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Looking for development advice

I have an accounting application written in BASIC. Needless to say I'm am losing customers to "windows" apps. Several years ago, we made the decision to rewrite all the modules to run as web apps. We did a lot of research, but ultimately ended up with php because the customer willing to fund the project had a relationship with a web development co and that's what they recommended. We hired a web programmer and entered into a joint venture to develop the new software. The idea was to remain platform independent, since our BASIC app runs on *nix or Windows.

The modules included in our BASIC app are fully integrated. They include Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, General Ledger, Payroll, Purchasing, Inventory Control, and Order Entry.

After nearly two years and no complete modules, the customer cancelled the contract and went with an off the shelf package. My developer went with the web development co. Subsequently my other two programmers went their own way. So I am left with these questions:

Was PHP/PostGreSQL a good choice?

Can this project ever be completed?

How do I know if the code I have is any good?

How long should it take for a good programmer to get to a beta level on a module?

Our current app includes record locking in a multi-user environment to prevent two users from updating the same record simultaneously. How possible is that with PostGres?

I have no experience with HTML, PHP or any of the modern languages. I have been fortunate enough to earn a living programming in the same language for 27 years. How long would it take me to become reasonably proficient?

Any advice/comments would be appreciated.
Nov 23 '06 #1
2 1051
drhowarddrfine
7,435 Expert 4TB
Was PHP/PostGreSQL a good choice?
Can this project ever be completed?
Yes and yes.
To become proficient in the other languages depends on you. HTML is easy. PHP is somewhat similar to C. If you know C, then it's easy, if you dive into it.

Two years to convert a BASIC program to PHP? Seems kind of long since you needed it quicker than that. They should have been able to produce something usable but it depends on how big the program is.
Nov 23 '06 #2
Thank you for your reply.

I do not know C. Really, the only language I have used professionally is BASIC. I have done some UNIX shell scripting. I have looked at the code these guys have written and can get around enough to make changes, but wonder if I could ever whip out a program as quickly as I do now. In BASIC, all the I/O, the display, the filehandling is in one "program". There seem to be an infinite number of "pages" to accomplish the same task in HTML/PHP.

We thought two years was a bit extreme, too. But really there were only two programmers working on it fulltime. I think they spent a good deal of time trying to create reusable code, but when they got ready to use it again, it needed a little tweaking to fit there, which broke the first program, etc, etc.

It is hard for me to guess how many actual BASIC programs are in the whole accounting application. The module that is closest to completion in PHP is the GL (General Ledger). Just to give you an idea of what we are up against, this is the menu from GL. Items 8 and 9 go to sub-menus, one with 7 items, one with 3. Each if the FILE MAINTENANCE programs includes a list option.


G E N E R A L L E D G E R M A I N M E N U

FILE MAINTENANCE
1. CHART OF ACCOUNTS
2. BUDGETS
3. FUND
4. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS FORMAT FILE
5. SET UP NEW FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
6. OBJECT CODE

DATA ENTRY
7. JOURNAL ENTRY
8. BUDGET PREPARATION
9. RECURRING JOURNALS

10. ACCOUNTS PAYABLE

PERIODIC PROCEDURES
11. JOURNAL PROOF
12. JOURNAL POSTING
13. G/L TRANSACTION VALIDATION
14. JOURNAL REVERSAL
15. OPEN NEW YEAR
16. YEAR-END CLOSING
17. JOURNAL RE-CREATION

REPORTING
18. DETAILED GENERAL LEDGER
19. SUMMARY VOUCHER
20. FINANCIAL STATEMENT PREPARATION
21. FINANCIAL STATEMENT PRINT
22. MANAGER'S REPORT
23. ACCOUNTS OVER BUDGET
24. ACCOUNT INQUIRY
25. AUDITOR'S WORKSHEET

SELECT (0=END) :


The biggest struggle we have had in the whole process has been printing. We discussed the whole browser vs thin client thing before we started since it so hard to control what the print from the browser will look like depending on user settings. That is bad enough on reports and lists, but what to do about forms - like checks, invoices, etc.? In our BASIC software, we address the printer directly; ie OPEN FILE (0),"\\server\printer", and I have designed forms in PCL code; or we can print on preprinted forms. We control paging, font, etc directly. The programmers we had seemed not to be able to directly access the printers. We found some pdf solutions, but most of them were either cumbersome or expensive. What I really want when we print is for the report to look as if it came from Crysal Reports, rather than like someone hit the "print" button on a web page.

Thanks for any insights anyone is willing to share.
Nov 25 '06 #3

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