Custom Web Applications
Looking for custom web or online application development? You’ve found the right place.
Blueberry Consultants is an expert developer of custom web applications and database-driven websites.
Introduction to Web Apps
Our experience has taught us that the majority of our customers’ projects can be categorised into one of the following types of Website: Brochure sites, Rich Content sites, e-Commerce sites and Web applications.
What is a Web Application? It’s a business system or application delivered over the Web. It might be an internal expenses application used only within a company (intranet); a reseller purchasing application used with partners (extranet); or an online system available to members of the public like an eBay or a holiday cottage search site.
Deciding whether a website might better be called an “application” can be tricky – but in general if the site presents forms and stores data in a database – it’s a Web app.
Blueberry has been developing bespoke web apps for many years. Over this period, the Internet has seen vast expansion – and the tools and technologies available for web development have evolved beyond recognition.
Furthermore, as technology has progressed, so we’ve moved onto designing web applications that are Web 3.0 compatible. Web 3.0 provides a far more personalised browsing experience for all of us. Websites can automatically customise themselves to best fit our device, location and any accessibility requirements we may have. Web apps are also becoming far more attuned to our usage habits.
Blueberry has all the skills required to deliver your online system:
- We have strong expertise with Microsoft IIS and ASP.NET – the leading Microsoft Platform for website delivery.
- We are experts in MS SQL Server, used at the server side to manage the database.
Creating a bespoke ‘Web App’ or online system is a significant software development project, which requires careful management. You can read here about how we work with you to understand your needs and make sure we deliver the system you want.
If you’d like to understand more about the technologies we use to implement leading-edge custom online systems and web applications, please continue reading.
Hosting and Development Platforms for Web Apps
Blueberry primarily uses Microsoft tools for custom web application development – which means we use a Microsoft Server, which includes Microsoft IIS / ASP.NET as the web-server. We generally use Microsoft SQL Server as the back-end database.
We use Microsoft tools primarily because we believe they allow us to be more productive. We can write the system code using C#, which is a very modern and powerful language.
The major alternative to Microsoft technologies is Linux. You may hear the acronym “LAMP” mentioned – this stands for “Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP”, and refers to a collection of technologies commonly used together on Linux-hosted web-applications. We appreciate that the Linux platform has some strong benefits – notably that components are mostly free – and we see good sites being developed using LAMP. But most of our customers still use MS products, and we’re happy with this choice.
In truth, the vast majority of developers have strong expertise on only one platform – so very, very few people are really in a position to say “this platform is better”. And the right platform may well depend on exactly what sort of application is being developed.
Web Technology Overview
In the beginning, the web used HTML. HTML was originally a very simple way for people to write pages which included text, graphics – and links to other pages. The extreme simplicity of HTML powered it’s rapid adoption, and launched the Web.
HTML has since been massively extended, which has led to huge problems with browser compatibility which continue to cause web developers headaches on a day-to-day basis. The core problem is that HTML simply wasn’t designed for the purpose it is being used for – which means it doesn’t work that well.
In recent years, there has been a major push to find ways to develop “rich Internet applications” – i.e. websites which are significantly more interactive than plain-HTML sites, and provide users with more interesting and convenient ways to obtain information.
The following is a brief summary of the competing technologies for Rich Internet Application development:
Released by Google, AngularJS allows the modern web developer to create user interfaces using model-view-controller and model-view-viewmodel architectures. This is achieved through the use of custom HTML tags, or directives, which are then rendered into plain HTML. AngularJS’ two-way data binding allows for the automatic synchronisation of data between its model and view components, reducing the lines of code a developer may have to write. Blueberry has used AngularJS to great effect when developing bespoke web applications for its customers.
AJAX however has some significant disadvantages – the development tools we have for AJAX programming are poor compared with client side tools, and AJAX often encounters significant browser-compatibility issues. Complex AJAX sites can require huge amounts of testing and fixing. There are solutions to some of these problems, but AJAX remains a quite expensive technology.
Flash & Flex
Flash is supported by all major OSes, and delivers very good cross-platform compatibility – a flash app that works on one OS generally works on all. However, Flash programming is specialised, and many developers do not have the skills.