3/01/2005

Web Application Concept

I've had an idea for a while now (4-6months) of building a web application that would really extend the boundaries - much more so than gmail, google maps, flickr etc. The idea involves combining the power of web databases with rich web interfaces to provide a number of important tasks.

Just for a moment imagine yourself as the manager of a small business that has several IT requirements:
  • Keeping IT infrastructure costs low
  • Managing inventory of products
  • Communicating with customers through email
  • An online store to sell inventory
In addition your staff does not have an IT background, but is still adept with typical office and internet operations.

Current Solution
As the manager of this business you have two main options.
  1. Employ some additional staff to build from scratch or modify off the shelf software to achieve the various requirements
  2. Locate an external contractor to come in and build said requirements, charging two arms and two legs
These two options are very expensive for any small business, but could provide significant enhancement to the business. Especially reducing costs through using an online store and providing enhanced communication with customers via email lists etc.

Alternative Solution
Using the power of existing web technologies the manager of the business mentioned above could use an online business management service. He/She could login to www.mybusiness.com and use an online application to assist building the requirements already outlined.

The application would be similar to Dreamweaver / MS Access being run through a web browser. I could select "New" from a file menu and select from a number of pre-built templates:
  • Online store
  • Inventory manager
  • Mailing list centre
Each of these templates would provide a stock database structure with well established relationships and a corresponding templated web interface. Using a MS Access like interface the user could manipulate the database to add fields specific to their industry, ideally including some business logic. Perhaps they could employ an external contractor for this (cost wouldn't be prohibitive). Next they move to an "Interface" tab where they use a Dreamweaver like interface to restructure the look and feel of their online store - in addition adding support for the new elements now in the database.

Almost overnight this business is now able to do business over the internet, track customers purchasing habits and send emails to regular customers with the latest specials. Additionally the organisation could use very cheap computers (1-2Ghz era) on any Operating System (no MS licensing fees) to run their whole business through a web interface.

Problems
I have only very briefly outlined this application without going into too much detail. The complexities in building a desktop application such as Dreamweaver are quite large, let alone trying to do it within a web browser environment.

A lot of working I've been doing has revolved around DHTML with XMLHttpRequest communication, but I doubt that could really withstand such a complex application. Some sort of Flash/XUL basis would probably be much better suited to the task

3 Comments:

Blogger CloCkWeRX said...

Forget flash, and go with the bleeding edge, but I-don't-love-macromedia solution: Firefox-SVG. It's a pretty buggy nightly, and a lot of the examples in the wild don't work (as they are SVG 1.0 and a bit crappy), but the fact I can play tetris... Well I just think that's cool.

3:07 PM  
Blogger tahpot said...

Lol: Tetris is cool

I agree about Firefox-SVG - that is the bleeding edge and it would be cool (and forwards thinking) to use it.
Flash provides the benefit of a large market share that obviously Firefox-SVG doesn't have. The decision on what to use would be based on the intended user. If it is possible to install FF-SVG on their machine. I'd expect yes, but you immediately introduce an extra step both in deployment and support.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Mud's Tests said...

tahpot,

Great job in getting FeedTagger up so quickly. You may have some interest in providing support.

I noticed you had mentioned Kw = module; thought you might want a heads up on something getting kicked around. Also, this is linked on the Yahoo Search Developer's Network. If those are of interest, there are more.

Good luck with your development! Again, great job!

11:21 AM  

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