Databases and Web Applications
Database management systems (often abbreviated as DBMS) provide tools for working with structured information. DBMS programs allow you to define the data structures that store information; enter, edit, and delete information; search for specific data items; work with subsets of the data based on a variety of criteria; perform calculations and store, view, or print the results; and carry out regular maintenance tasks such as archiving old data.
Many off-the-shelf packages used by businesses and non-profit organizations, such as accounting software and medical or legal practice management software, are in fact database programs. When an off-the-shelf package comes close to satisfying your requirements, that choice is usually the most cost-effective and easiest to implement. If your organization requires customization, such as special reports, your best choice might be to purchase a package that permits this type of customization. We can help you with the installation and customization.
When your organization has special requirements not easily satisfied by an off-the-shelf package, or if the available choices are either too rudimentary or too large and complex, our programmers can build a customized solution from scratch using a DBMS. Depending on your budget and the environment in which the application will run (single PC's, local area network, wide area network, or the internet), the most suitable DBMS might be Access, Visual FoxPro, or SQL Server with a user interface built using Access, Visual FoxPro, or Visual Studio.Net.
If all or a portion of your data will be accessed over the Internet, we can build a web site for your organization that is entirely or partially data-driven. This means that rather than building individual HTML pages from scratch, we use a template for each type of page in your site, and merge data from your database into this site. For example, if you sell products in an online store, the layout of each product page is specified by the template, while the specific product information is drawn from the database.
A data-driven website may be accessible to the public, as would be the case for an online store, or it might be password-protected and accessible only to your staff, members, or branch offices. For example, a non-profit organization with offices in three cities might work with a single membership database updated and queried over the Internet from these three locations. In this case, you are in effect using the Internet as a simple and inexpensive wide area network. In some cases, you'd want a combination of the two approaches. For example, the non-profit in this example might publish a searchable membership directory on the public portion of its web site, but use a password-protected private site to enter, update, and report on membership and donations.
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