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cst commonsense

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Why have so many standard software applications hardly changed in their ability to do anything clever for the user over the last 25 years?

As a competent implementer and user of many different software packages for business use I have found very little change in their core ability to really help the user with even 'simple' tasks.
Most administration tasks such as accounting, word-processing, spreadsheets, project management, personnel systems etc. are simply input / output programmes. The interfaces and view has changed, but the core programming is still very basic - you enter some details and the programme re-arranges it for some output.

How often have you sat at your computer doing mindless tasks like copy and paste from one section to another, often over and over in a long document. Now, you could write a 'macro' to do this (or even turn on the recorder function - which NEVER works), but what you really want is for the program to say 'hey, I see what you're doing, shall I finish it for you?'
Or another example would be to select email-merge and then expect the programme to select the data, organise it, ask for the main text, add in the sensible fields for the merge from the data, show the result for amendment and then email it when ok'd.

Yet another example would be an accounting system finding supplier invoices from an email system, matching them to the purchase ledger, check their correctness, flag up any repeats from historical data, entering the new ones found, flag up any expected and not received (from historical data), email those selected for querying and creating simple traffic light / exception reports against targets and history.

I know that these look simple, but in reality require very complex programming.

However, since this is one of the major tasks (ie business administration generally) that humans spend so much time on and represent maybe up to a third of all jobs, in 25 years I would have expected at least some innovation. Why has there been so very little?

JP

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    Dec 4 2012: ... 'hey, I see what you're doing, shall I finish it for you?'

    No, not more of this, please! If you ever tried to write the short form of Megapascal - MPa - with auto-correction settings: ON, you may know what I mean. So if 'they' can't even get the recorder function working, what are your expectations on what those new functions 'see' and 'do'?

    Same with 'help functions'. Did you ever get any clear answer on what you were looking for? So even on this vital issue 'they' see nothing... :o)

    The best by far are nagging, self-acting paper-clip animations. Nerv busting. Mind numbing. Wouldn't we just expect the obvious by typing: Get lost ? So how do we even search a faulty help function without not knowing the name of that plague? Paper-clip? Talking thingy? Customer disdain?, etc...

    Personally I do not wish for any smart office software, but I agree with you that user convenience in general did not improve much since we use the mouse on our computer.