Front Range Data Management Services, Inc.

Visual Basic programming

Visual Basic

  Microsoft Excel
  Microsoft Access
  Custom Reports
  SQL Server
Custom programming or Off the Shelf software?
How much will it cost?

Front Range builds custom programming systems in Visual Basic. Visual Basic system have a number of advantages over other systems: (1) Performance is excellent, (2) there are a lot more tools to work with in the user interface, (3) Visual Basic is much more powerful than Microsoft Access, and (4) Windows Client systems are less expensive to develop than web-based systems.

Visual Basic, since the advent of the Microsoft .NET environment, are very capable and fast programs. Microsoft built a common language system to support their programming languages which is very robust. This broke two old axioms of programming languages: that Visual Basic was slower than programs written in C, and in most cases deployment is much simpler. Visual Basic, before the advent of the .net environment, was a very different system, and it was significantly slower than C (however, good programming design will overcome the performance difference). However, Visual was entirely redesigned to work with Microsoft's other programming languages; it is now translated into executable code that runs on the same framework as their other languages. The second old axiom was that Visual Basic systems needed to be installed on the client computer. Visual Basic 6 and earlier systems, being free standing programs, had to "package" thier support. For example, if the system interfaced with SQL Server, the programmer had to include the elements from Microsoft that make that happen. Under .Net programming, the elements of, say, database access, are built into the .Net framework, which Microsoft includes in the Windows operating system and regularly updates through the Automatic Update process. It has been our experience that simply putting the executable files on a network share enables any computer to run the program.

While the web develpment world has come up with many tools that immitate the power and flexibility of the Windows client (programs specifically written for Windows), there are many tools available in Visual Basic that can not be reasonalby duplicated in HTML based systems. Having the user open a file, for example, is much more efficient in a Windows client than in a browser-based program. Compare opening a file in Microsoft Word to uploading a file to a web site. The Word open compand executes immediately into a full Explorer type dialog box, and once the file is selected, it opens instantly. In a browser-based system, the browser typically takes 5-10 seconds to open the file selection dialog, and when you select a file, it then puts the file name on a web page, and you then click another button to upload the file. Text boxes and combo boxes instantly update, rather than the 1-2 second delay while web-based systems communicate with the server and rerender the page. This affords much more ability to hide, disable, enable, or display appropriate controls on the user interface form. It is also great for performance.

Performance is probably the biggest perk of Windows client programming in languages such as Visual Basic. Web programming certainly has its place; indeed, we're glad you are reading this in a web-based system. However, in cases where performance is critical, the Windows client is compelling. As an example, we built a work order system for a janitorial company. The system was designed for use by call takers, who would capture what a customer needs (be it a complaint to be rectified or an extra service desired). If you can imagine yourself sitting at a call taker's station with a customer on the other end, performance is crucial to a successful call. With a web based solution, the call taker would have to select the client from the list, click a button, and wait 1-2 seconds for the web server to rerender the page with appropriate information for the client; then the call taker makes another selection, waits 1-2 seconds for the web page to update, and so on. Customers are generally not very patient with call takers, they want to make their request and move on to something else. This is where a Visual Basic program shines; there is almost no delay as data is entered and the screen updated to offer appropriate choices.

Finally, web-based systems are typically 50% more expensive to develop. While web programming has come a long way, a successful web-based program contains a mix of server-based controls, client side scripts, and must be deployed to a web server. Our experience suggests that Windows client based programs can be developed for 70% of the cost of developing a similarly capable web based system.

Now, after all this discussion of the advantages of Visual Basic client based systems over web-based systems, you might think we don't like the World Wide Web. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, this article being in front of you would not have happened without web-based technology. We believe, however, that web-based systems have their place. If your system is to be exposed to the Internet, web-based is obviously the only choice. If you are working in an environment with Macintosh or Linux computers, browser-based is the obvious choice. The vast majority of corporate comptuer systems, however are Microsoft Windwos based. Why not unleash the power your network has, rather than deal with clunky and slow browser-based programs. We develop Visual Basic systems from our Denver office that make working with data easy, and it is cheaper than you think! Call us at (303) 403-0386 or request estimates or assistance by e-mail.

Copyright 2012 Front Range Data Management Services