Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

Strange... Excel talks to everything, couldn't they use ODBC, or at least NSLOOKUP from an imported report? Rarely a reason to manually re-enter, even with Excel.

> Rarely a reason to manually re-enter, even with Excel.

I wish it was so. People using excel can get very — ahem — creative, of which I've encountered many a spreadsheet designed by some minion of hell, including (but not limited to):

- a GIS implemented with cells, one cell per bitmap image block, and excel vector drawing features, with atrocious macros doing things

- an insurance broker contract and customer database, whose records were separated by fuzzy formatting (like cell border colors and width), full of varying labels (typos and inconsistencies), and without specific cell placement for data, notably would-be primary keys.

Every single one of them should be locked down in a digital safe, guarded night and day, only to serve as last-stand honeypot tactical weaponry on sufficiently smart cyberwar adversaries, who, once spoiled by the guarding words of "Abandon all sanity, ye who enter here", would quickly have their mind cower in fear back into reptilian neurologic territory[0]. The Snow Crash noise was probably one of those file's raw data.

[0]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Funniest_Joke_in_the_World

I wish I could upvote this more times.

Except the people managing these spreadsheets where not programmers and had probably never heard of ODBC. People outside the process generally suggest a rewrite over trying to maintain Excel spreadsheets which is generally a bad idea.

1. Accounting people were non-programmers, so they probably didn't know what ODBC was/is.

2. Rewriting them found errors in the Excel spreadsheets in some cases.

3. They weren't a Microsoft shop, so most/all of the experience was with an Open Source stack.

4. Most of the functionality was implemented as a series of views in the database, with a layer of reports on top of it.

5. It was easier to just pull them into our existing system as additional reports, and just have an option to export the report to Excel (which was already baked in functionality).

You would need to add a new user account for the database from the dba who is in another department. Something like that would require communicating with your manager who, as retric says, is non technical and probably won't buy in.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact