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Software development

We specialise in the development of custom database applications using SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Visual Studio, VB.NET and ASP.NET .

Applications that we have developed range from small, stand-alone, Microsoft Access databases to large, multi-site, multi-user, multi-country SQL Server systems with tens of millions of records and hundreds of users. We also develop distributed laptop applications, database enabled Internet and Intranet web sites and we also upsize systems to SQL Server .

Projects can be undertaken from initial concept right through to the finished product including Analysis, Design, Programming, Testing, Installation and Support. In addition to complete projects we are also happy to undertake the development of individual modules and smaller items of work (for example to speed up a slow running database system).

We also supply related services such as software consultancy, data cleansing, database security, Access and SQL Server training, system audits, etc. More details can be found under the 'Services' option in the top menu. How It Works We usually start with a specification of your requirements. In an ideal world this would give us enough information to be able to quote you for the work but in practice we usually need to visit you, both to clarify what it is that you want and to let you meet us so you can be reassured that we are competent, capable and reliable.

We then issue a fixed price quotation. This will define what it is that we will develop for you, what technical environment we expect to be developing for, what the costs and timescales will be, etc. Once you have accepted the quote we will usually have a further discussion with you following which we will produce an initial database design. We then walk through this with you to ensure that we have correctly understood the relationships between all of the different data entities.

The next delivery will be a preliminary version. This will not be fully functional but will include a basic framework allowing you to fire up your application and to start seeing what it will look like. This will be followed by regular (1-2 week intervals) updates, each filling out more and more of the application. These will generally be placed on a 'virtual server' set up in our offices. This will enable you to connect to the virtual server via the Internet and run the application more or less as if it were installed on your local PC (with a few restrictions such as printing and saving files).

This iterative approach, which is a variant of the DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method) methodology, has many advantages over the old 'waterfall' method. It lets you see the application as it is developing, allows you to influence the design, enables you to correct any misunderstandings at an early stage, lets you check that we are keeping to the agreed timescale and ensures that, at the end of the day, the application that we deliver to you is the same, or better, than the one that you were originally expecting!

We then deliver to you the feature complete version after which you undertake your final acceptance testing before the application 'goes live' (i.e. starts to be used for real work). Inevitably some teething issues may occur in the first few weeks - which is why we include free support for the first three months! Also don't forget our unique software guarantee; any bugs that are down to us will be fixed free of charge for the lifetime of your application!

Our Credentials & Facilities

We are professional developers with in-depth technical expertise as well as many years of practical business experience. All of our developers are highly experienced, each having a minimum of ten years hands-on database development experience and some much more!

We do not employ trainees or inexperienced staff and nor do we subcontract work out, either in this country or abroad. However our best credentials are the recommendations of our customers. Take a look at our clients, cast your eye over the variety of projects that we have undertaken, have a look at some of our case studies and finally take a look at what our clients say about us.

Software development is not a regulated industry, there are many incompetents and one or two sharks out there, the only real way of finding out if a developer is as good as they say they are is to talk to their previous clients.

We regularly contribute to computing publications and on-line forums; for example we have written a series of articles for Smart Access magazine and Keyhole magazine. We are Editorial Advisors to DNJ (Developer Network Journal) magazine. We also give talks (such as 'Developing Commercial Grade Database Applications' and 'Performance Tuning Your Database Application') at events such as the Access User Group's National Seminar.

We have a wide range of highly specified PC's, servers, applications and operating systems hooked up over our office network so that we can test your application in the environment in which it is going to be used. As well as all the current versions we also keep a number of old computers/operating systems as we know that not all our clients have the latest state-of-the-art machines!

Over the years (we have been in business for over 25 years) we have created an extensive in-house code and algorithm library containing thousands of proven routines and components... this allows us to complete your job faster and cheaper as well as helping us to keep to our goal of delivering to you a robust, high quality, product in a reasonable timescale. We also keep a very extensive library of reference books, magazines, articles, support tools and software utilities.

We are Microsoft MSDN Universal subscribers and are members of Microsoft's Direct Access for Developers organisation; which gives us copies of all of Microsoft's Office products, operating systems, servers, applications, etc. so that we can develop and test your application in the correct environment. We also have a Digital Certificate from Thawte meaning that you can be sure that software that purports to come from us really does come from us and has not been altered or modified since.

Of course we also have all the standard software tools, hardware peripherals, business broadband Internet connectivity, office equipment and such like that you might expect to find in a well-equipped software house. Our Design & Coding Practices All of our software is developed to the highest professional standards and we follow 'Best Practice' principles throughout the development cycle. From the many examples of work we have seen that have been written by other 'professional' developers we know that very few developers adhere to these quality standards! Pricing & Quality We can either work on a Fixed Price or a Time & Materials basis as you wish, although most of our work is done on a Fixed Price basis. 

Are You Cheap?

We are fairly average as far as pricing goes, but we do offer good value for money. We aim to deliver high quality, robust, professional solutions to you and therefore we employ highly experienced developers and we do not cut corners. This would normally make our solutions more expensive, however our code libraries (a wide range of routines and functions that we have built up over many years and which have been designed to be re-used in different projects) allow us to bring the costs back down to the industry average, or even below, - so you get a very high quality solution without paying extra for it.... and don't forget that, unlike most other developers, our software also comes complete with source code and a lifetime guarantee! 

The quality of developed software can vary significantly. Quality is difficult to quantify but all software should be developed to professional, Best Practice standards. Unfortunately much, and probably most, software is not! About a third of our work involves the rectification of existing software developments where the client chose their developers based on cost but found that they were unable to deliver a robust, scalable, reliable and user friendly solution. 

The degree of support that you will get can also vary considerably. Make sure that your developer will still be around in a couple of years time and will still be able and willing to support you. Most importantly, make sure you will be supplied with the full source code of your finished application. Then, if your developer does disappear, at least you can hire someone else to make future modifications (and if it was developed to proper standards then this should involve you in considerably less grief than it would do otherwise!).