MSc Information Technology
Software Engineer at Sinesy srl (Italy)
Sun Certified Enterprise Architect for JEE 5
Titanium Certified App Developer
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A free solution to very common needs

10.28.2013
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How many times did your organization have the need to create simple applications to use internally?

Enterprise applications are very common in any company, independently of the working area, including applications such as holidays request forms, working times, meeting rooms booking or, by and large, organization resources booking.

These are just a few samples of typical entities to manage within a company. In the past, most of these needs have been faced using fast development products such as MS Access.

The limits of such a kind of tools are well known to anyone: it is a single-user app, it can be only accessed locally, it cannot be used with a very large amount of data.

It is possible to find several open source solutions that try to overcome these issues: many of them nowadays have a web interface, they are multi-user applications and are based on the most popular development platforms, like .NET, JEE or PHP, just to mention the most common ones.

The problem with these free solutions is basically that they seem to be good at the beginning, when the company is trying to deal with basic requirements. After a while, it is likely that requirements change, GUI becomes more complex as well as the business logic, for instance because it is no more involving a simple SQL statement to show a list of data.
Performance issues could also arise, if the chosen platform has not been optimized for scalability, high availability and more in general, to work with large number of records. 

This eventually leads to abandon this products, because they are considered too limited to face with the everyday tasks and activities to manage inside the company.

In this article a new open source platform is proposed: 4WS.Platform. This solution differs from many others, especially because it has been designed to take into account the limits reported above, since it allows to graphically design the business logic and the user interface.

Moreover, custom code can be always embedded into the rest of the web application. In this way there is no virtually limit in the level of complexity of the application under creation.

In addition, almost all alternative products are based on a specific o.s and database: 4WS.Platform is based on Java, the whole solution could be run on a stack of free software, including Linux, Java, Tomcat and the product itself.

The database connected to the product can be any of the most common: Oracle, SQLServer, MySQL, PostgreSQL.

Last but not least, skills required to create an application are significantly limited, as it was for Access in the past, and consequently, the development time is dramatically reduced as well. 

More details about the product can be found in the web site  linked to the solution, hosted on sourceforge web portal.

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Published at DZone with permission of its author, Mauro Carniel.

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