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"Steve has an ability to demonstrate a fine eye for details. It’s clear he has an excellent relationship with his clients. I would recommend his work to anyone."

-Matt Bland, Redstor

Browns Integrated Technologies Ltd
Datamar terminals database web app

Software, web and database development, system integration

Datamar terminals

April 2013

Datamar empowers their clients, delivering up-to-the-minute data, charting and mapping using iBizify.net database and development services

Background

Datamar, founded in 1996, specialises in the analysis of maritime and foreign trade sectors on the East Coast of South America. Datamar delivers its data through custom-made applications that are designed to enable fast and flexible analysis, allowing their clients to make strategic, commercial and operational decisions based on facts. In the past, their data used to be published annually for this purpose but, as the data started to become more dynamic and ever-changing, this approach was no longer tenable.

Proposed solution

In consultation with Browns Integrated Technologies, Datamar chose to create a web app to deliver their maritime data in real time. They appointed Browns Integrated Technologies as the project managers, who then approached iBizify.net to work with them, due to their experience and skills in creating professional-grade bespoke web and database applications.

The challenge

  • A new web app to be served on Datamar’s own server architecture
  • Microsoft Access database to be restructured and converted to Microsoft SQL for scalability, control and performance
  • New cleansing routines required for the existing data to support its use as a web database
  • The web app to be demonstrated at a trade show in less than six weeks
  • Datamar administrators and validators to be able to maintain and update the data during development
  • The app to be made available in a private location during development for client review and testing
  • The final release source code and documentation to be delivered to Datamar, who would then take ownership for possible future development or reengineering

Required features

  • Location data plotted on Google maps
  • Terminal satellite imagery from Google for each terminal
  • Performance charts calculated and delivered in real time for each terminal
  • Clients able to view terminal information, submit change requests and new terminal data
  • Validators able to review and update the data based on change requests
  • Administrators able to edit all data and manage the users
  • Tools to include a terminal equipment data editor, a news editor, user management console and an activity log
  • Remote performance monitoring and automatic bug / crash reports
  • User-friendly URLs for direct access to individual pages and database records
  • A database of users to be imported to permit client’s seamless transition to the new app

The solution

Datamar terminals

iBizify.net spent some time working with Browns Integrated Technologies to establish the exact requirements of the project. Datamar and Browns Integrated Technologies provided examples of favoured site designs, together with sample layouts and details of the data elements required. iBizify.net translated the technical requirements and suggestions into a workable solution.

iBizify.net established an eight-phase process for the project, which included database provisioning and design, software development, customer preview and milestone points, optimising and testing, data imports and database upgrades, plus a final release preview prior to go-live.

The first phase of the project would produce a specification detailing the requirements, proposed design, functionality, data issues, dependencies and project phases, each with their estimated timescales and costs. The document would also include important information that clarified the development process and agreed business terms, expectations, post-sale support and delivery. The result was released through several draft iterations, which were exchanged between all project stakeholders for understanding and approval.

Projects of this magnitude are inevitably subject to change during development. The specification process is vital in helping to assess change requests and calculate their effect on cost and timescales, thereby permitting effective communication throughout the project.

The result

Following the approval of the release specification the project proceeded to development.

Within just one week iBizify.net issued a ‘design preview’ to demonstrate the proposed graphical design, hosted live on iBizify.net’s own development servers. A few tweaks and iterations were agreed while the other parts of the project continued.

The overall project went according to plan and was executed within expected timescales.

Datamar were able to use the interim ‘development preview’ release of the web app for live demonstrations at their trade show. Despite not being fully completed at this stage, the app performed as it should without any problems. Datamar were even able to use the development preview to maintain their database while the final release was being produced.

The remainder of the development was completed before iBizify.net’s rigorous testing programme, which includes testing across many devices and browsers, functional testing, security probing, trace testing and much more.

Upon completion of the testing programme, Datamar had another opportunity to evaluate and test the product by way of a ‘release preview’ that was hosted on iBizify.net’s development server to avoid affecting the live database.

iBizify.net assisted with the configuration of Datamar’s production server and created scripts to automate the upgrade of the preview site and database to the live version. The result of this preparation permitted the live site to be upgraded out of hours with a minimal downtime of just ten minutes.

The new web app was ready for Datamar to use as soon as they arrived at their desks that morning.

But it didn’t end there

iBizify.net knows well that effective projects do not end at go-live. In addition to providing administrative documentation for the application, iBizify.net included three months of remote monitoring, bug fixes, updates and support. During that time, however, the testing programme appeared to have been very successful as only one problem occurred. This was patched and resolved within a day.

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