When The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) decided they needed a web application to allow easy access to the expenses management system they initially went to ASP.NET web forms combined with CSS. The outcome, however, was not satisfying enough as it appeared bland and lacked in richness. So in order to enrich the UI and give the web application some glitz, Visual WebGui was selected. Visual WebGui provided the needed richness and the familiar Windows look and feel also made the transition for the desktop users very easy.
The richer GUI of Visual WebGui conveyed some initial concerns about performance. But it turned out to be a surprising advantage as the website maintained good response times.
Working with Visual WebGui required a slight paradigm shift for the development process as some of the usual methods of coding with ASP.NET did not apply. However, the transition was fairly easy due to the simplicity and intuitiveness of Visual WebGui as well as the good support and documentation. Visual WebGui is a Visual Studio extension for building rich internet applications in .NET (VB.NET or C#) which allows true visual form-based development within VS, a built-in Ajax protocol and native HTML5 browser support.
“The shift into a different development paradigm was eased by the Visual WebGui web forums which are very active thanks to a large, involved community. There are also several video and web pages dedicated to answering the most commonly asked questions and pitfalls" Dave Bhatia, Systems Engineer who added "A couple of issues such as deploying on IIS7 seemed to be show stoppers at first, however the solution was readily available in a white paper on the Gizmox website.”
CORE has approximately 150 employees who travel and expenses incurred for travel were getting tougher to manage. An electronic system was proposed to manage the expense reports so a workflow could be put in place and the data accumulated from the new system could be analyzed. Expenses needed to be categorized so additional needs could be determined and further decisions could be made on maximizing the return from incurred expenses. It was also critical to itemize the expenses for tax purposes.
A workflow was desired so that once the employee submitted the final Expense Report, the Sheet was locked and no further changes were allowed until the manager approved it; this would also prevent someone from changing a past expense sheet.
A web application was required in this case to allow easy access to the system to the employees who are spread out and mostly travelling. A rich GUI experience was also needed since most users were familiar with the Microsoft Windows interface. The data needed to reside in Microsoft SQL Server so proper backups could be made within the existing CORE IT eco system. Additional features were put in place for Active Directory integration and SQL Reporting Services integration.
Visual WebGui allowed CORE to upgrade their employee expense management system into a rich web based system according to the functional requirements and integration needs and allowed the IT department to deliver this efficiently and on time even with only 1 developer allocated.
“The tough part of making the web GUI appealing was very easy so our development team (which comprised of just one developer) could focus on the core functionality of application requirements. Visual WebGui made the project feasible and fun” commented Dave Bhatia.
The new system has proven to greatly improve the efficiency and accuracy of the accounting tasks. The user satisfaction was very high at initial deployment, performance turned out to be a big advantage and the Accounting department is happy since there are now workflows in place.
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