Our company's business model involves producing software for a known set of customers, and then providing support and upgrades for that software. This requires managing a rich set of data, for example:
- The set of clients, with each client having: contact details, live and test deployment environments, licenses etc
- The set of software products, with each product having: releases, dependencies etc
- The set of employees, with each employee having holiday dates, department & team membership etc
- etc etc etc (this is just a small example - I am sure you get the picture)
Of course all these sets of data are managed in separate silos. Some are standard enough that they can be managed inside established 3rd party software, e.g. change control for source code, helpdesk incidents. Some are not however, and these tend to be managed in spreadsheets.
Although all these different sets of data are related conceptually, there is no way to easily navigate from one silo to another, or create a report crossing over silos.
I know this is not some new problem, or unique to us, and there is probably no perfect solution .... but I am wondering about the possibility of the following:
- Suppose we designed a SQL Server database to hold all our proprietary data
- This database was exposed for browsing and editing through a web front end (with edit permissions granted to the appropriate departments). The functionality does not need to be advanced - mostly its just CRUD (create, read, update, delete)
- The front end should be automatically generated from the model as far as possible, i.e. not be yet another software development project!
- The front end would have to be flexible enough to accommodate changes to the back end database as we refined or expanded the model over time
- If manual customisation was needed, the system should be build with .NET
(We are a Microsoft shop, so ideally any solution would be built with .NET, SQL Server etc)
This seems to be exactly what ASPRunner is for, however I was not very impressed with the front end or the performance. I also evaluated ASP.Net Maker, but the functionality far is more limited than ASPRunner's. From the non .NET world there is OpenXava, but it requires familiarity with Java.
I think I have found the obvious candidates, but is there anything else, even if it meant loosening the requirements for using a SQL Server db and .NET?