I am designing a workflow processing system. I have many (hundreds) of workflows that in many cases are variants of each other and have related characteristics.

In the beginning development stages I need to document these workflows in a way that less-technical personnel can interface with. They break down their usage scenario and document it all in one place, the dev team will go through later and write code to implement their descriptions.

All I need to do is make a giant spreadsheet with each row containing a single workflow specification, with columns such as "Inputs", "Outputs", "Process Description", and "Implementation Status."

The Process Description field will contain several paragraphs and ordered lists describing the potentially intricate process and any nuances/gotchyas in human readable form.

Typing all of this information into an Excel spreadsheet is tedious and people keep hitting Enter instead of Shift+Enter. Reading it requires expanding the row or column dimensions, which makes scrolling through to quickly check the status intractable. Keeping the dimensions small makes entering data hard. Cutting and pasting blocks of text to break apart and reorganize the descriptions is...you guessed it, beyond unintuitive.

Has anyone come up with a solution with a good UI that can store information like this? And has a collapse-all/expand-all toggle?

Maybe I should roll-my-own database-backed web app...Is anyone interested in working with me to develop this as a product?

Of less importance but still kind of pretty important, is the relationships. For example Workflow 302 might use the same inputs and outputs as 303, and the process description needs only a few, very critical, words to be changed.

I feel like MS Access would be along the lines of what I'm looking for to potentially support data relationships; however once again being able to type a few nicely formatted paragraphs or a page of text within one cell needs to be a painless process.

Thank you for any suggestions!

  • I am having trouble picturing this. What is your concrete problem? If you are asking if anyone as ever build a UI that meets exactly your special needs, then the answer is most likely no. – Nash Apr 2 at 22:28
  • @Nash so basically what I need is the functionality in MS Excel or Access - mainly the storage of text values in cells - with the caveat that there is a lot of (formatted) text inside a cell. Managers need to scroll through lots of rows of the data to check if there is text in the cells; individual contributors need to access and modify that long block of text frequently. I have come across this need several times in the past, I like to think others have as well, and I am hoping someone has built a solution. – cppProgrammer Apr 6 at 17:19
  • @Nash The only real problem with Excel is that editing huge blocks of text inside a single cell is cumbersome, unintuitive, and prone to error. – cppProgrammer Apr 6 at 17:23

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