Corporate Software Then
Nine years ago in 2000, writing Windows applications with Microsoft tools was almost rocket science, except messier, and more prone to error. Businesses (and developers) were still using tools like 4D, C++ Builder and Delphi to develop corporate Windows applications which were (relatively) inexpensive, secure, and bulletproof.
E-commerce systems were already running complete customer service, cash register, credit card processing, shipment processing and mail list management tools, on their big e-commerce web servers. These “admin systems” ran in the browser in a subdirectory on their dot-com sites.
But most businesses couldn’t afford to run business applications in a web browser. They didn’t have a web development team, and security and user control wasn’t good enough. A best decision would have typically been: Use 3rd party tools like 4D, C++ Builder and Delphi to develop for Windows.
Corporate Software Now
Now, the Microsoft .NET Framework has greatly simplified Windows development. It’s taken Microsoft a decade to catch up, but Visual Studio is now capable of producing reasonably quick and well-behaved Windows applications, in a reasonable timeframe.
The .NET Framework must be installed on the user’s machine in order for the application to run. Windows development takes slightly longer than equivalent web development. Now, there are no problems with running corporate business tools from within a web browser. There haven’t been, for many years. However, perceptions are changing FAST!
Remember that for most developers, “Web 2.0” and AJAX truly arrived only last year. Web/AJAX applications are fun to use, behave perfectly as expected on the desktop, require no installation for new users or new computers, and have reduced training times. Web development is slightly quicker than equivalent Windows development.
But wait, there’s more, regarding web applications running in a browser. Applications can all be located in a central place such as a corporate web portal or intranet. Applications from several vendors and markets can be launched from the same interface.
Arrangement of applications can be changed easily by editing a web page. Applications can be re-branded, have logos updated, or can be re-styled all at once with corporate CSS style sheets, at almost negligible expense.
Written by Keith Mitchell, Senior Developer at NSK Inc