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Thread: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

  1. #1
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    Default Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    A couple questions for you Alpha experts....

    1) Are there any new tools for migrating from a desktop environment to a web environment? A couple of 2 year old threads suggest that a desktop and web project are entirely different, and indeed Steve Workings's videos seem to suggest this. I thought maybe there might be tools that help convert, say forms and browses to tables and grids.

    2) In any event, can one create desktop application and a web application that share the same DB? If so, does it (as I guessing) involve the app server and the desktop installations accessing the same "remote" db, such as SQL Server?

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator Steve Workings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    (1) There aren't any desktop to web migration tools that I know of. Once upon a time the staff at Alpha showed their beta of a conversion from desktop to web form (and back!) but the reality is that something like that just can't be made to work.

    (2) You'll find several threads here about a desktop/LAN system sharing stuff with a web app. It can be an SQL backend if that's what you need, but also works just fine with Alpha's native .dbf tables. One of my customers, for instance, had a 15 year old LAN system using Alpha. We plugged a web server onto the LAN, mapped a drive to the data server, and opened up some of the data for customers with the web app.
    -Steve


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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Interesting. Thanks. Sounds like I can develop a desktop app for my company, then if requirements expand, develop an alternative web front end.

    -Kurt

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    I was just about to do a search about this.

    I have a great desktop application but am really struggling to convert some of the forms to web. Especially ones that I was using a lot of action scripting on.

    I have a Windows Server 2003 computer that I've set up as a web Server. How do you create a true hybrid application with real time updates? The web application is tied to an IP address while the desktop application is tied to a LAN (which goes through a router on the client's internal server).

    I just don't get it unless there is a remote login for the customer to the IP address to do the desktop work.
    Up and coming Alphaholic ;)

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Elena - Is your web server part of the LAN? That's what I'm suggesting, and what I've done. Then just create a mapped drive from your web server to the data server.

    For instance, Box A is your data server. Your data is on Box A, Drive F:.

    Box B is your web server. Box B gets a mapped drive, designated as Drive D:, that is really a map to Box A Drive F.

    That way, LAN and webserver traffic is all working with the same, live dataset.

    If this doesn't make sense I'll try another approach to 'splain.
    -Steve


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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Wouldn't most clients pay for a web host or a VPN? I'm in Florida and they are in NJ so I'm definitely not part of their lan.

    If I can make my computer a VPN host, then can we run the hybrid version? How would that work with the runtime license though?
    Up and coming Alphaholic ;)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Elena,

    I have a desktop version in my office's LAN with 5 workstations. All data resides on the designated "Server". The WAS is also on that Server. Both the desktop and the WAS read and write from the same data set. Works great from my office.

    If you want every customer to have both the desktop version and the WAS version, then I think uou would want each user to have their own WAS license which is not that expensive.

    I suppose you could do as you implied in your last post - Put the WAS and the desktop on your Server, and use a remote connection from your customers to your server. I wonder about speed/performance though. And if that would work, why would there be a need for a WAS in the first place?

    Gary

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Quote Originally Posted by drgarytraub View Post

    I suppose you could do as you implied in your last post - Put the WAS and the desktop on your Server, and use a remote connection from your customers to your server. I wonder about speed/performance though.
    Speed and performance is excellent with that model. In fact, it may be the best model to use for the desktop....

    Quote Originally Posted by drgarytraub View Post
    And if that would work, why would there be a need for a WAS in the first place?
    The WAS model is completely different than the desktop. The footprint on the client machine is a browser rather than the remote desktop software.

    The WAS model is very attractive for low volume and multiple users with very little setup for the user. It is also very easy to limit users to select tasks.

    The remote desktop connection allows all of the options that you get by sitting in front of another desktop except that you can't physically touch the machine - cd/dvd drives - on/off switches

    But for high volume remote access it's great...

    I find that they are both good tools for their designated jobs, with some overlap, but not too much...
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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Al,

    Interesting. So with a remote desktop connection to a server in my office, would the potential number of simultaneous users be as great as using the WAS?

