Clipper DBF database files on the Web
Author: Rich Dlin, CTO and Vice
Our company was forced to migrate our legacy Clipper applications to Windows. With almost 500 installations of our software at the time, and given that our software package was almost six years old at that time meant that we had clients with six years worth of accumulated data. We could not afford to have our clients suffer any degradation in performance, or reliability, as a result of the move to Windows.
We eventually standardized on Delphi as our development platform. After about a month of working with Borland's BDE, it became clear that we needed to replace the BDE. After researching various solutions at that time, we standardized on Apollo. Months later and days of benchmark tests in hand, it was clear that the only way to give our clients the performance they were accustomed to under Clipper was to use Apollo with Delphi. Looking back it was an excellent decision that has reinforced time and again.
Our main application is a Windows point-of-sale package designed specifically for beauty spas and hair salons. It currently has an installation base of over 1,000 sites, uses a database consisting of 72 tables, with some tables having over 1,000,000 records. Our application is used in a variety of environments including single station, Windows peer-to-peer configurations, Novell NetWare and Windows NT networks. For the most part, client usage ranges form single user to 20 workstations running on Windows NT. In each of these environments, our Delphi/Apollo application manages the speed requirements demanded of a service-oriented point-of-sale package.
A few months ago, our clients began asking us to deliver a web-based solution that would allow their customers' to book appointments over the Internet. The challenge was an interesting one and we were presented with the following issues:
With these parameters, we took a close look at the Apollo Database Server, with its promise of built-in Internet connectivity. We contacted ApolloDB for guidance and eventually hired them to help us understand how to use the various Apollo and web technologies. As it turned out, the key to building our solution was to make extensive use of the built-in Server DLL technology in Apollo Database Server (Note: Server DLLs were formerly called Stored Procedures).
We installed the Apollo Database Server and proceeded to develop several Server DLLs that harnessed our existing application's business logic. We combined our legacy code with the Apollo Server's IP technology and within in a couple days, had a full-blown web-solution that allowed clients to make appointments in real time, from anywhere in the world.
In just over one month, we were able to develop and deliver a complete web-based solution. In addition to the new excitement of having a new state-of-the-art system, we were very pleased, and surprised, when essentially all of our existing tried-and-true legacy code was left untouched. Here are some of the highlights:
Using this new web-based solution, our client's customers can book an appointment on-line in real-time both at the salon and at the consumer site, including the e-mail verification using Apollo ASP's built-in QuickMail.
Without Apollo Database Server's Server DLL feature, we would still be deep in the development phase some six months later. In closing, I want to extend our thanks to the ApolloDB team, specifically to Med and Anthony, for developing such great products and for helping us with our specific development needs. I would highly recommend Apollo and Apollo Database Server for anybody doing database development.
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