Developers who were intimidated by the move to the world of web development immediately turned enthusiastic with the new project in Visual WebGui because they could feel useful again." Toni Garcias
OA6 is a software development company that has been building solutions from 1994 with different commercial denominations. From MS Access 97 and Visual Basic 6 to Visual Studio 2010 the company has been developing windows applications for different business areas as public telephony, transportation, sales, and engineering.
In the last few years OA6 has been asked to move many of their customers' old apps to the internet/intranet platform. After trying the Asp.Net way with third party controls they found that it was too time consuming and went over budget so the company decided that its solution for their Windows Forms developers to jump into the Web world would be Visual WebGui.
The current case study is an old Windows application moved to a Web based platform. The customer is an airline maintenance center that needed solutions for parts requirement control, shipment tracking, stock control, scanned document/certificates management.
The customer needed to allow access to its old Windows system to different users at different locations while maintaining the current systems and data bases interactivity. It was also important to be able to build new tools that can integrate with the current systems (i.e. email systems) as well and keep the current system's functionality and UI so there is no learning curve for current users.
In terms of functionality, the system was divided into several parts each with its own requirements.
- The requirement system needed to allow input for the parts requirements, requestor identity, A/C destination, job cards etc. and integrate with the shipping tracking system to maintain last arriving information to critical parts in order to program tasks and priorities.
- The stock system needed to maintain information of parts in stock, shipments between the different airline stores and bases and automatic emission of orders to providers.
- The content management system is an intranet feature allowing the users to build a searchable repository of office documents, pdf’s, etc. of technical and any other valuable information.
- A scanned document management system was needed to quickly store and recover certificates for an increasing number of 100,000 batches of aircraft parts.
- Additional features such as communication system templates, internal memorandums, providers' directory with shipment instructions, etc. were added to the project.
The design goals were to follow the familiar MS Office 2007 look and feel while offering the application anywhere without installation of clients, dlls, versions, etc. Since this would be a data centric application it was also important that the application is responsive and provides solid performance even when high loads of data is being processed.
OA6 looked for a solution that would allow them to enable local and remote users to use enterprise information and give feedback and centralize and normalize information. The team evaluated Visual WebGui and found that given the requirements it was the best solution for building the integrated extranet/intranet tools for their system.
"We were trying different Asp.Net solutions with third party frameworks, but the learning curves were excessive for our needs", said Project Manager Toni Garcias and added that "We finally chose Visual WebGui because also VB6/Windows Forms developers without Asp.Net experience where capable of building VWG Forms and give it functionality in a very short time. Developers who were intimidated by the move to the world of web development immediately turned enthusiastic with the new project in Visual WebGui because they could feel useful again." Web designers and illustrators also found the way to integrate themselves into the VWG framework.
The OA6 team who worked with Visual WebGui stated that performance was fully satisfactory and since security is by design there was no need to work on additional solutions for securing the end points. They also admired the possibility to show homogenous information to extranet/intranet users, from very different local resources as MS Access databases, SQL Server databases, Excel files, digitalized files, etc.
With Visual WebGui OA6 found a way to normalize information from very different sources, and allow remote users input data in local databases while maintaining the use of old local Windows desktop apps. OA6 also increased accessibility of users to the system compared to the previous system. "Our users/customers can now reach their information from any place in a very safe way, including at home or when they are traveling," commented Toni Garcias.
Since Visual WebGui was the solution it was easier to meet the design goals with the MS Office 2007 UI that allows a more familiar and intuitive user experience for the current users who are already used to the Windows application UI. The transformation of the previous client/server application into a system based on the Visual WebGui “Empty Client” concept also dramatically increased the responsiveness and overall performance.
Due to Visual WebGui OA6 also attained a centralized system which according to Garcias "just the benefits of a maintainability and scalability of VWG in front of VB6 client/server apps justify our decision, but many other reasons help us to take the right way." From the business point of view choosing and using the VWG framework showed a significant reduction in the total cost of the project which came down to only 30% of the original estimated cost.
Content/Documents Management system
- User and Role based access to restricted documents.
- Searchable document management systems.
- Remote uploads and downloads
- Also integrated in an old “ASP Page” frame.
Parts Requirement & Shipment Tracking System
- Introduction of requirements
- Different query filters
- Different reports
- Backup and archive
Material Stock Management system
- Parts and stock per store management
- Orders, automatic generation and email emission
- Shipment input/output control and delivery notes
- Consumptions to aircraft
Digitalized Documents/Certificates Management system
- Multipage TIF file support
- Searchable by batch number
- Zoom, panning and orientation tools
- Automatic Conversion to downloadable PDF file