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Windward’s Select Statement Wizards and the 95% Rule

Posted on 11/19/2015

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The topic of Windward’s select statement wizards has come up a couple of different ways recently (both internally and externally), so it’s a good time to reiterate our company’s goal with these.

The purpose of the wizards is to be able to create 100% of the XML and SQL select statements that 95% of our users need, while keeping the process as simple as possible.

In other words, the wizards will be able to handle nearly all of the XML and SQL select statements you need to write in order to access your data.

What the Wizards Can’t Handle

SQL Wizard

The Windward SQL wizard

But the key to this is knowing that for a very small portion of our customers, you will have an occasional select that you cannot create with the wizard and will have to create by hand instead.

And we take that approach because in order to cover that last 5%, the wizard would have to be significantly more complex.

It wouldn’t be adding one more feature; it would be adding five or ten. And that complexity then would make the wizard at a minimum scary and at worst far too complex for an unacceptable number of users.

The good news is that experts can write any select statement by hand and that process will work. The rest of AutoTag and the engine both do fine with it. So not being able to create a particular select statement may be a limitation of the wizard, but it is not a limitation of the Windward system as a whole.

Where the Wizards Will Go Next

Finally, this does beg one question:  What must be in the wizards to meet our goal of 100% for 95%? That’s something we’re always asking ourselves and will keep asking ourselves.

In general, if we’re asked for a feature by one person a year, then it’s probably in that 5% of what we don’t need to add. Instead, we’ll put that time and energy and knowledge into making the rest of our reporting and docgen tools as awesome as possible. And if the need falls into the other 95%, then we’ll work like heck to make it happen.

Got any questions or thoughts? Please let me know in the comments below. Thanks.

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Author: David Thielen

Dave, Windward's founder and CEO, is passionate about building superb software teams from scratch and dramatically improving the productivity of existing software teams. He's really proud that he once created a game so compelling (Enemy Nations) that a now-professional World of Warcraft player lost his job for playing it incessantly on company time. You can read more from Dave on his personal blog, and at Huffington Post.

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