I’ve built quite a few database-driven web applications using Adesso, so I am quite familiar with its offline capability, its integrated design environment (IDE), and its synchronization engine. After all, I started using Adesso all the way back in 2003. Sure, it’s a bit dated now (we are working on this…more details to follow on a forthcoming blog article). But there is still—even in 2013—absolutely no sync engine out there that can match Adesso Sync. If you think otherwise, prove it to me. I welcome the challenge.
My Experience with Straight-Up SQL Server
About 3 years ago, I was convinced by others that for our chain of custody software application concept, I should use native Microsoft SQL Server instead of Adesso. Reasons cited (by other expert developers) included:
So, like an idiot, I bought into those arguments and decided to build our chain of custody tool using native SQL Server instead of our own Adesso Server database. Man, what a mistake that was. We are three years into this (after expending a huge pile of money), and I think the only way I would ever use native SQL Server again instead of Adesso (or Wakanda) for the database engine is if someone put a gun to my head. Otherwise, no way I would ever ever do that again.
Why? Let me explain.
Yes, SQL Server is robust and can handle anything you throw at it. But so can Adesso, because Adesso also uses SQL Server as the database repository, is 64-bit, and can be load-balanced and handle just as many web calls as SQL Server. But at least Adesso contains seriously easy-to-use administrative tools and built-in APIs for any data exchange imaginable. It also happens to be the best commercial sync engine in the world, bar none.
Building Apps with SQL Server as the db is a Pain in the Ass
SQL Server does not come with easy-to-use tools, built-in APIs, or rich sync. It comes with SQL Server Management Studio, which in and of itself is OK, but to use it, you will need to use a VPN connection if you want to access your server database remotely, which adds more layers of latency with which to deal. And if you are using SQL Server on Microsoft’s Azure platform, that’s even more of a challenge.
As for APIs to exchange data between SQL Server and other databases or applications, you will have to build those, too. And what if you want to have an application that can handle offline data and sync back to the database, bi-directionally (like, for example, a native iPhone app)? You are going to have to figure out how to build your own synchronization scripts and logic to handle the sync properly, which is prone to a humongous list of human error bugs when coding it in.
In my opinion, building something in SQL Server is analogous to building a car from a kit with 10,000 parts and a crappy manual. Sure, you can build a Porsche with it, but the sheer amount of effort to get it done is gargantuan when compared to what you can do with something like Adesso in a fraction of the time. Yes, a FRACTION of the time. Like maybe in 20% of the time it takes to do with native SQL Server.
It takes a huge effort to build something with SQL Server, and frankly, it’s just not worth it when there are other tools that are easier to use and manage the database.
I’d like to point out that I’m not saying this to sell copies of Adesso. I am saying these things because after 3 years of building a complex product using SQL Server, I now really appreciate what we have in Adesso, and I kick myself daily thinking about the amount of money and time we would have saved if I didn’t listen to anyone and just went with my gut and built it with our own damn tools.
So What’s So Great About Adesso?
Take a look at the screenshots below.
These are screenshots of Adesso’s SyncAdmin web portal, where, with a few clicks, you can set up user and group permissions and sync rules down to an individual column in a table. So, for example, you could set up a user group to be allowed to view and write data to a particular table column, and another group to only view data entered in that column, and a third group could be set up to not even be allowed to view data in that column at all (fields would be greyed out on their screen).
As for sync itself, you can set up full bi-directional sync (with conflict resolution settings) between the offline client machines and the server, with the ability to add filters in either or both directions, and you can set these up to be different for different users or user groups. This allows you to easily build multi-tenet applications that have to handle data records differently between users and groups. And all of this is in real-time, meaning that if you change any of the permissions or sync settings, the next time your users sync up, those changes take effect immediately and automatically.
Fine-Grained Offline Permissions Is Not Even Possible with SQL Server
Try that shit with native SQL Server. It’s not even possible. You have to build your sync rules yourself. With Adesso, all of that is already handled, tested, and proven out. And if you decide to edit your application’s schema, maybe add another column to a table, or create a new form that displays when a user enters a particular value somewhere? Just make the changes in the Adesso Designer and click on the sync button…presto…all of the schema changes are also pushed down to the individual client devices the next time they sync.
