REVIEW OF VILLAGE APPRAISAL FOR WINDOWS
This software has been written to help survey villages and perhaps
other communities produce survey forms, enter the survey results, and
analyze and print the results. As such it is an alternative to either
time consuming use of paper, pencils and calculator, or more
expensive general purpose spreadsheets and other software. The overview
booklet claims that prior to the introduction of Village Appraisal for
Windows, questionnaires were copied "without too much thought to local
relevance", and "questions" had unfortunate biases.
VA for Windows was not used, but [could at the time ] be obtained from Gloucestershire University.
It was preferred to "Compass" from Leeds University for two reasons,
Firstly, it allows the area to be surveyed to be divided up into areas,
and each area analyzed separately. Secondly, VA makes provision for a
single form to contain details from up to five people in that
Stated limitations of VA for windows include an overall limit of 100
Questions, an overall limit of 15 self written questions, and an overall
limit of 15 text response questions.
The software was ordered by telephone, requested as urgent, and arived
A useful large plastic carrying folder contained an introduction to
Village Plans, a large and well printed manual, a printed list of
the standard questions incorporated within the software, and a CD-ROM
sealed in the usual sealed copyright envelope.
The manual specifies a minimum system requirement that includes a 13MHz
Pentium I, 16Mb RAM, running windows 95, 98,ME, XP, or 2000, but prefers a
550MHz Pentium 2, with 64Mb RAM. Entry of survey forms can be split across
several computers, but the manual suggests that questionnaire creation and
final analysis is done by a more powerful computer.
The software was tested on two XP systems, a lap top running XP home,
and a desktop running SP Professional. Both systems were updated to SP2.
The CD-ROM auto-booted to an installation menu which suggested that all
other applications be closed before the installation be completed.
However, the full screen installation screen itself prevented mouse bringing
XP's auto-hide out of hiding in order to enable other windows to be
closed. This meant that Alt+TAB had to be used to bring each of the
other windows up and allow them to be closed in turn. The installation
screen also made it difficult to get into System Restore to create a
restore point for use when removing the software. The message here is to
do all the housekeeping before inserting the CD into the drive.
Confirming that we had exited from other software, VA for Windows
offered directory C:/VA/ as a possible installation directory. According
to XP conventions, this was changed to C:/Program~/VA/, which the software
accepted and used.
Installation files totaled about 2 MBytes. Since
none of the files installed into the VA directory exceeded 1.4MBytes, they
could easily be transferred to four standard high-density 3 1/2 inch
disks, if the program needed to be transferred to a machine without a CD-ROM drive.
Strangely, installation left an explorer window open at the start menu
directory containing the link to start VA for windows. Clicking on the
link, or going to start menu > All Programs > VA > VA invoked the
main VA for Windows screen.
Although the main VA Window has both a "Full-screen" mode, and a
"Restore" mode, both are fixed to full screen size. Thus the only way of
seeing both VA Window and another window in order to copy text between
them is to switch the VA Window into Restore mode and move it partly
The first operation is to create a "Project", This requires a name which
then appears as the title of the questionnaire. It also requires the
number of areas into which the survey area is to be divided and a name for
each of the areas.
VA for Windows has the following question type limitations...
SINGLE ANSWER MULTIPLE CHOICE
MULTIPLE ANSWER MULTIPLE CHOICE
CODED / TABULAR
YES / NO
TEXT / COMMENT
1) Numeric entry questions are confined to a single number per