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> Advise Of Selection Of Languages And Framework For Business Automation Web App    
post Jul 22 2020, 02:35 PM

Posts: 90
Joined: 19-February 20
From: Mumbai, India


I have been building business automation apps by using vba in MS Access.
Basically it would include:
1. lookup tables like clients table, employees table,
2. transactions tables like business process data, services data
3. creating documents like contracts or agreements based on various tables and user inputs on forms. Currently I do that by using a word template file and inserting data from form input.
4. Creating invoicing using Excel templates.
5. Create emails using outlook
6. Create reminders in outlook

The problem: these tools work only within local office.

I need to convert these apps into web applications.
What would be recommended platforms which will allow me to use:
> MS Word / Excel template documents to manipulate data and reproduce new documents. (OR equivalent methods to create documents)
> trigger emails and reminders.

I know html, CSS and bootstrap.
Learning Javascript, Angular, Node.js (the MEAN stack)
What about ASP.Net?

Pls guide me so that I spent time learning the right languages and frameworks.

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post Jul 22 2020, 02:52 PM

Posts: 128
Joined: 12-October 04
From: Dallas area

Be sure to look at the thread immediately under this one.

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post Jul 22 2020, 05:26 PM

UtterAccess Administrator
Posts: 10,643
Joined: 7-December 09
From: St. Augustine, FL

Bob, you mean this one? https://www.UtterAccess.com/forum/index.php...owtopic=2058300

Jack D. Leach
Founder & CEO
Dymeng Services Inc.
Business Software Solutions
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post Jul 22 2020, 06:18 PM

Posts: 128
Joined: 12-October 04
From: Dallas area

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post Jul 26 2020, 02:58 PM

UtterAccess VIP
Posts: 3,123
Joined: 12-April 07
From: Edmonton, Alberta Canada

I have many times commented on this issue.

However, you really asking a question similar to what kind of car should you drive?

My answer is I really don’t know. What kind of cars do you like?

And did you like JavaScript or Angular? Which one was the most fun? (be it a car, or a those tools!

So, this is really a huge opened ended question. What flavor of ice cream should you buy?

Really much all the same questions.

However, you did provide some details. So for example you did not say google docs, or say google sheets.
So, you did note that you looking to work with word and excel. Given this information then it would hardly make sense to go run off and adopt the LAMP stack for development. (Since it a non Microsoft platform).

I mean, I would no more suggest to go run off and adopt the Apple desktop development tools if you been working with office and VBA and parts of the office suite like Access for windows software as opposed to the Apple desktop.

So, from a logical point of view, given the additional information you provided?

I would think it makes a whole lot of sense to adopt a Microsoft web server (IIS), and it makes a whole lot of sense to adopt something with a VBA like language. (Say vb.net).

So, that quite much suggests asp.net + vb.net.

And your focus seems to be around the office and desktop eco system as to how you are thinking about and looking at solutions.

However, one should not frame the end goals in terms of HOW you now work.

So, while most long time VBA/access developers grew up around the desktop office and development scene?

Well, then note how your question has been framed in this context!

In other words you want to do “similar” things!

Yes, then hands down asp.net + vb.net is the way to go.

But, do you really need or want to do things the old way? You asking the wrong question!

A good way to think of this was the big change from say green screen (text) based software before the GUI and the windows revolution came along.

Back in green screen days?

Well, you would tend to use batch like approaches to software. So, one program might be run, and it would output a some kind of file. (csv, dbase etc.). In other words:

You MOVED from one business program and process to the next by use of intermediate files.

And of course a lot of existing software? Well, the ONLY way to move data around was to crank out some file. Then that next process would read in that file or “consume” that data.

And then for the next program? Well, once again, you export to some file, and the next program can read + consume that file.

What occurred when the GUI came along?

Well, we started moving away from batch file processing and could now use COM based communication between those software systems.


Well, you can click on a button in say Access. Now, you can launch a copy of word (or maybe Excel). You then crank out some data, and create that Excel file. You then automate a copy of outlook and send off the document as email.

