Beta Testing Lessons Learned

We’re wrapping a beta testing here at officeAutomata, and I wanted to share some of the things we encountered and the lessons learned.

New Features added by request of Beta Users

  • Copy cells: Copy Cells <cell> through <cell>
  • Switch sheets via sheet index : Switch to Sheet Index <number>
  • Macro popup for saving, viewing all macros, chaining macros together or adding/removing events from macros
  • vLookup columns by letter instead of number
  • Close Excel, workbook and save functions separated
  • Cortana will wait to finish a command if you are editing the worksheet

Major Issues Encountered

  • The default installer for Excel Add-in’s was not compatible with installing Cortana’s interface, so a custom installer had to be developed and is now being used.
  • The voice recognition system through Cortana also had trouble being used in an Excel Add-in and extra error handling had to be encoded.

Minor Fixes:

  • Real-time vocabulary additions to Cortana for naming macros repaired
  • Minor fixes to some functions to include rows and columns
  • Macros as voice only commands had some trouble, so a pop-up box was added to show users what was being saved or about to be done
  • Switching sheets doesn’t work if Cortana didn’t have the sheet name in her database or vocabulary, so it was changed to switch by sheet index instead
  • Undo was improved to make changes more seamless to the user
  • Clarified some functions output

Lessons Learned

  • More thorough in-house testing on other production systems was required and could have spared ¼ of the issues encountered
  • Google groups worked well as a beta test center, kept everyone informed and was an easy place to post and view replies. A dedicated slack channel was unnecessary.               

Overall, because of the efforts of the beta testers, officeAutomata is nearly ready for launch. I appreciate the efforts of everyone who participated and contributed.