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About UsWe develop Innovative Software Solutions and have been doing so since the Company was formed in 1993. While initially this was database applications, since 1999 we have concentrated on database driven web pages and XML Web Services.
Our current focus is the development of Internet related software, ranging from design of Static Websites through to development of Custom-built Web Servers for eCommerce and Web Services applications.
We also offer Network Maintenaince, Planning and Supply of Components, including building PCs.
LocationWe are based in the UK in Romford, Essex just outside London. However, the Internet now allows us to offer our development services to the entire global village.
For on-site network maintenaince our normal area covers the following: Romford, Upminster, Brentwood, Billericay, Basildon, Chelmsford, Braintree, Bishop's Stortford, Harlow, Epping, Theydon Bois, Debden, Cambridge.
Database & Software Development
FoxPro & Visual Foxpro (VFP)Foxpro is a database development language originally developed by Fox Software in the late eighties; we have been working with it since just before Microsoft purchased it in 1992 at which time it was at version 2.5. Since then Microsoft have continued to develop it further adding, among other new features, Object Orientation and it is now called 'Visual FoxPro' (VFP) and is up to version 8.0. Despite this continued development the basic design of the systems kernel remains virtually unchanged, along with it's legendary stability. We tend to think of VFP as the COBAL of the PC development world, while it may never be fashionable it is simply a very competent and stable development language designed for producing Data driven software.
Also take a look at this quite large and reasonably influential application written in VFP JFast, it is responsible for all US military logistics worldwide.
C# - C Sharp
Microsoft's new Web development language for writing server side software, it is particularly targeted towards Web Services.
C can be incredibly fast, but does require that the necessary time be spent optimising the code. However, it is very much a write once language, difficult and therefore expensive to modify when changes become necessary. For this reason C is a great tool for writing discrete or specialised components which can be reused many times by other programs but, because of the maintenance overhead, it is not by itself the best language for writing an enterprise wide suite of Business software.
Access is Microsoft's end-user database, it is relatively easily learnt by non-programmers. Although Access does have multiuser capabilities, it was initially designed as a single user database and the multiuser aspect was added as an afterthought by Microsoft. It can be used to create bespoke database systems but it is not really suitable for developing line-of-business strength applications.
If your business really does necessitate large quantities of data or if you have other reasons for requiring a Client/Server Database then SQL Server is the product but do remember that SQL Server is not a simple fit and forget, it will require continued monitoring and maintenance from a Database Administrator. Also, it must be remembered that Microsoft have a vested interest in telling you that you need SQL Server because of the revenue they will then generate from the licence fees.
Static WebsitesThe Web is a great place to advertise your Company and let others know what you do and what services you offer. Static pages can also be used to provide an online catalogue of products or services available and is a good way of keeping existing customers up-to-date with your latest news and special offers.
HTMLHypertext Mark-up Language is the basic building block for all Web sites; it is a presentation language that defines how objects (text and images) are displayed in the client browser. It is important to remember that HTML is not a procedural language and is not capable of performing as program code; it is merely a presentation definition language.
DHTMLDynamic HTML is not exactly a separate language, although some parts of it are, but mostly it refers to the ability to change the properties of HTML objects dynamically (at run time) usually in response to an event initiated by the user.
Macromedia FlashThis is not an open Web standard but is still quite a popular method of providing your site with moving animations. In order to run a flash animation within a Web browser the client machine will need to download the Macromedia Flash ActiveX control and in most cases this happens almost transparently. It can also be used to create online presentations; to give you an idea of what is possible here's one we made earlier.
ActiveX controlsSee ActiveX controls in our Internet applications page.
Search Engine OptimizationComputer programs or Web sites that offer to increase your traffic by submiting your site to multiple search engines DO NOT WORK, they are more likely to reduce your page ranking in the search engines than increase it.
One of the most common mistakes preventing a site being indexed by the search engines is invalid HTML, many of the graphical 'Web design' tools actually produce invalid HTML. Although your Web pages may look fine in Internet Explorer, which is very lax in it's rendering of HTML, this does not mean that the search engine bots will be able to read it, they tend to adhere much more strictly to the W3CHTML standards. Also remember that any text within a Flash animation will not be visible to the search engine indexing bots.
Dynamic pages - eCommerce & eBusiness
Database Web accessStatic Web sites are good at what they do but they are just that, Static. Database connectivity is the next logical step in the evolution of the Web and linking a Web site to a Database opens up a huge range of previously unimaginable possibilities. The potential of this particular aspect of the Internet is only just beginning to be appreciated and is currently much under-utilised. Take a look at our Web server, Peer to peer and Internet applications pages for more information.
