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Old November 27th, 2005, 06:06 AM
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Default making the right choices?

Before I start, I apologise for the lengthy post, but the choices are overwhelming. Im not sure if i'm posting in the right room, as possibly a few rooms on wrox would suffice, however i chose this room as it is my biggest question mark.

I have somehow managed to engage myself in preparing a system for the company that I am working for. We are a small/medium civil/structural & geotechnical engineering firm. Management has decided that they would like a system where the employees(including myself) can enter 'time sheets' (amongst other things) on the jobs they are working on and at any time be able to collate and interpret whats happened on the job. I.e How much of the budget have we used up on this job so far?...so on..so on. It is also to be used as a base to store all the information on the jobs and billings.

I am a qualified civil engineer and self taught at software programming (it is a great interest of mine), but am responsible for clients (engineering related), system administration (note that we only have 12 client computers to care for) and now the implementation of this system. Enough of the boring background into my question, but i feel its relevant to hopefully receive the answers to my questions.

My question is can i get some feedback and/or advice on the languages/programs that I have chosen to do this and possible links that may relate to the type of application Im after. The list is as follows.

SQL server 2000 (New to this, reading professional SQL server 2000 programming)
C#.NET 2002 being part of VS.NET 2002(most I have done is in VB.Net but i think this language has many benefits to what I would like to do, hence the question mark, do i stick to what I know or is it worth the time to learn this language)
Windows application using windows forms and datasets( or possibly something else?) to manage data.

The above software is available (including Access? maybe a viable option) and would like to use a combination of these.

Thankyou for any comments and I apologise for the length, but its hard to compact the problem and im facing myself for a long road ahead. Unfortunately I have to fly solo except for any advice I can get along the way. Ahh the learning curve.



:)
 
Old November 27th, 2005, 10:12 AM
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Default

There are many off the shelf solutions available in the market these days to serve such requirements. But most of them are designed to achieve bigger goals and I believe scaling them down to your requirements would require you to do more work then you would do writing a small-compact-concise solution of your own. Not only will it save you some money it will be – YOUR OWN—easy to modify, customize and control.

U have all the software you need, with you.

The architecture part: I think making this solution into a web application is the most natural way to go. Making this solution into a windows application wont be as advantageous. Dealing with databases and incorporating reports and stuff in windows applications often requires you to do more work than you SHOULD need to. Reports, yes, incorporating reporting and presenting them would be much more naturally complemented to the solution any time later on with this architecture.

Setting up an intranet (which I believe must be there already) and installing the web application on the server for others to access it from there to interact/update a centralized database (SQL server installed on the same server) is how I picture it.

I would recommend sticking to SQL Server here ‘cause if I’m not wrong Microsoft had incorporated XML support in SQL Sever from its 2000 version onwards. That will save u a lot of formatting time while designing the front end. Output the data as XML and apply a proper style sheet and voila your front end is ready. Alright.., not that easy off-course, but it will take care of a major portion of the client end design part.

Plus this architecture will give you many other advantages also, like centralized updates and centralized installation, easy maintenance etc..

Above all that this would also solve the language dilemma ‘cause ASP.NET applications can be coded in whichever .NET language you r conversant with. You can even mix and match so to speak.

If you are willing to learn, however, C# IS the de facto .NET language. But if getting the job done 'quickly' is higher on the priority list, VB.NET is the way to go. And there hardly is anything you cannot do in VB .NET that you can do in C#.

And yes, my post should make you feel less guilty for the length of your post.

Hope you find something useful out of it.

Regards
Ankur Verma
 
Old November 28th, 2005, 05:49 AM
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Thankyou very much in taking the time to reply Ankur Verma.

Off the shelf products were considered but were scared off by the price. Im much cheaper. :)

You have pretty much answered what was in the back of my mind, however I have started with a windows application, but its not to late to change to a web application i think. There is plans to expand in the future and what you say makes sense and I think it will be easier to do that if I change my architecture now.
Thankyou once again.

Regards

Scott Spackman

 
Old November 28th, 2005, 06:52 AM
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You are welcome. I'm glad I was able to help, and yes, all my friends call me Ankur Verma (every time they have to call me) only, so what you did was nothing new. I'm also known to have responded to just "Ankur" though. So you might wanna try that.

Regards
Ankur
 
Old November 28th, 2005, 02:53 PM
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Hi Scott ,

If you decide to take the web route, be sure to check out the Time Tracker Starter Kit from this location: http://www.asp.net/downloads/default.aspx?tabindex=5

It's a starter kit from Microsoft to demonstrate the capabilities of .NET. It comes in a VB and C# version, both in a Visual Studio .NET and an SDK version.

While the application itself has a few issues, and may not have exactly what you need, it's worth to try it out, diagnose the code and either borrow from it, or base your application on it.

Cheers,

Imar
---------------------------------------
Imar Spaanjaars
Everyone is unique, except for me.
While typing this post, I was listening to: Dancing by Tindersticks (Track 7 from the album: Curtains) What's This?
 
Old November 29th, 2005, 05:53 AM
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Thankyou Imar, I believe this resource will come in very handy.

Its great that people take the time to help people with miniscule problems such as mine.

Thankyou Imar and Ankur for replying, I shall go and do some research now and hopefully one day be in the position to help others also.

Kind regards
Scott.





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