Pervasive Computing - Manufacturing Supplier Modernises Mobile Sales Force

Background - The client, a large London-based museum, was encountering difficulty in distributing vital accounting information to a set of users that were dependent on multiple hardware platforms and operating systems. Triton Consulting were approached and asked to advise the client on a suitable technical architecture that would allow users to access accounts data held in an Informix data source from Web browsers on multiple client PCs and Macintoshes.

Application Requirements - An online interface was required to allow users to browse accounts data from a Chameleon 2000 accounts package without using the accounts package itself. Access was to be provided via predetermined SQL statements executing against the underlying Informix tables used by the package. Simple SQL statements had been coded by the client, but would require optimisation before being incorporated into the final solution. The existing method of distributing this information was for an accountant using MS Query to manually execute SQL statements against Informix via ODBC from a Windows client. The results were then pasted into an Excel spreadsheet and distributed in hard copy form. This solution was complex, time consuming and not tailored to individual user requirements. It was also highly dependent on a given hardware platform and operating system, which meant that some users did not have access to the information.

User Expectations - Users of the application required a simple, intuitive interface from a Web browser which allowed them to interrogate accounts data without the need to use the Chameleon 2000 user interface. The users did not have Chameleon expertise, nor did they wish to learn the package. The information they required resided in the Informix tables Chameleon used as its back end data store and the requirement was for this to be presented to them in a form they could readily understand. The users had no wish to use personal productivity software (e.g. MS Excel) or native SQL tools (e.g. MS Query via ODBC).

Technical Environment Server - Informix version 5 (runtime only) on HP9000 hardware running HPUX and CERN Web server. Clients - Intel PC clients running Windows 95 or Windows NT 3.5.1 using Netscape Navigator Web browser clients (V2 or later) Data - Chameleon 2000 accounts system, storing data in Informix version 5 RDBMS. Conclusions The client accepted the recommended technical architecture, which addressed all of their requirements. Implementation to the recommended technical architecture was completed very successfully.

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