FlexiDB

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brief

FlexiDB approached us requesting the implementation of an interactive online database design and deployment platform. The proposed project is aimed at small to medium sized companies that require web and/or mobile device data applications that are appropriate for capturing and managing business data and associated workflows.

A primary objective of the FlexiDB system was to enable “non-developer” end-users to create fully functional software solutions that fulfil their business needs. To achieve this goal Simple Answers proposed an intuitive database designer that utilises a visual drag and drop design methodology to build a database system. The FlexiDB system will automate the creation of the database and ensure it optimally configured and ready for use.

Creating and deploying the database is only half the solution, what remains is the application logic required to implement workflows for facilitating business processes. To support this requirement the system would need to provide a suite of user friendly tools that facilitate implementation of the application logic. The FlexiDB system required the following tools; form designer, task manager, task scheduler, deployment manager, user manager, role management, report designer, and more. Providing a comprehensive suite of tools means the FlexiDB solution provides a formidable framework that empowers end users to build powerful business orientated solutions.

The FlexiDB solution would need to be capable of deploying to both Web and Mobile Device technologies. To achieve these business goals the following system requirements were formulated:

  • WordPress is the world’s most popular web change management system (CMS). FlexiDB will introduce new database design and system implementation capabilities to the WordPress community.
  • PhoneGAP is a world leading cross-platform mobile app development framework. FlexiDB will utilise the PhoneGAP framework enabling mobile device deployment options to be supported.

Supporting the above deployment capabilities means it will be a quick and easy task for end users to create a website and a mobile app that is data enabled and supports their business processes. At the time of this writing no such solution exists, hence the reason why FlexiDB is a truly innovative project.

process

Simple Answers solutions architects worked closely with FlexiDB stakeholders to identify the key requirements of their system. We proceeded to design a system architecture that supported all requested requirements and proposed several enhancements that were subsequently adopted.

We advised our client to adopt the “Lean” product development methodology because the principles are focused on achieving quality, speed & customer alignment. In a nutshell, Lean says to eliminate anything that isn’t adding business value and only work on what is absolutely required to be achieved at the current moment in time. This approach means the team focuses on delivering business value objectives in the shortest possible duration.

The Simple Answers team worked closely with the client through all stages of the software development lifecycle. We ensured the client was integrated into the development team therefore enabling them to test and review the software whilst it was being implemented. At the end of every development iteration (typically 3~4 weeks) the development team would formally present a fully functional version of the system to stakeholders and discuss enhancements. Our approach to software development guaranteed client satisfaction because they were able to revise business requirements and steer the project throughout the entire development lifecycle.

technologies/ tools used

PHP, PhoneGAP, WordPress, Polymer, REST, Angular.js, RabbitMQ, APMQ, JQuery, JavaScript, HTML 5, DHTML, CSS, SASS, Linux

result

The FlexiDB solution is technically and commercially a total success. The software fully delivers on the requirements as defined at the outset of the project. FlexiDB is an innovative tool which provides numerous benefits, the key benefits include:

Entity Relationship (ER) Modelling Tool:

The ER Tool enables you to create a database graphically. It follows standard methodology for data modelling. However, unlike traditional data modelling tools, FlexiDB creates the database as it is modelled. There is no need to make a model and then use SQL code to create the underlying database as FlexiDB does this automatically.

FlexiDB automatically creates default queries and forms. Queries are used to view data, whereas forms are used to add or edit existing data. The user can leave these as is, or can use the query and form editor to change fields, ordering, etc. The query editor can also create join queries and handle aggregate functions.

The Mobile Device App Editor:

The FlexiDB app editor is just like WordPress or other CMS tools. Instead of creating web pages it creates pages within an app. There are numerous data widgets that can be dragged on to an app page. The FlexiDB app editor auto generates PhoneGap code enabling designed applications to be deployed to both Apple and Android app stores.

Report Designer:

The report tool lets users drag data widgets on to a canvas. These are the same widgets as the WordPress plugin and app editor. Once you’ve created a report you can save it for later use. The report tool can be used in conjunction with the task editor, so that reports can be emailed out daily, weekly, or as required. There is also a preview and download option, so you can test your reports as you create them.

REST Open API:

FlexiDB has a full REST API. This means that developers can use it to get or put data into FlexiDB directly. We have also created wrapper libs for PHP, JavaScript and C#. We are currently building a codex for the REST API which we will release shortly. Similarly we will be releasing the wrapper libs for everyone to use. In addition to the REST API developers can create plugins and tasks for FlexiDB. This offers developers great scope for adding their own functionality.

The prototype and full commercial version of the product were developed on time and to the specified budget. Further information relating to the FlexiDB product can be found at: www.flexidb.com.

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