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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    92

    Question Unanswered: Which Software to use?

    OK, here's my situation. I am currently preparing to have a DB program developed that will be installed onto hundreds of laptops. These laptops will need to update an internal DB, as well as a DB on the web. The program front end will need to be a browser.

    Laptops are not networked in any way. They are not connected to LAN, and will rarely be connected to the net.

    There will not be administrators for these laptops.

    Program is expected to sell for around $200 for each laptop.

    The recommendations from bidders keep coming for MySQL, SQL Server, etc.... to be used.

    The program contains a lot of personal information for website viewing, and can not be released under GPL due to the nature of the DB contents.



    PROBLEM:
    1) The amount of the cost for licensing these products, is more than the software itself costs!

    2) There will not be "trained" (Administrators) people using the laptops, only standard users without much administrator know-how.


    QUESTION:
    1) Are there any easy to use alternatives to this situation?Something standard computer users can use.

    2) What would you recommend and why?

    I'm one of the standard computer users too, so lease use laymans terms.
    ANY help would be appreciated.

    Thnx.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Beaverton, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    11
    Any application that will entail a web browser interface and tie in to a database backend will not be simple to deploy. Perhaps you already realize this, but installing and configuring a web server (i.e. Apache), a scripting language processor (i.e. PHP), and a database (i.e. PostgreSQL) on hundreds of laptops would be a nightmare.

    If you have the option, you might consider a compiled executable application for the end user rather than a browser. You'll get the benefit of a richer, faster interface, and deployment headaches would be reduced immensely. The application could still talk to the web database for synchronizations.

    Every person will promote their favorite tool and I am no exception: Delphi (http://borland.com/delphi) is easy to learn but a powerful language and creates native executables for either Windows or Linux (http://borland.com/kylix). It can talk to several different databases, including my favorite, Firebird. (BTW, Delphi can also be used for web development using three different technologies, including .NET!)

    Firebird (http://firebirdsql.org), which is open source, has an embedded version which is a simple .DLL file to deploy, but can scale up to handle large databases as well. It also has good transaction, stored procedure, referential integrity and trigger support (if you're familiary with those important database features). Firebird runs on Windows, Linux and many other platforms, has PHP support for web page scripting, and requires no DBA management for small applications.

    Hope this helps!
    David Cornelius
    http://CorneliusConcepts.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    92
    Thanks for your reply corneliusd,
    That looks like what I'm beginning to lean towards. The compiled executable application.

    "the benefit of a richer, faster interface"

    My only question is, aren't those all the standard "ugly" grey screen programs, or can they actually look decent now days?

    I definitely agree the headaches would be removed, as far as set-up goes. And would likely choose this method just for that reason.

    I will definitely mention this to the bidders...Thanks.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    706
    What you are describing is:
    • An application that will run against a local database; and...
    • that will need to be periodically synchronized against a remote master database.

    It would be overkill to run a server-style database on the laptop (MySQL et al) because no more than one user at a time would be using that copy anyway.

    The problem of synchronization between slave and master databases has been dealt-with many times by many tools and products. Be sure to include in your RFP a request for all bidders to explicitly state how they intend to address this issue.

    Try a Google search on "database synchronization" for background.
    ChimneySweep(R): fast, automatic
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Beaverton, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    11
    Originally posted by inzzane
    My only question is, aren't those all the standard "ugly" grey screen programs, or can they actually look decent now days?
    Any pentium-class computers produced in the last 5 years will run Windows 98 or better and most will run Linux with X Windows--both rich graphical user interfaces with as much color as you want.

    What type of laptops is this slated for?
    David Cornelius
    http://CorneliusConcepts.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Beaverton, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    11
    Originally posted by sundialsvcs
    It would be overkill to run a server-style database on the laptop (MySQL et al) because no more than one user at a time would be using that copy anyway.
    Agreed--for most database platforms.

    FWIW, Firebird has an embedded version which isn't really a server, but a simple .DLL that provides the same SQL language access to the same database files as when on a true server. It's limited to just one local user and is perfect for laptops. Of course, one advantage of having the same underlying database on both the local and remote machines is the data structure and access layers of the application need be written only once.
    David Cornelius
    http://CorneliusConcepts.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    92
    Thanx sundialsvcs,
    Thats what I was looking for...a good way to describe it. As all of the bidders right now are trying to figure out exactly what my point is, I'll probably just cut and paste that statement to them.

    "An application that will run against a local database; and...
    that will need to be periodically synchronized against a remote master database.

    It would be overkill to run a server-style database on the laptop (MySQL et al) because no more than one user at a time would be using that copy anyway."

    Thats been my whole idea, but explaining it from a newby's mind is pretty difficult. :P It should at least get them all running in the right direction. As for explicitly stating how they will address the issue, I agree and that is my main point in dealing with them. As I realize it is HUGE issue in this program.

    As for the laptops, they are military based, and likely to be a few years old, but probably at least P4.

    Unfortunately I have not dealt ith Firebird, I'll have to look into that as well.

    Seriously, thank you guys for your help here. It's set me on the right track!

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