How to Build Me a Software
August 23, 2017 10:29 AM   Subscribe

You may remember me from this question. I have come a long way since then and, for a different company, have built my Portfolio Management Database too. It's very nice, thank you. What would I have to learn to turn it into standalone software?

This is an exercise in goal-oriented self-education. My company is perfectly happy with the tool as it is now: Data in SQL Server. Access as a client for ad-hoc queries and updates. Excel as the presentation layer.

Wanting to learn something new, I would like to know what I have to learn to turn this into a standalone piece of software, either web or client based. The presentation layer is the key to this, as I make extensive use of Excel charts and graphs.

What languages or frameworks would I need to learn to present data the way they do it at Workfront or Primavera, for example.

I am pretty sure it will be a lot to learn, but I have time. It just helps to have an end goal for my dilettante-ism. Thanks!
posted by bluejayway to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If your data is hosted in SQL Server, I'd suggest learning report development in either Crystal Reports, OR in SQL Server Reporting Services as a first step.
posted by Ipsifendus at 11:10 AM on August 23, 2017

I'm not going to really get into a specific software to build, but packages that already exist that can do things with the data you already have to customize what is being done in Access and Excel currently.

SSRS is the first thing to look at, since you're already using Microsoft SQL Server. It's built right into SQL Server, and won't take much fiddling, and there's plenty to learn there.

Also useful is a report language called BIRT, which plugs directly into all manner of SQL flavors to make reports, and there's no cost associated like there is with Crystal Reports. (Here's a really good detailed book on BIRT). You can use BIRT to do ad-hoc queries based on a defined data set that you already have with the use to a set of parameter fields that come up as you're running the report. (dates X to Y, include these rows if this column is set to 2, etc)

If you're wanting to do ETL (extraction, transformation, and loading) stuff and a lot of visuals, looking into Pentaho Community Edition may also be useful to you. There's a lot going on with these products, but they're super useful if you're developing dashboards or if you're doing a lot of data manipulations. This could supplant the Excel stuff once you get it tweaked.
posted by deezil at 11:35 AM on August 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Because data is in Sql Server... You could play around with Microsoft's ASP.NET Core and MVC with Entity framework specifically because they have a wizard that will create a web application for you based on an existing database:

Here is a tutotrial in which they start with a provided database, you could start with that tutorial, then move on to trying it out with your existing Portfolio management database.
posted by czytm at 2:16 PM on August 24, 2017

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