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Programming Visual Basic 2008 by Tim Patrick

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The Needs of the Users

Back in the old days of computers, there were no users. Who needed users? The only ones manly enough to approach the hallowed inner sanctum of the computing systems were the programmers. Only they touched the vacuum tubes, connected the cables, toggled the front panels, and fondled the punch cards that provided access to the heart of the machine. These programmers were tough, and their programs, tougher. "We don't need no stinking users" was their mantra.

Then came the 1980s, with its Greatest American Hero-inspired attitude and its personal "personal" computers. Now there were users everywhere. They were like the Blob, only with fewer computing skills. But they were the masters because most programs were written for them. Programmers rarely used the programs they wrote; they were simply the interface between the user and the heart of the computer. Programmers provided the element of control needed by both the computer and the users. In fact, that is a programmer's job: to provide highly controlled access to the computer and the data it contains.

Users have a lot of needs, most of which can't be met by a computer. But for those that can, the needs come in five parts: data and information, process, usability, commonality, and project-specific needs. The design process involves an examination of these needs and the subsequent massaging of those needs into a software product. By examining the current data and procedures, conducting user interviews, and performing ...

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