Note how we NOT doing batch processing. And in place of say creating some output file for the accounting system?

Your software talks directly to that accounting package, or you use outlook and attach the RESULTS and send that email.

So, now your “approach” to software is inter-process as opposed to using files and batch processing.

Now, if you NEVER had done windows development with all this cool ability of software to TALK to other programs?

Well,, then you would be asking how to do all that batch file type processing and with what windows dev tool!
But but people would be telling you that you HAVE to CHANGE how you think and approach software design.

The SAME applies here!

You asking and looking in the wrong direction!

You see in place of say:

Click some button. Generate an Excel Sheet. Now automate outlook and send that sheet out to 4 people so we can all work on and view the issues in the Excel sheet.

But, maybe you don’t need ANY of the above anymore?

Why do we need that email with the data or document attached?

With web based?

Just go to some web page and look at the data on line. We don’t need to use batch processing, and we really don’t need to “transfer” the data with Excel (or even PDF’s for that matter).

So, we don’t need Excel, and we don’t need outlook, and we don’t have all these separate programs and data being transferred all over the place.

And we don't have to generate that document and THEN email it to some one. What ARE they doing with that document? This is the "key" question!

All the 4 people without Excel, and without even needing any of that software can all go hit a common web page. We simply “render” the data in a browser. But MORE significant is we did not have all those old style steps anymore.

And it ALSO means that the data is NEVER out of scope or out of date.

Why produce some document that in a matter of hours is outdated!

Now with windows and desktop, we had really no choice. To move data around between people, these intermediate systems were really quite much the only game in town and the only way we had to move data and information around.

So, it is OFTEN a big pain to keep some word document, or some Excel sheet up to date. The instant some order status, or some approval process changes, then those documents, and even the emails etc. are ALREADY out of date!

Why have 5 copies of some Excel sheet?

Just view the data in real time on-line!

So, no documents or data is “transferred” this way anymore, and it not required!

But MORE crititical is you can capture the REASON and the WHY and the ACTION required by the user for looking at and dealing with that document.

What actions and why ARE they looking at the document? This is where the web becomes KILLER and I am sharing a big secret of mine here!

And say with something like google docs? Well then the Spread Sheet can be edited in real time on-line and everyone using that document will see the changes in real time. No need to “transfer” that information – it simply exists in real time as a true reflection of the business information you have.

And I suppose you could allow editing on line – and thus again no multiple copies of that data.

My point?
Well, the web is not only different but requires a DIFFERENT way of thinking and approaching problems. So a red flag here is that you looking to do the same kinds of things you did with VBA/office etc. on the web. That is not really what you should be looking to do!

So just like people coming from mainframe or green screen text based software to windows?

They will say:
Well, we need a screen with some menu options. We choose option 1-5 to launch some program. Run some process, and return back to that main menu. Now that some file was created? Ok, then some other program is to consume that file. But that is HOW you had to work. You did not have inter-program communication!

Now with windows?
So, now you might run Access, and it will automate Excel, and then maybe automate outlook and then maybe send out an email with the Excel sheet. So, the old green screen way did not really apply. We did not have COM inter-op and the ability for software to TALK to each other program. So a WHOLE NEW way of thinking was required here.

And the same goes when looking at the web. Why generate an email and some Excel sheet when all the same things can be done Johnny on the spot in real time? And without transferring the document? You just use/edit/look at the data in its original and MORE important up-to date status at all times “on-line”.

We in effect need to ask this basic question:
What is a pdf?
What is an Excel sheet?
What is a Word document?

Why of course they are “things” we use in business to TRANSFER information from one person to another.

They are a “thing” that allows you to place information inside, and THEN email it to someone, or some on some network folder for OTHER staff to consume. Not really a surprise. But then again, when is the last time you ASKED what is a document?

Now that I just whacked you over the head with a frying pan?

With web based? You don’t need excel or a PDF to send/communicate/work to other people anymore, do you?

Before that was the ONLY choice we had.

Why generate that Excel sheet and send it to the next business step/process/person in that process?