Non-public Web pagesEven though the Internet is renowned as public not all Web pages have to be publicly accessible. For instance, we could create a secure part of your site that is accessible only by your authorised customers, thereby allowing them direct access to your live data, current stock levels, etc.
XML & XSLXML is essentially a data definition language which provides a standard protocol for transferring data. However, when combined with XSL, which defines how the XML data is displayed, it provides an alternative method of displaying data in a table on your Web page instead of using an HTML table.
Web Server Technologies
Bespoke Web Server (non-IIS)We have developed our own Web Server which runs directly on Windows 2000 or NT4 Server and by-passes IIS completely. Initially developed as an alternative for those concerned about security issues with IIS, it has since proved to be a good foundation for development of a dedicated web-services server. Another advantage is that it allows concurrent connection of an unlimited number of HTTP authenticated users without requiring a Microsoft user licence for each.
Internet Information ServerMicrosoft's 'Internet Information Server' serves static (fixed) HTML pages. To go a stage further and link the site to a Database is achieved by running a program each time a Web page is requested.
An 'Internet Server API extension' (ISAPI) allows a specified program on the Web Server to pre-process each page request before the response is served. For high volume applications running on IIS we can create an ISAPI extension specific to your particular needs.
Active Server Pages
'Active Server Pages' is simply Microsoft's own ISAPI extension which is built into IIS; it may not be the fastest or most robust solution but is adequate for most low volume sites. In fact clusters of ASP servers have been used in some quite high volume sites although this approach is not without it's problems.
Web ConnectionWestwind's Web Connection is an ISAPI extension combined with an Internet programming framework for Microsoft Visual FoxPro. It has better performance and reliability than ASP but is not as fast as creating your own dedicated ISAPI extension. It is, however, perfectly suited to most eCommerce applications and medium volume sites.
Web Services Applications
XML Web Services - what are they?An XML Web Service allows a Web page to call a program on the Web server (or on a different Web server) and to receive the result without reloading the whole page. Your Web Service could expose functionality on your Web server that other Web pages could then use, or alternatively your Web page could call a function published on someone else's Web server. This particular facet of the Web is currently receiving a fair amount of attention due to Microsoft's .Net. However, it should be remembered that XML Web Services do not depend upon .net rather that .net is simply one way of consuming or publishing a Web Service.
SOAPSimple Object Access Protocol is an enhancement to XML Web Services and provides standard protocol for an XML Web Service to call a particular method within a program on a Web server and receive the result, including provision for reporting errors. Although this has always been possible, even without XML, it was quite an involved task and most Web designers were unaware that it could be done. Using SOAP and XML for Web Services provides a simple and open means of accessing them with a standard protocol.
Object Messaging Protocol
Remote Object update
Using our proprietary Object Messaging Protocol, individual items on your Web page can be updated in real time so that those currently browsing will see the object change immediately without the need for continuously reloading the whole HTML page or frame. Very useful if you want your Web Site to display frequently updating items such as a Stock Broker displaying current market prices.
Using only HTML and similarly open Web standards this allows either one-to-one chat or group meetings directly within the Web Browser. It requires neither an ActiveX control nor any additional Program to install and as this runs within the Web browser there are none of the normal problems encountered with using chat through a Corporate Firewall.
Our Message Live forum/message board differs from most in that it will update you browser automatically with any new messages immediately they are added, whereas other message boards wait until you next refresh the page before displaying the latest updates.
Team Collaboration PortalThis is designed to keep teams of remote workers in contact with each other through the use of Instant Messaging, Group Chat, File Transfers & Sharing and Online Alerting.
Other Internet applications
SMTP email serverUsing our SMTP Mail Server application that we have developed, we can automate email processing and responses directly on your Web server.
Peer to peer Internet applicationsFull peer to peer communication via the Internet has many possibilities. One application we have developed allows messaging and secure file transfers directly between two machines connected to the Internet without the need for transmitting all the data through your central Web server.
For non-interactive controls we can create an embedded COM object which has the advantage of being much smaller and cleaner than a standard ActiveX control.
Signing ActiveX controls
We can also assist you with obtaining a Class 3 developers certificate to allow you to sign your own identity onto your ActiveX controls.
We can supply various speeds of Business ADSL lines, each with it's own static IP number, along with a suitable ADSL router which we can configure and maintain to suit your requirements.
Call for a quote!
Technologies and Languages