Desktop Applications - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote

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Velocity in the demand for new applications and functionality rises as businesses grow. As a developer, you are expected to rapidly respond to these needs. Over the years, desktop database and spreadsheet tools have enormously contributed to data management due to the ease and user friendliness these applications extend to their audience. Besides benefits, these applications have scalability and functionality limitations that not only results in dozens of different applications and data sources but also adds extra overhead in their maintenance. Due to these issues, organizations are unable to continue their standard practices, leaving mission-critical data at risk. These fragmented systems may also cause loss of business opportunity. Finally, a significant amount of time and resource is required to put these data blocks together to get the desired information. In addition to above, the following points provide some more drawbacks of desktop applications:

Installation of client software, such as Excel or run-time binaries, on every machine.
Lack of data sharing with other applications.
Simultaneous data access inability in spreadsheets.
May not be the part of regular data backup.
Critical and confidential data can easily be moved via email or pocket storage devices.
With the above deficiencies, it is clear that you need a tool that has the capability to cope with these shortfalls and extends the following features:

Central management of data and applications.
No installation of software is required on client machines; the only requirement is a supported browser.
Shared development and application access.
Being central, data and applications become a part of regular backup procedure.
Data and application access control; empowered by audit trail.
If you want to develop and deploy fast and secure professional applications then you must go for a rapid application development (RAD) tool. A RAD tool only requires a web browser and a little programming experience. Besides ease of use and flexibility, RAD tool provides the qualities of an enterprise database, scalability, security, integrity, availability and above all the web development experience.

With a RAD tool you can develop any application through an easy declarative development process. However, you can use HTML and CSS to extend the presentation of your client interfaces and add your own code to supply additional logical operations. With such tools, you can build applications that report on database data. Create hyper text linked reports to easily link to other reports, charts, and data entry forms. Charts have built-in drill-down functionality, so that a user can get more detailed information on any of the sections of the chart with a simple mouse click. You can effectively communicate data using the charting engine by presenting SQL queries graphically. Use declarative form controls including shuttles, text editors, date pickers, checkboxes, radio groups, and select lists to manipulate data. Easily and instantly build opportunistic and departmental database applications with the help of simple wizards. This makes RAD tools a natural replacement for multi-user desktop database applications and allows creation of highly professional, secure, and scalable applications without scripting languages and complex frameworks.

These tools provide a declarative programming environment, which means that no code is generated or compiled during development. You just interact through wizards and property sheets to build SQL-based reporting applications on existing database schemas. Reports and charts are defined with simple SQL queries, so some knowledge of SQL is very helpful. Besides, if procedural logic is needed, you can also write your own custom code. These declarative tools have a vast collection of pre-defined wizards, HTML objects, database handling utilities, page rendering and submission processes, navigation and branching options, and more. You can use all these options to build your database-centric web applications comprising web pages carrying forms, reports, charts, etc., with their layouts and business logic. The back-end engine translates it all into an HTML code for the client side, and SQL and custom code for the server side. If you do not get a solution from predefined options, you are allowed to create your own code for the server side, and HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code, for the client side.

Web applications are quickly taking over conventional desktop counterparts. A web application is an application that is accessed by users over a network such as the Internet or an intranet. It is an application software that is coded in a browser-supported programming language (such as JavaScript, combined with a browser-rendered markup language like HTML) and dependent on a common web browser to render the application. The popularity of web applications is due to the ubiquity of web browsers, which is the only requirement to access such applications. Another major reason behind the popularity of web applications is the ability to update and maintain these applications without distributing and installing software on potentially thousands of client devices.

Developing Web applications can be a real challenge as it's a multidisciplinary process. You have to be proficient in all the core technologies involved such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript on the client side; PHP or any other scripting language to interact with the database on the server side. Also, you've to take into account the type-less nature of the Web environment and above all, the need to put it all together in a manner that will allow the end users to execute their jobs efficiently and in a simplified manner.

RAD tools provide a hosted declarative development environment for developing and deploying database-centric web applications. They accelerate the application development process by providing built-in features such as user interface themes, navigational controls, form handlers, and flexible reports that off-loads the extra burden of proficiency acquisition in the core technologies.

Declarative development is the most significant feature of any RAD tool which makes it a good choice for rapid application development. Most of the tasks are performed with the help of built-in wizards that help you create different application pages. Each wizard walks you through the process of defining what you are expecting to achieve. After getting the input, the wizard data is stored as metadata in relevant back-end database tables. Later on, you can call page definition to modify or enhance the metadata to give your page the desired look. You can even add more functionalities by putting your own custom code. The back-end engine renders applications in real time using the metadata. When you create or extend an application, the metadata stored in database tables is created or modified. When the application is run, the metadata is referred to display the application.

Another hefty feature provided in the current RAD tools is the ability to create applications for mobile devices. Content to these devices are delivered through jQuery Mobile that is incorporated in these tools. To create mobile-based interface, specific themes are added to the collection that support mobile page transitions such as swipe, tap, and so on. These themes are provided with responsive design capability. With this design, content is adjusted according to different screen dimensions and provides same user interface for desktop, tablet, and smartphones.

Rapid web application development is the need of the hour. Coupled with mobile development, this platform will definitely aid the over burdened business professionals, facing increasing time constraints, to increase their productivity by enabling them to work from anywhere at any time. These applications will make the busy community more effective as the features they carry allow people of high cadre to stay informed and take correct in-time decisions even sitting away from their desks.

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