The idea for The Open Auction came from a non-profit group called the Regional Residential Services Society (RRSS). This is a community based service for adults with intellectual disabilities. They host an annual auction to raise money for the residents. The group and its volunteers are incredibly hard working, and always managed to throw a great auction, but as a programmer, I couldn't help thinking that the process could use some help.
After discussing the scenario with my business partner, Cliff, we decided to build a tool that would make it easier for them to plan for and host the annual auction. The first question we had to answer is what platform to use. There were several criteria: it had to be dead simple, it must not be dependent on internet access or a server network, and the data had to be easily shared amongst the staff and volunteers.
Based on these criteria, we started to consider client based options. Our first thought was to create an Access DB application, but were concerned that not very many people would have Access already installed. We had recently done some work customizing Excel to generate financial reports that integrated with TM1 server, so started to consider what it would take to build the application as a pure excel spreadsheet.
After some prototyping, we felt confident that we could create forms to manage the data that would be presented to the user in the familiar excel spreadsheet format. All data manipulation would be carried out by VB code which would persist the data in a series of hidden worksheets. We feel the result is a powerful applications that is lightweight, easy to use, portable, and has minimal technical prerequisites. We hope you enjoy it!
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