Why not have the web site send a LINK to someone, and they go to the web site and view/see/interact with that information. Now you eliminated outlook, excel and possible several other steps and systems along the way.

More important is what ARE they going to do as a RESULT of looking at the document! You can NOW attach actions and your business process to that viewing of data when you use the web. They not just looking at information, but tey can THEN take actions or make a choice as the RESULT and mere ACT of looking at the document or data. This where the web really shines.

You just query the database, display the information. The customer can now look at, but MORE important click on a button to say approve the quote they are viewing. (That you did not have create with Excel, and you did NOT have to email the Excel or quote to the user!).

So, what I am saying here?

Well, with the web, then that old way of thinking of desktop software, creating Excel to share and transmit information to someone else? You don’t need any of that anymore. Just view it on a web site – and the user(s) can change, or approve/reject or do whatever to that business process they are part of RIGHT on that live data.

In other words, you jumping to real time status for your information.

No PDF, or word or Excel document becomes out of date and out of scope anymore.

I mean the instant you create “some” document, and business status changes? Well then that “thing” is now out of date, and has to be re-disturbed to all the desktops. And worse the INSTANT you create a document is the VERY same instant you LOSE the ability to interact with the customer in real time.

So, you certainly have the trigger of emails correct. But all the other parts really don’t exist anymore.

So, if we think in this new way?

We not shuffling around documents anymore, are we? You eliminate ALL of those documents to be processed along the way.

And because these business process don’t center around the office eco system anymore?

Well, then you have a LOT more freedom to choose a web development stack that not based around these tools and concepts such as creating a word template.

That concept does not even have to apply to web based systems and how you handle typical business process flows!!!

So, you looking at how would do the SAME thing you done with the desktop for the web. But you don’t work that way anymore!

We do have to of course deal with the CURRENT deck of cards in our industry.

So, all those busies have 20+ years of systems in place. You can’t yank them out overnight.

So, this is a transition that can take years. So we have to learn to walk before you run!

Any typical business today likely has close to 20+ or more years of money invested into their existing systems. So, you can’t just un-plug the WHOLE business and go 100% web based.

The ONLY viable approach is to START the moving of SOME business process to the web. And since you have to transition to the web over time? Well then you WILL still be dealing with the old way of doing things. Even in some cases with that web based software.

And since we MUST deal with some of these older business way of doing things?

Then we still MUST deal with those documents and all the jazz that goes along with how we work with computers.

So, in effect I just said:
With the web, we don’t have to think like the old way in terms of software.
With the web, you’re not tied to the old way of doing things.

But, then again, you can’t make such a full change overnight.

So, the “real” answer is:

When you look at the web do NOT think of old ways of doing things.
That business in question has a LONG history of using desktop software, so you will spend years working and having to deal with these systems that been built up over time.

So, the ideal web platform should:
Allow you to work both the older way, and the newer way of doing things.

So, this is why I suggest a system that allows you to leverage your existing skill sets, but START to adopt the newer change in how business software works with the web.

I also do NOT recommend re-writing existing systems and software to work as web based. It is a waste of money.

Often when a business says we need web based?
No, what they really need is to allow any worker in any location (say working at home) to use all of that existing software with ease, and with any internet connection.

Well, they can do that now. Just about every company of near any size uses remote desktop system of some type.

So, the question for this existing software is not to jump on the web, but to adopt things like a VPN, and some remote desktop technology, and thus the need and goal is solved.

It makes LITTLE sense to move existing business process(s) to the web because the web works VERY different.

Do NOT re-write existing software as web based. The only exception here is for software vendors (those selling software). If we talking about existing software used internal by a business? Then you DO NOT want to re-write such software as web based. Moving existing software that STILL works the old way makes no sense - it cannot be cost justified. So don't confuse the any place and any time use of existing software. That problem has been long solved and with remote technologies such software need not be re-written for the web.

And it would make very little sense to move that older text based green screen software to windows and have it work the SAME way as before. (Because it ignores all the cool automation and inter-process software abilities you have. You don’t export a file from Access and then import it into your accounting system. You have access talk to the accounting system and update the data!

