a design that softens the harshness of the gridlines yet was very readable. Here is what I ended up with... There are three easy steps to create this view (you can't do this in Access...
  • Blog Post: My favorite software book of the year "Get Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application"

    For some time I have been a fan of the work done by 37Signals. They have a great understanding of the value of building simple software that people fiind useful. They recently self published Get Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application . This book is the best book I...
  • Blog Post: MSDN article "Ribbon Extensibility in Access 2007"

    A couple of months ago I spent a few days learning how to write XML for ribbons. I got pretty excited about the types of new interfaces that users can create without any code. I think you will find it is easier than you might think. This paper is the end product of a blog post I was going to write. It...
  • Blog Post: Thoughts on Zune

    First off, I want to say that I'm a big IPod fan--listening to my second player right now. I even have a copy of the original ipod packaging in my office because I though Apple did such a nice job with it. I'm not ready to buy a new Zune yet but I do think the Zune folks have done a great job getting...
  • Blog Post: Ideas about creating great looking reports

    Lately I have been thinking a bit about report design and how to make reports look great without writing lots of line drawing code. Being a sports fan I have always thought sports sites do a good job making great looking reports. Personally, I couldn’t be happier about the Utah Jazz and their 12-1 start...
  • Blog Post: Visual design of Web 2.0 sites and Access applications

    I recently came across a blog post about common design elements for web 2.0 sites. http://f6design.com/journal/2006/10/21/the-visual-design-of-web-20/ There are some things we in the Access world could learn to make our apps look and feel a bit more modern. Here are some concepts that Jonathan...
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