Export vs Save - UI Suggestion
The User’s Manual stresses the centrality of the Export file in PRC’s design architecture for several very important reasons. Perhaps the most beneficial reason is the separation of our personal model data from the software itself. This supports our data being backed up externally for safekeeping and archival. It allows us to create an unlimited number of models, with each model (Export file) composed of three discrete scenarios for easy contrast/comparison directly in PRC. And it makes software updates a breeze since the data and the software are separate. All of these excellent benefits of Export files, and more, are well-articulated in the Manual.
Yet… PRC has those two rather 1994ish-looking 😉 “SAVEAS” and “SAVE” icons parked right up there on the permanent menu at top-left, the prime beachfront spot of real estate in any application. The real star of the show - Update Export File - is relegated to a hyperlink, on a submenu, in the middle of the page.
I am following the recommended workflow of utilizing the Export approach almost exclusively. But, as a not infrequent (computer) crash victim, I reflexively do a Ctrl+s every few minutes to save my work whenever I am using Excel. I can certainly continue doing this with PRC. However, 1) it’s not the preferred workflow, 2) it takes noticeably longer, and 3) I experienced two calamitous Excel save crashes when I was starting out with PRC and lost most of my (pre-Export) input. (I think the Save crashes might have been due to my having two other complicated Excel worksheets open simultaneously. 🤓) So I find myself flipping back to the Home tab over and over and over and over again to click that Update Export File hyperlink. It’s a first-world problem if ever there was one, but I wonder if some consideration might be given to flipping the current prominence given to SAVEAS/SAVE with Import/Export? Or at least make it a configurable option so that the user’s preferred approach can be better supported by the user interface?
Thank you for the opportunity to make this suggestion. If I never see this implemented in future releases it will be of no great import (pun intended). But, for me, it sure would reduce the friction of using PRC.
P.S. It just occurred to me that if a keyboard shortcut for Update Export File - analogous to Excel’s native Ctrl+s for Save - could be integrated into PRC that would also solve my “problem”. I suspect it would be difficult, though, to hit upon a keyboard combination that is not already in use by Excel or the Windows/Mac operating system.
Hi David, and thanks for the detailed analysis and suggestion of the various save issues. Yeah, I much dislike those saveas and save icons, too. They're up there because of the numerous issues I've experienced in trying to speed up the process of saving the PRC file. There are some complexities involved that I won't go into here that relate to the details of Excel (these would be non-issues in totally custom software but are big issues when trying to work with a commercial product over which I have zero control). So, without exerting some control (in the macros behind those icons) over Excel's save process, a save could take minutes in some cases. With that said, maybe there could be a better implementation than to put those icons up there in the prime real estate where they're currently located and I'll give that some thought. I'm happy to hear that you've read and understand my message about exports and I think you've made a good suggestion to allow them to be invoked from any page and not just the Home page. Too, you're right about finding a shortcut that's not already been taken by Microsoft and/or Apple.
Just a couple of other notes that may or may not be useful:
1) You can also do a Ctrl+j to do a save. It's functionally the same as doing a Ctrl+s but invokes some PRC code to avoid some Excel overhead.
2) I regularly run multiple PRC files simultaneously with no issues; however, I also occasionally encounter save issues when doing a save on non-PRC Excel files. This is a quirk of Excel in that it definitely causes some strange and extremely time-consuming calculations within the PRC file when doing a save of the non-PRC file. Though I've spent lots of time trying to figure this out, I've been generally unsuccessful to date. That's going to be one of the big issues I go after this Fall in developing the 2022 model.
@smatthews51 Mr. Matthews, thank you for the near-immediate and thoughtful response! Having been a software developer in another life, I have complete and total sympathy for you in trying to execute your application's objectives while working within the confines and limitations of Excel. In my experience perhaps 75% of development time was spent fighting idiosyncrasies of the technical development platform, with the remaining 25% devoted to coding the actual application functionality. I think we all appreciate that you have to make any solution work not only across multiple Mac versions of Excel but also across multiple Windows versions as well. And Excel functions themselves can operate differently across versions! My sympathies indeed.
I couldn't ask for any more than the Import/Export options being available from any page and appreciate your considering it in the future.
Lastly, I just wanted to acknowledge that I did read in the User's Manual about using the SAVE/SAVEAS buttons (and therefore your underlying macros to optimize save of the PRC file) and am not using Excel’s native Ctrl+s option with PRC. I was very unclear about that in my earlier post. While I do execute a gazillion Ctrl+s saves when using other worksheets, I actually was using your custom SAVE button when I experienced the couple of Excel save crashes I referenced (when I had those couple of other non-PRC workbooks open concurrently). I also wanted to mention that those particular non-PRC workbooks have caused me problems when they are open with even some of my own workbooks. So that was not necessarily a PRC problem, though it sounds like you may have experienced something similar yourself.
Thanks again for your incredible attentiveness in supporting your product and your customers.