Machine Learning Authors: William Schmarzo, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Jnan Dash

Related Topics: Machine Learning , Java IoT, Silverlight

Machine Learning : Blog Post

No New Skills or Training Required

Single developer builds tourism costing system’s web UI using basic VB6 skills

For more than a decade, Interface Systems Group (ISG) has been providing hospitality and travel solutions. The company focuses on medium size ERP solutions and projects for the hospitality sector, with a company's competitive advantage of their comprehensive solutions which provide CRM, Booking, Point-of-Sale, Event Management, Accounting, Inventory, Telephony, IVRS and integrated Websites, all under one roof.

ISG always looks to update and upgrade its ERP solutions to the latest technologies available. Dhruv is a tour costing system that was designed for a tour operator which provides custom-designed holidays to their clients. The product has been developed using Visual WebGui and uses MS SQL 2005 as the database. The solution integrates into the client's CRM that was developed by another vendor and uses PHP and MySQL. Most of the application is in 3-tier and uses NHibernate. 

Business needs
Each tour or holiday consists of various elements such as accommodation, travel, sightseeing, etc. Those details and their costs provided by suppliers are entered into the system which then automatically calculates the sell price for the holiday. The representative who uses the system can then book the holiday and collect the payment. These sales representatives formerly worked with Excel spreadsheets, which was often prone to user errors and, more importantly, the constant changes in pricing and costs often did not feed in correctly to the systems downstream (Accounts, CRM, MIS).

As a result there was a need for a system that would allow users to dynamically create packages while connected to the CRM (for client details). They sought a system that would allow the staffers to enter cost details with supplier information and present the quote. It also needed the ability to keep multiple versions for the same quotation and account for different currencies, as well as to keep track of any changes made to the itinerary and/or cost after it has been booked.

In addition, the system needed to use the company rules to compute a recommended selling price and allow conversion a quotation to a booking when required. On top of that, it had to be able to share information in real-time with MIS and Accounting so that any quote or order is updated in the system and any subsequent changes to price or cost are synchronized. In that case, it was necessary that the system be integrated into the existing web based CRM and served as a web application as well.

Since the application was intended to run online, performance was an important issue. Keeping waiting time under 5 seconds when moving between forms of the quotation or booking was a key factor to this data centric application which was specified to use grids wherever applicable. 

The Solution
With only minimal funds available, a single developer was allocated for the main part of this project. The developer, who had an extensive experience in developing in VB6, would have some support available from two additional developers with the business and data layers. Thus, a solution that would allow building web applications while utilizing the existing VB6 skills as much as possible was sought. Visual WebGui seemed the best fit as it allows building web applications using VB6-like development patterns. "Visual WebGui was easy to get acquainted and got me started with building an architectural plan within few working days. On execution it was satisfying to see a web application coming through faster than expected," said the CEO Rajeev Jha.

The smooth shift to Visual WebGui and building web applications was successful due to the native simplicity of Visual WebGui as well as the extensive support available from Visual WebGui.

With regards to integrating the application which uses MS SQL 2005 with the client's CRM and Database (written in PHP using MySQL) SOA methods were discussed. But it was eventually decided to integrate by sharing the database schema with each other and usage of temporary tables. e.g. Both systems get the data in read-only mode for pick-up/lookup, but use temporary tables to allow for updating each other's database. 

Completing the development of the web based tour costing system according to the original specifications was made possible due to Visual WebGui's Windows over Web approach that allowed developing a web application using VB6-like development paradigms. This was crucial since the single developer allocated to the project was a desktop developer, experienced in VB6 and had practically no web development experience at all. 

"Not only did the Visual WebGui VB6-like development experience contribute to achieving a web application which would have been difficult or impossible to do otherwise, but it was also done fairly easy," said Rajeev Jha.  He also added that "the ease of designing a web page in Visual WebGui is unmatched to any other web solution I have evaluated." The amount of time this exact project would have taken using ASP.net cannot even be estimated due to the developer's lack of experience in developing web. It is certain however, that the development time would have been significantly longer. "The overall development process took a bit longer than what it would have taken with WinForms, but in the end I got a web application!" said Rajeev Jha.

Using Visual WebGui allowed the company to easily bind data especially since the VB6 developer had never used controls in a data-bound way. "I was aware that in ASP.Net it is needed to bind custom classes to the control, but had heard it is quite painful. Luckily, with Visual WebGui I didn't have to implement it since I didn't directly develop in ASP.Net. As a result, I found data-binding to be fairly simple and to work well with Visual WebGui," commented Rajeev Jha.

One of the key requirements and concerns with building the solution as a web based application was performance and response time as it was being compared internally to a similar desktop application. In addition, the system uses an ORM (NHibernate) which added to the performance concerns. Due to the Visual WebGui runtime, the deployed product performs well over the original "Keeping waiting time under 5 seconds" requirement and overall shows great results in terms of performance with approximately 20 concurrent users at the moment.

More Stories By Josh Litvin

Yaniv Yehuda is the Co-Founder and CTO of DBmaestro, an Enterprise Software Development Company focusing on database development and deployment technologies. Yaniv is also the Co-Founder and the head of development for Extreme Technology, an IT service provider for the Israeli market. Yaniv was a captain in Mamram, the Israel Defense Forces computer centers where he served as a software engineering manager.

@CloudExpo Stories
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.