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 â YOUR OWNâeasy 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 âcause if Iâm 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 âcause 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.