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Best solution for offline database application?

4075 Views 4 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  galahad3

I've been asked to build a database application for a construction company, which will do a number of things:

1. Store new client details that are inputted
2. Have the ability to create a new job from a template (again, which will be inputted into the database)
3. Bring up all payments e.g by a particular client, and between specified dates if need be (and other criteria as applicable)
4. Provide simple tax calculations, for example tax on the labor component of a payment
5. Generate invoices for jobs within the database
6. Link tables together (if multiple tables are needed?)
7. Store client accounts (individual projects and overall)
8. Generate monthly reports monthly report
9. Have an expense account module (for items purchased by directors, requiring reimbursement from the company)
10. An individual project module showing purchases, profit/loss, fees, costs and wages of any given project and as many report options as possible.

I was thinking of making it an online db so I could build with PHP/mySQL, but there's no real need for it to be online, so was thinking of an application for offline build.

It must also be able to work with MS Word (e.g bring up a Word doc template for an estimate, which can be filled in and placed in the db), and especially easily exported to Excel.

So I was thinking Access might be ideal, but will it do all the above?

Any ideas as to other database apps which would do a better job?
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Hi galahad,

Yes Access can easily do all the things you listed. The big question is how easily can you get Access to do all those things. That is a pretty big project you described that will require a substantial design phase to lay out all the data relationships properly, just to start.

Everything you listed is also typical aspects of a business for which vendors have created customizable products. I think it would be well worth your while to look at some off the shelf, customizable packages first. With those products your efforts are geared towards configuring an existing framework to the customers needs, as opposed to recreating the entire framework plus configuring it to their needs.

hope that helps,
Thanks for the reply. The reason I'm wary of the off the shelf packages is that the client really wants something that will (for example) allow them to have their own precise forms with their custom chosen fields, their own logo and corporate look and feel, and also be something that in the fullness of time they may be able to edit the backend of themselves- i.e something we have created from source.

But it's good news that Access can do all this. I guess the first phase (and probably the most challenging!) has to be building and designing the table relationships...

Off the shelf apps are an option that are often overlooked in these situations. They are definitely not for everyone and if a client consciously decides to go the custom app development route it is often far more expensive but should be far more rewarding. The first part is to identify what the output/goals will need to be to satisfy managements needs. Then you can begin to identify all the data that will be needed to generate those outputs and support those goals. While you are identifying the data, capture the type (alpha, numeric, boolean, date), min and max sizes and any other constraints and quantity of records involved. Once that's all gathered, you can organize it into relational tables and normalize it. That should give you a good idea of the size of the database you will be working with, which will help identify a suitable platform to handle the processing. Without knowing more about their business and how they want to use this, it's hard to recommend anything. You could be looking at Internet or Intranet based forms with an Access or SQL backend, or a LAN based app with Access front end and Access or SQL backend. There are a lot of possibilities. I just can't overstate the value of doing a thorough analysis to create the design. Talk to everyone in the chain from top management down to the people doing data entry. The end user's will always identify something that management overlooks or deems unimportant and knowing that up front will save countless hours of rewrites and corrections. It sounds like they are asking for a seven course meal so be prepared to be in the kitchen for quite awhile.
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Thanks for the detailed reply- I'll go through each of the fields andf their possible values / sizes etc. and design based on that.

I think the total number of records initially will be about 1500, so not huge by any means although of course it will grow with time.
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