    Gary

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Okay. Well I have 2-3 people in the company that could use the runtime license and access the desktop application via remote access that require more integral forms and constant connections. The rest would be limited to website access for updating, reports, etc. That's how I originally envisioned it, but

    So, what I would need to do is:

    1. Set up my computer (windows Server 2003) so that it will accept remote access
    2. set up the users with runtime licenses with access rights on the server
    3. set up the website so that when they type in www.name.com, the index page for alpha five comes up
    4. ????? Seems too easy.
    Up and coming Alphaholic ;)

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Quote Originally Posted by drgarytraub View Post
    Al,

    Interesting. So with a remote desktop connection to a server in my office, would the potential number of simultaneous users be as great as using the WAS?

    Gary
    That is one area where the models differ. You would need more CAL's from Microsoft to extend the number of users. But remember it's an issue of the volume of the work the users are doing that is a bigger issue to me.. and therefore determines the better model to use.

    And the differences are getting smaller with each change in technology ( ie newer faster browsers, faster internet connections, and AJAX )
    Al Buchholz
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Al,

    I am a little confused. What do you mean by "low volume" and "high volume"?

    And, based on what you say, it seems that remote desktop connection would be significantly faster performance, and would offer all the features of a desktop version. So specifically what are the reasons to use a WAS version?

    Both solutuions would be accessible from any internet connection and neither would require the user to have any special software other than windows on a pc.

    This is very interesting. I wonder if there is a list of pros and cons for one solution over the other. ...

    Gary

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    I would venture to guess that the best reason for WAS over desktop is the runtime license cost....
    Up and coming Alphaholic ;)

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Elena,

    I am not so sure. Suppose you have a LAN with 10 work stations. Then you would buy a runtime license for 10 users. But I do not think there is an additonal cost to access that LAN from over the internet. You are still just using 1o users on a LAN. Well then again, maybe you are correct.

    But if that is correct, then are we saying that the only real advantage of the WAS is a less expensive alternative to a remote desktop connection? Wouldn't that would seem to be a poor reason? Particularly considering the substantial cost in terms of time to redo the application?

    Gary

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Not if you're like me and have a hard time re-creating web applications for the desktop applications that you've already done.

    The desktop application is much more flexible too and easier to program.

    I like the WAS because it may be better with Ajax, but the learning curve is too steep right now and if I can get just a couple of users with a runtime license using the remote desktop and setting up the rest for web users, then this is a very good thing for me.

    Gotta get the yeah or nay from the gurus first though.
    Up and coming Alphaholic ;)

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Well, I have developed a complete rewrite of my desktop application using the WAS. It works great, albeit a bit slower. I thought that the main advantage of the WAS application that I developed is its accessibility from anywhere. But after reading this thread, I see that a desktop app can be accessible from anywhere too, and with any number of users. So I am wondering what the real advantages of the WAS version of the application are.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    We might be just spinning our wheels here. It may against the license so we'll have to wait and see what they say.
    Up and coming Alphaholic ;)

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Actually, I love the WAS. It may be somewhat of a steep learning curve at first, but after a while, things go very fast. I really am just curious as to the thinking behind going one way or the other. The advantages of the desktop include speed, ease of development, and richness of features. Advantages of the WAS include even greater accessiblity because it is cross platform including different operating systems, even cell phones - wherever you have access to a browser you can access the WAS application.

    But I would love to hear if there are other pros and cons of one over the other.

    Gary

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    I think you've answered your own question about the pros...
    Up and coming Alphaholic ;)

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Two unrelated questions:

    A- Will a Web interface support the maintenance of one-to-many records where the user can 1) select a record in a parent table and then add one or more records to a child table, or 2) Create a child record, then select an associated record from a parent table via a picklist.

    B- Supposing I've developed a web app but don't want to fool with a web server or db server. Are there companies that provide this service? Can anyone recommend one? (EG, just like some providers provide .NET hosting.)

    Thanks. This has become a very interesting thread!

    -Kurt

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Select a record in a parent table and then add one or more records to a child table
    Grid or Tabbed Grid Linker, or custom arrangement using a grid to show parent, and a link to a grid showing related child records and some fancy footwork to bounce between the two.

    Create a child record, then select an associated record from a parent table via a picklist.
    Dropdown box or a Lookup field.

    Supposing I've developed a web app but don't want to fool with a web server or db server. Are there companies that provide this service? Can anyone recommend one? (EG, just like some providers provide .NET hosting.)
    See http://www.alphasoftware.com/hosting/
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    I'm having a little problem with updating information.