So, a change of thinking in the web is required.

The main concept here is that you don’t need (or want) to use all these documents as an intermediate means and system to transfer information. The information can now be used/seen/consumed/changed in real time, and in one location and on-line via the web. Gone is the need to transfer documents – you now deal with the given process in real time, and on-line and “live”.

And you thus not have multiple copies of that data, but you also eliminate the need to sync or update the users with those documents anymore (which fast become out of date).

And even more amazing is those documents were sent around as a means to GET an answer or response from the customer. So, they can look at the project or job on-line, and accept or reject that process at that point in time. And by JUST their act of viewing and looking at the information and making a choice? Then all of the business process KNOW that the customer has looked at that “thing” and made a decision (such as click to purchase, or click to approve or whatever). Once they make that “decision” on-line, then all of your business process KNOW that change and can take action based on the act of the customer looking at, or clicking on some button to approve that business “thing” in some way.

I mean when we started writing Windows based software, there was still a TON of older business processes that cranked out batch files of csv, or tabbed delimited text files (don’t see those much anymore – but SURE did when Access first came out). Same goes for dBase files.

So over time, all these batch files and systems transitioned over to windows and the “automation” approach in which all those systems now talk to each other – often with little need to exchange files.

So, that’s where most business are now. (Years of desktop software and business process based around this concept).

But, as they transition business process to the web? Then the concept of creating those files and passing them around is reduced just like how batch files and reading/writing out files were a BIG part of typical software before windows came along (with software that can now TALK to other programs).

So this concept of using a csv file, or Excel file to move around data and information between people? Well, with the web you actually now don’t have to do this (much) anymore.

What am I saying here?
Well, if you looking to do similar things? Then hands down adopting a similar technology stack that has tons of roots centered on your years of experience? Why then of course asp.net/vb.net is hands down the best choice.

But the problem is we not working with a green screen anymore. So looking to do the SAME kind of batch file processing and approach for green screen systems WAS NOT really what you needed or wanted to do when windows came along. While the mouse driven system was “cool” and all the rage?

While it became VERY difficult for me to see green/screen based software because of no mouse?

It really was not the mouse and the GUI that was the BIG change. The REAL change was that software become more interactive, and you did not run some batch process to crank out some sales report. You would click on a button on a form (event driven programming), and the output would then launch say Excel, and then say outlook and off goes the Excel sheet via email. All I one simple click. So, you GAVE UP the idea of some batch file processing in which you sent output to some file. And then launched some other batch process on that file.

So, now your solutions are in the context of that windows approach.

But, with web based? You don’t need all those separate process. The data simply exists and the web interfaces to that data.

If I have some time, I add another post here.

The reason is that for web based not only is the software different, but due to a DIFFERNT goal, then the #1 issue becomes look and feel.

Albert D. Kallal (Access MVP 2003-2017)
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

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post Jul 26 2020, 05:21 PM

Posts: 128
Joined: 12-October 04
From: Dallas area

Why not consider one of these two application generators:

. PhpRunner

. Scriptcase

Both generate apps but have lots of parameters and options to customize the app. Both have events to let you insert code.

21 day free trial
$499 perpetual license with free updates for first year
Supports MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Microsoft Access (Windows-based Web server only), DB2, Informix, SQLite,Any ODBC-enabled database
Facebook support site - https://www.facebook.com/groups/121465711664
YouTube videos https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGly4nw_dk...Tuto6urg/videos

Facebook Quickstart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3USGhoXKPc
Video tutorials https://xlinesoft.com/phprunner/php-database.htm
Forum https://asprunner.com/forums/forum/4-phprun...eral-questions/

It is suprisingly capable and flexible in options and events.
PhpRunner is the one I personally have licensed.

20 day free trial
$349 per year for single database or $399 per year for multiple databases
$699/799 for lifetime licenses: SQL server, mysql,oracle, azure, Access and 11 more databases
Youtube videos
Webinars & Demos - FREE
online courses - free

I know a handful of people using this that really like it.
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