Michelle Murrain - Nten

townripeData Management

Jan 31, 2013 (4 years and 4 months ago)

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Building Hybrid Database
Applications

Michelle Murrain

Vice President for Technology

Database Designs Associates, Inc.

Presentation Overview


What are hybrid applications?


Why hybrid applications?


What are their strengths and
weaknesses?


Lessons learned

What are hybrid applications?


Hybrid applications are client/server
applications that use both open source and
proprietary tools
-

open source on the server
side, and proprietary on the desktop side


Designed primarily for allowing different kinds of
access to the same data: web based, and
desktop based


Designed to deal with cross
-
platform issues
-

any OS can be used to access web version

What are hybrid applications?


In these specific examples, we have used open
source database and web server back
-
ends,
and Access or Crystal Reports desktop front
ends


Membership database


Integration of web
-
based timesheet application with
Access
-
based payroll system, and reporting with
Crystal Reports


Web
-
based incident reporting system integrating with
existing Access database

What are hybrid applications?


School Evaluation system with pre
-
existing
Access database, and web
-
based view of
data for parents and students

Database

Basic structure of a hybrid
application

Access

Web Page

http

odbc

PostgreSQL

Open
Source
Web
Application

Linux Server

Windows Desktop

odbc

Why Hybrid Proprietary/OS?


Leverage open source server
-
side tools


Tools like Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, Perl,
Open source web applications


Mature, robust, secure, cost
-
effective, open


In these situations, few end
-
user training
issues

Why Hybrid Proprietary/OS?


These applications could be developed
using entirely proprietary tools (such as
Windows/SQL server)


More expensive


Less scalable, robust, stable and secure


Closed


Few inherent advantages

Why Hybrid Proprietary/OS?


Take advantage of flexible desktop tools


Well
-
formatted and easy ad
-
hoc reporting


Other strengths of Access and Crystal Reports


Desktop interfaces are more powerful


Use of a Windows desktop front end (most end
-
users have
Windows and Office)


Access allows for ad hoc data analysis and export, so that it
overcomes some of the learning curve by letting users get at
data and manipulate it in spreadsheet form.


There are no open source database forms or
reporting tools with the feature set of either
Access or Crystal Reports

Strengths


Open source server (Linux
-
based, with
Postgresql database and apache web
server) This is a mature, robust and
secure combination


Open source web application tools
-

customizable and modifiable


Strong desktop tools for development of
reporting and some administrative tasks

Weaknesses


ODBC issues


Security


Behavior


Consitency


The web interface likely will require programming


Both Access and Crystal Reports have steep learning
curves


Adopting the hybrid approach after one or the other
application is in place (web app or Access database)
may provide challenges because of the different ways
Access and PostgreSQL deal with data

Lessons Learned


It’s not all or nothing
-

you can use open source
tools along with proprietary ones.


The simpler the application, the easier it is to
make it hybrid


Making them talk nice to one another can
sometimes be a challenge


It may be more complicated than you expect,
especially with very complex applications


End users like the flexibility