I will never ever ever use SQL Server again to build a product. I learned my lesson the hard way, and at much higher and unnecessary cost and time. Never again. You can be sure that all of my current and future projects (including BernieSez and all enterprise-level applications we build for AEP and Duke Energy) use Adesso as the underlying database engine and technology.Leave a reply
I’ve been using spreadsheet software since the days when Lotus 1-2-3 and IBM PC-XTs ruled the business world. No doubt that spreadsheets are awesome. Easy to use, extremely flexible and powerful, even in today’s world of all things digital.
However, there comes a time when using a spreadsheet for a particular task is like trying to use a soup spoon to build a sandcastle at the beach. At some point, it becomes the wrong tool to use. I’ll use a real example to explain:
American Electric Power (AEP) used to use Excel to manage their entire safety statistics program. Yes—Excel—to manage their OSHA incident rates, near misses, and recordables at a company that employs over 18,000 people; has over 230 contractor firms; and records over 5 million work hours a year just on contractors.
How did they manage that much information using Excel?
I’m sure it all started out as a simple task. Someone got hurt at a plant, Corporate decided they needed a tracking system, and they assigned a person to start a program to track and manage that information. So that person started out by creating a simple spreadsheet. Then it got bigger and bigger. Pretty soon, that spreadsheet contained 5 worksheets in it, then it was 8 different spreadsheets with 5 worksheets each, some of which were used to graph things like which body part was injured most frequently or what day of the week accidents occurred the most. Then they started sending the spreadsheets around by email to everyone involved, forcing them to use a “master” spreadsheet to compile the data from all the other spreadsheets. Eventually, a bunch of people are involved and one person’s formal job description includes details on how to to manage the incoming data and keep the “master” spreadsheets accurate and up-to-date and disseminated across the organization.
Using Database-Driven Web Applications
When your workflow gets to the point where you are sending around multiple spreadsheets by email on a weekly basis, then it’s time to look at a different tool to improve the job at hand, because that task has outgrown spreadsheets. Now it’s time to move your workflow to database-driven web applications.
So instead of using your own people to enter contractor data, let the contractors themselves enter their own data, with limited permissions that can be used to control what they can enter into the system. Then your people are left with QA review of that data. That means less time and cost feeding the machine and more time analyzing what the machine is spitting out in terms of data analytics. And instead of spending an entire day of wages doing mundane tasks like copying and pasting data values from one spreadsheet into a “master” spreadsheet and making sure that cell ranges and formulas are updated, your team can spend its valuable time reviewing the data and understanding what the data are telling them.
That’s what we did for AEP…replaced not only the technology they used, but also changed the way their workflow was handled. By doing this, AEP got a system with more accurate data collection, much faster data analysis and reporting, and substantial payroll cost savings. All from simply moving a tracking process from Excel to a web-based database system.
Do It Now
So, if you are using multiple spreadsheets and email to track, disseminate, and analyze data, then maybe it’s time for you to take a look at the next step: database-driven web applications. They will not only provide your organization with more accurate and timely data, but they will also save you tons of cash in the long run.
We specialize in creating database-driven web applications for the energy and environmental sectors, among others. Drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to discuss your unique problem with me.Leave a reply
Posted on June 26, 2012 by James Young
You may be thinking “…no way that this prediction is accurate…this guy is smoking crack!”
Yes, it’s true that current Windows tablets and phones are so scarce that their total volume is a mere rounding error when compared to the volume of iOS and Android devices in the marketplace today. But that’s today. Remember yesterday? Just 10 years ago, in 2002, Apple was the rounding error. Back then, if someone would have said that in 10 years time Apple products would dominate the tech world and become more valuable than Microsoft and Google combined, the comment above (about smoking crack) would have been levied to that guy.
So what’s around the corner with Windows 8 that’s so awesome for the enterprise?
