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Thread: Online Application Development

  1. #1
    Gold Member Singhms's Avatar
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    Online Application Development

    Hello Everyone,

    This is long term, not right now. However I would like to know how this works.

    I want to have an online management system developed (tools to manage a business basically). The system will then be accessed online by my clients.

    How does 1 go about doing this? Do you hire a software developer and get them to just right the software for you? do you give it to a large software house and get them to develop the software and host it and support it?

    I have no clue where to even start on something like this! The biggest thing for me would be that I am the owner of this software system...

    Any advice\tips\questions to clarify welcome
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    Hi Singhms

    If possible advise what you would like the system to do.

    The reason I say this is that you could maybe find a ready made solution - which would be a lot easier than going the developer route.

    If you do go the developer route then make sure you spec your requirements in great detail. Also be clear upfront what tests you will perform on the system to ensure that it does what you want it to do.

    Ideally go for a fixed price contract rather than per hour charge - otherwise it could end up costing you much more than you think.

    Make sure the contract is a work-for-hire contract and that it stipulates that all rights to the work will belong to you.

    Once the software is developed you could host it anywhere.

    Being able to support it is important. Some considerations - what programming language will you use - make sure the programmers document it well.

    having been involved in a few major software projects I can tell you that it is an area fraught with risks.

    In terms of hiring you can nowadays outsource to places like India for a fraction of what it would normally cost you. Skype and internet conferencing facilities do make this feasible. But make sure you have specced everything in detail.

    If you have any more questions feel free to PM me.

    Good luck with your project.

  3. Thanks given for this post:

    Singhms (15-Sep-11)

  4. #3
    Gold Member twinscythe12332's Avatar
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    zunaid covers the important parts, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself:
    Do I know what I want the system to do in detail? (very important. you are driving the development. Coders are much better when they have a clear directive).
    If you go with a software developer, where will you host the files and how will you deal with the inevitable extra functionality you need? (the coder codes and disappears... how will you take your project further?)
    If you go to a big software company, what are their policies should you want to take your application and move on? have they locked you into a specialised system? (2 questions you have to deal with when dealing with software houses)

    As zunaid says, there are plenty of ready-made solutions out there, and some where (with a bit of logical thinking and strong coffee) you can set up a system yourself (I've been looking at a solution called processmaker wwww.processmaker.com that has some fairly mind-blowing functionality).

    Here's a little tip for you. Don't go to any software house/programmer and say "make this." You will never finish it. I was once at a software house and we had clients come in who had a very broad idea of what they required, but kept adding new functionality and changing their mind. This is where projects fail.

    I'm reminded of a conversation that went a little like this:
    Engineer: You programmers are always missing deadlines! When we build a bridge, we get it done in time.
    Programmer: oh yeah? try building a bridge across a river while the end point keeps shifting...

  5. Thanks given for this post:

    Singhms (15-Sep-11)

  6. #4
    Gold Member Singhms's Avatar
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    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for all the valuable advice, I do have experience with specification documents so I am sure with some hard work I can put together a proper one. I am also pretty sure of what I want, the main question is the how too part.

    Reading your posts I think the next main question once I have decided on the route to go would be the relationship aspect, to take the "project further" i.e. new versions and problems that need fixing, support etc...

    Something else I taught of, how does the help file work, do you have to create the document and give it to the developer to add it on to the application?

    Thanks,
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    Gold Member twinscythe12332's Avatar
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    Well, if you're going to be giving them a detailed specification, you could integrate it into the site. make sure you can edit and add on.
    Popular ways of integrating help files are normally with FAQs. Make sure you can update.
    If it's more of a manual or "how to" then you can offer a PDF download off the site as well.

    As for the relationship aspect, I'd say you're on the right track so far

  8. #6
    Gold Member Singhms's Avatar
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    What is the trend with online apps taking into consideration our local internet speeds, bandwidth and costs.

    Is it better to just go fully online with an application or have a small app on the local pc where all the info is input and then uploaded into the online app?

    I guess this also adds its own set of complications to have a local pc app with an upload!
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    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    I think that much depends on exactly what the app is to do.

    If the user has to capture loads of info, store it local and then have a single upload ( like SARS easyfile ), otherwise waiting for the server to respond all the time will just kill the usefulness and speed of the software.

    But as you say, that opens up a load of potential pit-falls with users having different operating systems, database drivers installed, firewall settings, etc, etc.

    Personally, I would probably look at something like Java, so the local part of the app can run on ( I think ) almost any operating system. I believe it has the ability to store local data, and good online server communication tools.

    You may also want to put your feelers out on rentacoder.com ( now called vworker.com ) and see what the experts suggest. Maybe make a project for coders to bid on, and ask them to tell you what language they would use for the solution.

    2c
    Watching the ships passing by.

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    Singhms (16-Sep-11)

  11. #8
    Gold Member twinscythe12332's Avatar
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    security becomes fairly important when you have to pipe information through. What happens if you have sensitive business information being syphoned off the network?What encryption do you use?
    Most importantly, how do you ensure everyone is on your latest and greatest program update?
    Going fully online has its drawbacks (speed and cost of bandwidth you have mentioned), but making that decision needs your knowledge on how much data is being transferred, and how often the user will have to request new pages (that's probably the slowest).
    My 2 cents on the matter:
    if you're downloading or uploading large amounts of data, will having a desktop application really matter (I'm looking at this from a speed and bandwidth cost perspective)?
    Does everything NEED to be hosted on a remote server, or can you work on a package that is installed and users use in an internal networking environment?

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    I also think that even though we have been behind the rest of the world as far as broadband costs go the trend is going to be for it to become cheaper and cheaper over time. So this will become less of a factor going forward as additional investments are made into fibre networks, etc.

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