    I have several tables. The main table has the job information and there are several other tables that are used to update the job information as certain parts of it are completed.


    I want to bring up a tabbed box like the attached desktop application. How would I get it to link up though? When I search for the job information, there won't be a job number in the update table yet...

    Do I create a grid for each one, hide the job # in the update tables, and then update the job number with the main table's job number when the submit button is pressed? Oh, and if this the way to do it, can someone please help me write the code properly?
    Up and coming Alphaholic ;)

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    Elena

    Not exactly sure of your process but a lot of the time people use a unique ID field that - as its name implies - has a unique entry for each record in the every table. I do this in all my tables - I call my field something along the lines of UIDF (see Cal Locklin's Naming Conventions for why the field ends in an F). The UID field is never shown to the users but behind the scenes it is used to link parents to children. Doing it this way you could have your child record even though the job number is not assigned yet.

    You can check the help file for "auto-increment" (which is a way to get a unique entry for each record) or if you want a custom function to do it - I can post the one I wrote here. It uses a table to keep track of the next number for all things that increment.

    Regards,

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    The job number is unique. The problem is, my update tables don't have a job number in them because nothing's been updated yet. I do have auto increment fields in all of my tables but i don't understand how I could have the child record behind the scenes and link it without an assigned job number...

    What I'm trying to do is pull up the job number and the fields from the update tables so I can see some of the job info while I'm updating.
    Last edited by eboughey1; 11-14-2008 at 12:51 AM.
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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    I guess maybe I don't understand what your "update" tables are? Are they the job log, etc. tabs you have shown. Is there more than one update table?

    You can have a child link to the parent based on the UID field - not the job number. As I mentioned the UID field is never shown to the user. So, you would have a UID field in the master called UID and then in the child have a field called chlduid so you can have a unique identifier for every record in the child table. How do you know exactly what child record you need to work on without a unique identifier? It is tough - you can use record number but that can change if you pack the table. If you have 5 child records and link on job number then there is nothing that uniquely identifies every child record. That is where a UID field comes in.

    So, back to your question about how to link. You have a UID field in your parent and both a UID field and then a field called something like MstrUID(this is the field that relates to the parent UID). You can set up your set to link the child MstrUID field to the Parent UID field. Then when you are doing your "update" data entry you do not even need the job number in the child because it is already linked using the UID field.

    Even if you are not interested in using the UID method. If the job log etc. tabs are children of some type of job master table. You can still link on job number using grids and a tabbed grid linker components.

    Regards,

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    What I think you mean is you bring up a Job, which already has an ID. You then want to add one or more related records to this Job and need to get the Job ID from the current job record, in to that new child record.

    I've done this in two ways. The first method is only useful if there are only one child record for any parent record (multipel children, but only one record each, one-to-one relationships). Here I create blank child records at the same time I create the parent record, even though I won't be filling in the detail for the child record for some time. That might take place in a dialog where I a) create the parent record and let it set an autoincrement ID value, b) grab that new ID value, c) create child records using that ID as the foreign ID to the parent table.

    The second method is to stuff the parent ID in to a session variable while displaying that record. Then when a child record is saved, include this in the BeforeValidateNewRecords event:

    Code:
    function BeforeValidateNewRecords as v (DataSubmitted as P, Args as p, PageVariables as p)
    with PageVariables
    	DataSubmitted.job_id = session.job_id
    end with
    end function
    I know I should revisit, but I have never used a grid linker in any application. But I think you can use that method to ensure your child additions include the linking value to the parent.
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Any new tools for migrating desktop to web?

    I love how a thread or e-mail title become nothing at all about the last batch of posts. Not really - it drives me nuts that new concepts are not re-started with appropriate titling and some how related to a question that a person might actually search.

    Anyway - back to the original question. Before I became a convert to A5, I was using Filemaker9 Pro. Not saying it would be the most sophisticated web app you could build, but it got the job done, the pages loaded fast, and they looked like the desktop app. So why did I convert? Licensing cost! The ownership costs vs users budget, FM9 was pricing itself out of the running, even with their "educational" versions. So the answer is, in my opinion, yes, there is a migrating tool, but you'll need to do some research to see if it fits your (clients) particular need and budget. Also, a developer at work informs me that Access now plays well with SharePoint, if you want to stay in the Microsoft camp. Works on intranet, hooked to LDAP and all.

    Dave
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