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Openbox Beta: Round 1 Retrospective

Openbox Beta User

Round 1 Retrospective

It feels like only last week that we kicked off the beta process, and here we at the end of Round 2. There has been a huge amount of input from our beta users, and we’re incredibly grateful for their time – particularly during the current crisis – in making Openbox more stable and more useful to modellers.

A recurring theme coming out of the feedback is around the use of Openbox for audit purposes. It started life as a model build tool, but people are using it more and more to check models, even ones not built in Openbox, and to make it easier to deal with model changes. We’ll be adding a couple of new features to help with this soon.

Until next time, please keep the feedback coming!

Kenny, Iain and the Openbox team.

Bugs Fixed:

  • Link to Excel was sometimes lost, particularly on Windows 7.
  • Default Units being applied to all line items, not just blank ones.
  • “Make component” now correctly interprets a reference to the cell immediately to the left.
  • Only one Openbox window opens, to avoid conflicts.
  • Crash occurring when “Add new report item” pressed with no report.
  • Don’t show row totals for “%” or “% pa”.

Change requests completed:

  • Comprehensive undo. You should now be able to undo everything, so no more concerns about hitting the wrong button.
  • Linking to PowerBI. Every Excel file that Openbox produces now comes with a final sheet that links to every formula in the model in a flat-file structure. You can upload this to PowerBI.
  • Components can now have units of SMU, which gets replaced with the Standard Model Unit when they are imported.
  • Reports can now include arrays, and be automatically repeated for each element of (say) a list of scenarios.
  • Placeholders in Openbox components can now store values.

Change requests – near term:

  • More prebuilt components.
  • The ability to compare two Openbox models and list all differences/ changes.

Change request – medium term:

  • When adding new report lines, have autocomplete with names of existing line items.

Current development challenges:

  • Antivirus programs still flagging Openbox.
  • Making it easier to update the template Excel model that Openbox uses.

Feedback we are hearing:

  • Onboarding critical. Maybe there could be an Openbox “buddy” for new users, who’d spend a few hours getting them started?
  • Auditing and checking is a big part of the added value of Openbox. Unit checks are helpful.
  • Flexibility in Openbox has a cost. Sometimes it is better not to be flexible (like with standards). So consider carefully what new flexibility to add.
  • Workflow suggestion: make the preview window much better, more open and flexible. Have people build in Openbox and get the spreadsheet right in the preview window before doing the full build to Excel.
  • Should we add the ability to ingest a full model? Mixed views. Would it provide useful audit comments or just lots of issues you don’t know how to deal with? We are going to try this feature and see.
Oliver Durston


Oliver Durston

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