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The story of Quadrant

The story of Quadrant starts with a tale of frustration, bureacracy and corporate IT. The organisation I worked for relocated in late 1996. We moved into a wonderful new building with swish new open-plan offices and a brand new "one size fits all" PC on every desk. Fine and dandy, until we wanted to use some of our old specialist (not MS Office) software. "Sorry, that will have to be checked out by the corporate IT people before we can risk putting it onto your networked PC. The policy is that every piece of software has to be checked and passed for compatibility with the corporate standard stuff. And, by the way, we now have at least a six-week backlog before we can even look at your software, and you will have to buy new licences so we can put it on the network etc. etc". This isn't exactly how it happened, but you get the picture. Anyway, eventually, several months later (and still no sign of our old tools, which had failed the test) I had an urgent job to do. I needed to use a Monte Carlo type tool in Excel, and didn't have it. I had been writing VBA macros in Excel to do other analysis. At heart I'm an engineer, which basically means that if I want something and don't have it I'm prepared to try to make it out of what I do have. I decided to buck the system and use what I had to do the job I wanted. I started developing the software to do risk analysis in Excel in my own time.

A concerted effort over the next few weeks, including a few (some "really") late nights, and I had the core of what I needed. An Iteration Engine that I could drive from within an Excel spreadsheet (version 5 & 95 at the time). It wasn't pretty, but it did the job.

After a while, I decided to put a simple control dialog box on the front end to make my gizmo easier to use and Quadrant, my "QUick And Dirty Risk ANalysis Tool", was born and named in late January 1998. At this stage I was happy to have solved my own problem, and to have a useful tool that I and others could use. A few of my colleagues may even still have their copies of the first generation Quadrant. I doubt that anyone still uses it, though. It did need a bit of a polish, but was pretty good for a 30k or so add-in. Most important of all, it did the job. It was very simple. It was all I needed. I hadn't needed to wait for the IT people to tell me that the commercial Monte Carlo risk analysis package had failed the compatibility test and I couldn't have it anyway.

A couple of job moves and lots of studying since Quadrant was born has meant that I have developed it only very slowly, with friends and colleagues as beta-testers. I've added a couple more ways to control how the results are presented, tidied up the iteration engine and fixed a few "anomalies" as well as converting it to Excel 97's object model in the meantime, but Quadrant is still fairly small and simple. It doesn't hide anything and still doesn't know how to hurt Excel.

Current Developments

I have now restarted development of Quadrant (as of January 2010), and will be adding new features and capabilities, such as a greater range of probability density functions, better data input and analysis options prior to a first commercial release. I will also be remodelling this website and moving it to a new home at www.qdrnt.com. Watch for developments.


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