Design nightmares with a simple task – a tale of PBWiki, Spreadsheets, Googles, Gadgets, Mashups and other “tools”

I love my graduate applicants group. I love my PB-Wiki page as well (and unlike the Subaru guy, most of my loving ends there). I have been planning to start an ambitious project that would help archive our group’s messages to provide future prospective students with resources that they could benefit from.

As a result, I simply wanted a spreadsheet on the wiki site itself, that would motivate me and possibly future volunteers to our wiki site. And there launched an afternoon of adventure in the land of Internet Gobbledygook of mashables, Google Gadgets, Google Docs, Google s*it (yes, they want to be in that too), numsum, dim-sum, and everything in between.

There is almost no simplicity associated with any of these online spreadsheet tools that are heavy on promise and poor on performance. It is one thing to come close to even comprehending what they are saying. It is quite something else to actually apply this on to your website. Among other things that can go wrong:

1. You will never find any documentation and will totally fail on some tools.

2. You will never get some tools to work.

3. You will get some tools but with 10 cells in your spreadsheet and woebegone if you try to increase the size.

The Solution: Two scores and hundred minutes later (alright I exaggerate, but so do politicians), I figured on a very simple, elegant solution from the loser of the day, the 29% lower revenue guy, the 9% decrease in stock price guy, the ingrate of the NASDAQ, and overall champion of evil – Microsoft.

I copied over my group’s database table from Yahoo! Groups, “special pasted” it in Excel 2007 and pasted it back to my Wiki page and lo and behold, I now have a working table! PBWiki knows it’s a table cause of all the kind html that Excel donates, and my life is now back to its elegant simplicity.

My Design Lesson – I will always remember to K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid!

References:

1. For general irritation and inutility – Google Gadgets and their designers. Google the link yourself! :p

2. For my pbwiki page: http://gre-success.pbworks.com/Group-message-archive-conversion-plan

3. For my group page for no better reason than to send you there: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gre-success/

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