1. Live Tiles
By now everyone has heard about live tiles. Think about them as a live stock ticker feed like you see on CNN’s Headline News. Rather than using static icons for your apps, tiles display live information on them, even when an application is not running. For example, a weather app will display the latest weather. An email app will display the latest emails arriving in your inbox. Live tiles make static iPhone app icons look downright archaic.
2. A Single OS Kernel Among All Windows Devices
Microsoft has figured out how to cram the entire Windows kernel into a smartphone, even when running on an ARM chip. That means that nearly all of those custom enterprise apps that your organization developed will run on the new Windows 8 hardware, even on phones. Some apps will need to be recompiled, of course, to be compatible with ARM chips and the Metro interface, but the ability to port entire C++ apps across all devices running Windows 8 is huge! This is something that not even Apple apps can touch in the enterprise.
3. All Your Apps and Docs, From All Your Devices, In a Common Interface
Let’s face it. Change is sometimes hard to deal with, and more so for the older generation. With Windows 8, you learn how to navigate a single OS, and it’s the same regardless of whether you are using a tablet, PC, laptop, or even a phone. The interface — and the apps — are the same. Microsoft Office, with Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, works the same on any device running Windows 8. And document sharing among all your devices is seamless. Try that on a Droid. Not possible.
4. It’s Microsoft
Everyone loves to bash Microsoft. But make no mistake: Microsoft always learns from their missteps, and they are a force to be reckoned with by the time they figure out what they did wrong. Not convinced? Is Netscape, the maker of the original web browser, still here today? No. Netscape was first, but Microsoft prevailed. Likewise, Apple was first with an amazing phone OS in 2007 (a mere 5 years ago), but the jury is out whether they will maintain that lead 5 years from now. And Microsoft understands the enterprise’s security needs better than anyone. IT departments at nearly all mid-size and large enterprises are very Microsoft-friendly. There’s no way that Apple or Google’s Android can penetrate the IT departments the way that Microsoft has and will continue to do so.
Will Windows 8 also dominate the consumer space? Probably not, at least not in the near term. But in my opinion, Windows 8 will dominate the enterprise mobile space once again, and it won’t take long to do it. It’s coming, and not a day too soon.Leave a reply
Posted on June 12, 2012 by James Young
Simply put, Adesso Web Client (AWC) is a server-side version of Adesso that happens to work over any web browser. Its core use case is for field data entry on modern browsers such as Safari on iOS, Firefox on PC/Mac, Chrome, and even IE on PC. Imagine your Adesso application, but accessible over a web browser. That’s basically it. Nothing more.
How is it different from regular Adesso Client?
Because it runs over a web browser, there are some inherent limitations in AWC. This includes the following:
If it can’t do those things with AWC, then why should I use it?
Well, it’s free for Adesso users. There’s no fee to use it. The typical use case of AWC is for basic field data capture and/or editing using a standard web browser, including your mobile phone. There’s no software to download or install. It just works, as long as you have Internet connectivity. It’s great for editing records that were entered by another person and for entering new records where you are simply entering text, picking values from list boxes, selecting radio buttons, etc.
What are the benefits to using AWC?
When will more features be available on AWC?
We are working on improving AWC. Currently, this is version 1.0. By this time next year, it should be pretty close to parity with the standard Adesso Client app, except that it will be limited to online only, not offline.
Would you like to be notified of upcoming changes and developments? Fill out the form below!Leave a reply
Posted on May 21, 2012 by admin
When Windows 8 hits the market, many home users who upgrade or purchase new devices with the updated operating system (OS) will likely face some confusion. For most of the years that Microsoft Windows has been on the market and for most of the upgrades that have been offered for the OS, many key factors have remained the same.
This is all about to change, and in a big way.
What Will Be New?
When you log into Windows 8, you’re going to notice some immediate differences from prior OS versions:
No Start Menu
The Start menu has been at the heart of the Windows OS since Windows 95. It’s where users go to open programs, run the command prompt, open recent documents, and much more. Windows 8 throws that concept out the window, to be replaced with a “Start Screen” that will allegedly make opening and switching between applications a smoother process for desktop and mobile users alike.
Program Tiles Instead of Icons