You're doing it wrong!

Mon 01 December 2008 by Peter Ward

And I apologise for the correct spelling and grammar of the title.

On his blog, Brian Jones points out (amongst other things) that you shouldn't use Excel (or any other spreadsheet product) as a replacement for a real database.

But this isn't all that is wrong in the world:

  • Don't use one single big table in Word - using Excel or another spreadsheet program.
  • Don't use absolute positioning in Word - just get some real Desktop Publishing Software!
  • Don't use Access for website databases. Here's one which I have done, and the reason why it's a bad idea is because it means reading a file (often a big file) from the filesystem, typically every page request. It's also near impossible to use it reliably on a platform other than Windows.
  • Don't use any presentation software, especially Powerpoint, unless you know how to give an interesting talk without it. (I might talk about presentation software and presentations on this blog in the future - stay tuned!)
  • FrontPage is still considered by some as a real HTML editor. Don't use it! It was bad when I first used it, and it hasn't changed. I still write HTML by hand, and when I need a graphical HTML editor, my preference is WYMeditor.

There's certainly other failures in this area, and we could spend all day talking about failures of software, but I think we've all got better things to do, don't we?

Oh, and this isn't all Microsoft's fault. I'm just using their product names as they happen to be the most common nowadays. These faults are just as easily replicated with Free Open Source Software.


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