In this video, you are presented with the basic issues with documenting how front-ends are hooked up to back-ends, and different techniques that can be used to approach keeping track of this knowledge.
- [Monica] Welcome to chapter three, where we will start with some front-end curation basics. As you may remember from the introduction, I highlighted two main issues presented by front ends that force you into the situation where you want to curate them. First, there are the relationship problems, meaning, we have a front end and a back end but we don't know exactly how they are hooked together. We are not sure where the data we are putting in the front end is landing in the back end. The second main issue with front ends that makes you want to do some curation to solve it is change management, or changing what fields you have in your database or what controls you have on your web forms, or anything that is going to disrupt that relationship. Sometimes you can remove a field from a form and it seems like nothing happens, but then later, an angry data person yells at you because the data from that field stopped being collected, or you can create a new field in your database but no one can enter anything into it because it's not hooked up to the front end. I'm sorry to get into the weeds here, but these are serious relationship problems, as you can see, and they can really impact your system. So, I'm going to show you some conceptual approaches for dealing with those two main issues with front ends, relationship problems and change management, but on the way to that, I just want to point out that there are these techniques, or skills, you use whenever documenting front ends for whatever reason. I'm going to highlight these general techniques here. The idea is to get good at these techniques and then put them together in various ways to develop your front-end curation. First, screen shots are your friend, so you want to get good at taking screen shots. I know on Windows, you need to be careful which window you are screenshotting, and on Macs, there are different ways to do the screen shot, and sometimes you may not know where it is getting saved. You need to iron all that out and get good at taking screen shots. You know why? So, you can do this: paste them onto a PowerPoint slide. So, the next thing after screen shots that are your friend is that PowerPoint is your friend. A very good friend, I shall add. Not only can you do a lot of great curation in PowerPoint, you can easily share PowerPoint presentations with others, and you can also export individual slides as JPEGs that you can put in, for example, a data entry manual. And once you fire up PowerPoint and paste in that screen shot, you will go on to become best friends with textboxes and arrows. I put an example on the slide of how you would use these textboxes and arrows. You use a textbox to explain in plain language what visual thing you want to point out, and you use the arrow to indicate to what you are referring with this visual thing you are pointing out. I know it looks a little childish, but it does get the job of visual communication done. And if you have to write something more complicated, you can move from PowerPoint into Word and start doing some front-end curation there. I made an example of what I mean by curating a front end in Word, and I named it Example Change Management Curation in Word. That's what you see screen-shotted on the slide, and also, I included it in your Exercise Files for this video. The main difference is that, rather than using textboxes and arrows to express the visual information, the Word document is explaining issues and requirements you could not really explain with textboxes and arrows, like the last bullet point, where the team realizes it needs to hire a consultant to review the front end to ensure that colorblind people can use it effectively. So, in this chapter, I'm going to use these various basic techniques, the screen shots, the textboxes and arrows, the things I just showed you, in order to demonstrate a few simple example front-end curation projects a person might be stuck doing at work, like curating a front end that is not documented. What a lot of fun. Kind of like a treasure hunt. I usually get stuck doing that. Or using curation as a way to plan a change to the front end; that's a little more fun because you get to be kind of creative. Oh, and this one's really fun. This is using curation to develop specifications for the design of an online dashboard. So, I guess the tasks get increasingly more fun throughout the chapter, kind of like eating vegetables before dessert, unless you are weird like me and sometimes eat vegetables for dessert. So, this is going to be a really fun chapter, but I do want to start with a serious word of advice. I've noticed a lot of organizations don't do much planning when they make or change their front ends. Remember the saying, measure twice, cut once? That translates to efficiency to managers like me. So, if your front end is important enough to build or to fix or to troubleshoot, or to even use, it is probably important enough to take some time away from the daily work to keep it reasonably documented. Okay, ready for a challenge? Join me in the next video, where I show you how to curate a database front end.
- How curation files function as part of data management
- Back-end curation
- Front-end curation
- Steps for dashboard design
- Designing surveys
- Creating warehouse, analytic, and application flow diagrams
- Text-based curation files