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Program Rules
hand drawing flow chart

Your company lives and dies by its data.

If you can easily enter your data - and quickly retrieve useful reports - your business will thrive.

If entering an order is a slow, multi-step operation - and massaging your data into meaningful reports takes hours and hours - your business will suffer.

What is a Database?

A database is a complex tool used to store and retrieve information - quickly, efficiently - and safely.

It should have these features:

  • Group data in a meaningful format: i.e. show the total unit sales of individual widgets broken down by month.
  • Enforce referential integrity. This is a fancy way of saying that if you have invoice items - they can only exist in the database if that invoice also exists.
  • Locate records quickly using an index. This allows you to find in an instant all employees that have worked at the company for over 5 years that live in a zip code of 75001.

Consumer vs. Professional

Consumer databases such as Microsoft Access or dBase (used by many contact managers) cannot compete with the professional databases such as Microsoft SQL Server.

Record Locking and Accidental Data Loss

  • Consumer databases directly share a single file over a network connection. The database itself runs on the client and attempts some limited multi-user support using a shared locks file on the server. This locking scheme is far from perfect, locking out entire sections of the database and slowing performance, so it is seldom used.

    Generally, no real record locking takes place - and one user can easily overwrite another user's changes.

  • Professional Databases implement true record locking. There are also more sophisticated methods that allow greater control.

    A properly designed database and program interface can guarantee that one user never overwrites another's data by accident.

Client Server

  • When a consumer databases runs a report, all of the data must be transferred over the network to the user's computer. It is then sorted and processed.

    Even though the report may contain only a page of data, many millions of bytes of data has to be transferred and processed locally to generate the report.

  • With a professional database, the data is processed at the server. When the client sends a request for a report to the server, the server processes the request and only returns the single page of data - instead of millions of bytes.


  • When a consumer database is used for a web site, it can only handle one request at a time - a single thread. This means that everyone has to wait until that request has been processed, however long it takes.
  • A professional database is multi-threaded and allows many simultaneous requests to be processed at the same time. Visitors to the web site will experience no long delays.

SQL Server 2008

Having recently surpassed Oracle in speed, and easily surpassing Oracle in price/performance and support, we have chosen Microsoft's SQL Server as our primary database.

SQL Server is available in clustered versions that can handle terabytes of data, and several smaller versions designed for small to mid-sized companies.

SQL Server 2008 is also available in a scaled-down version limited to 4GB databases suitable for even the smallest office.

SQL Server is the best choice for an Internet application or a graphical program managing all of your customer data.

Legacy Databases

As many of our clients also have data in legacy databases such as FoxPro, Access, dBase, Excel - or even flat file text databases, we have become experts in interfacing with these legacy systems.

We can create a web server using SQL 2008 that interfaces with a legacy database - even on another operating system such as Unix.