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Need advice on a browser-accessible database platform (Access sucks)


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#1 ammobake

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Posted 20 September 2014 - 06:23 PM

Does anyone know what would work good as an online/browser-accessible database (for tracking of daily reports, quality control, etc..).

 

The company I work for uses an old, clunky access database on Microsoft Access 2010.

 

The database is used by about 5 or 6 different people but more than one person can not use it at any given time because it causes alot of problems.

 

This particular database has been around in our company for a long time and whenever we've needed to create a new one, we did.  This old database has alot of problems and our company wants to use new forms that aren't programmed in to the existing database.

 

Up to this point we've just dealt with it being problematic because it works - sort of.

 

Training people is very difficult with the old access database also just because how it works is confusing - to the point of being ridiculous.

 

Plus, anytime we want to add new users to the database it has to be programmed in to the user tables first.  What a nightmare.

 

More importantly, the company wants a database platform that can be used throughout the company (by multiple people at once).

 

Microsoft Access - to my knowledge - wouldn't work as a platform.  You can install an Access 2010 database on a server and have it accessible through a web browser but it requires a certain kind of server config.

 

A config that our company doesn't have...

 

So I'm trying to figure out what would work for multiple people at once, be accessible through a web browers (by any device), and something that I could program to be able to write data to some of our company forms if possible.

 

Any ideas would be helpful.

 

Thank you!!

 

-ChriS

 

 

 



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#2 kokomodrums

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Posted 20 September 2014 - 07:37 PM

MySQL is probably the most ubiquitous web database platform. Setting up a database is easy, the difficult part is finding or creating a front-end for users to actually use the database, also known as a CRUD interface: Create, Read, Update, Delete.
 
PHP is probably the most popular programming language for accessing MySQL, considering they are both part of the standard LAMP stack (Linux [Server OS] / Apache [Web server] / MySQL [Database] / PHP [Programming]).
 
If you don't want to set up a real linux server, there are easy Windows-based alternatives like XAMPP. It's a cross-platform "LAMP" stack you could run on an existing Windows machine.
 
Hopefully that gives you a good start!

Edited by kokomodrums, 20 September 2014 - 07:43 PM.

-- Matt


#3 ammobake

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Posted 21 September 2014 - 03:04 PM

Thanks a bunch!  I'm looking at that right now.

 

I probably forgot to mention why I'm looking to get a usable database in browser-accessible format.  We need it to work on smartphones and ipads also.

 

Our company has made an investment in tablets to use in the field.  They basically gave this project to me and said - "you can make this work right?".....

 

They didn't really think it through at all.  The management said "I want the database to work on ipads in the field", then they went out and bought a boat-load of ipads.

 

That's a great notion but they don't have any idea what they have stepped in.  They want it to work, period.  So I think this is the only option.

 

The database we have just won't work. 

Elsewhere in the company alot of this work is done manually without a database which is why I've been tasked with this. They want a company-wide platform. 

 

Microsoft Office has a new suite that you can activate on ipads and iphones (newer apple devices) in the settings and then you have to purchase a subscription to the service with Microsoft to be able to save any files/data with those programs.

 

But to get a network-wide database working that multiple people can access at once wouldn't work with that platform unless we paid for an unlimited license subscription with Microsoft.  And that's assuming we could even get the existing platform reprogrammed to a usable format - which, trust me, it is too far gone and not worth it.

 

A browser-accessible database that multiple people can use at once - I know it will work just need to narrow down the options.  I can do all the programming myself.

 

Thanks!!

 

-ChriS



#4 kokomodrums

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Posted 21 September 2014 - 07:50 PM

If they are going to need access outside of your LAN, you'll either need to setup a public web server, a VPN (and figure how to connect iPads to a VPN...), or I guess you could get away with port forwarding to a Windows machine running XAMPP, but it sounds to me like the scale of your operation might need a dedicated server.

You could also just look into dedicated hosting or cloud hosting. If your company already has a web server, or pays for web hosting (what business doesn't have a website these days?), you could just host the database on your existing web server. The main issue is setting up a secure web portal to access the database, and of course programming the UI.

I do have experience setting up these types of web apps, although I've always set up LAN-only web servers--I haven't had a big enough client who needed WAN access...yet...

Let me know if you need any advice or tips, you can even PM me if you want.

Good luck!

-- Matt


#5 ammobake

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 06:51 PM

Thanks I'm actually looking at cloud hosting at this point.

 

I was able to track down a company that can make our custom database per our specifications.  But being browser-accessible is going to be a big win.

 

Ease of use is a big deal for us and being able to have more than one person using the database at a time.

There were alot of issues we had to work around and the old platform just isn't ready to go "prime time".  I don't think it ever was.

But this database platform has to work company-wide on any device or computer no matter where they are.  Browser-accesibility makes that possible.

 

There are a few companies that do web-based databases like this - Intuit Quickbase, Caspio, lighstpoke, among many others....

 

Even if I would have been able to properly configure the old database and make it web-accessible, the learning curve would be unreasonable and we would basically be acting as IT support when it came time for implementation.  People even properly trained have problems so it just wouldn't have ever worked out.

 

There would still have been just way too much confusion.

 

These companies I've mentioned have tools that let you custom make your own web-based, hosted databases yourself (without having to code anything).  Or they can custom make it to your specifications just depending on how you choose to approach it.

 

-ChriS



#6 ammobake

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Posted 06 October 2014 - 03:01 PM

Just wanted to say I've decided to go with Intuit Quickbase.

 

It's a pretty amazing platform.  The greatest part is that there are no additional programs or apps to install on anything.

 

Because of that, there are no compatability issues to deal with and it will always work on any device - phone, tablet, pc - as long as there is an internet connection.

 

It also gives our management team the ability to break the database down by region and see what has been reported and what hasn't.

 

So far everyone here is excited.  It looks like this will go company-wide and make alot of people's lives alot easier.

 

They can do reports in the field if they want.  No more taking notes in the field, the doing the reports back at the office.

 

And Intuit provides all the tech support and cloud hosting - so we don't have to run a huge platform like this on our own servers, bogging everything down.

 

-Chris






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