Ranwilli's Blog

paladinRandom Ramblings from a carmudgeon in training. The blog was supposed to be about web development, but has wandered off course. There's enough about web development out there, don't you think?

What's an App?

"App" is short for "Database Application." By a large margin, most of what we experience on the web are actually database driven applications. Think of Facebook, LinkedIn, Salesforce, etc.

Wikipedia (a database driven app) defines it thusly:

"A database application is a computer program whose primary purpose is entering and retrieving information from a computerized database. Early examples of database applications were accounting systems and airline reservations systems, such as SABRE, developed starting in 1957."

Think of a database as a spreadsheet, the cells of which contain various and sundry data: Text, Numbers (lots of diffent kinds), Dates and Times, Images (well, links to them), and so forth. Searching a database is really just sorting and filtering the rows of data to answer specific questions (or queries) to give you the answers you seek. The resultant data can be displayed in columns and rows like a spreadsheet view, or it can be displayed visually in charts, graphs, timelines, customized display pages, and so on.

Working with a database can be summarized with the aconym "CRUD" - Create , Read , Update , Delete. Those are the basic ways a databse is built and maintained.

Why explore all of this here?

Because your organization can use this relatively simple technology to further its goals and ambitions quickly and inexpensively (admitedly relative terms.)

There is a marvelous extension for Joomla called "Fabrik" which Harper Vance uses to build custom apps for our clients. Although many apps are "public facing," meaning they are on the web so that people can explore your company's offerings and ultimately purchase your goods and services, many other applications are for internal use.

"Internal" Database Apps

Do you have file cabinets in your office? Are there file folders stacked on top of them waiting to be re-filed? Do you have new members of your team who scramble trying to get answers for clients or other team members? If your answer to these questions (and many more like them) is yes, then an app, or a couple of them, might be game changers for you.

Purpose built apps are secure, private if desired, and affordable. Call us today so we can help you explore apps to determine what you need, and how to get them.

myjoomlaPhil Taylor is an extremely well known and prolific Joomla developer. He is now operating a wonderful service site called "MyJoomla.com."

We are using the site now to monitor all of the websites on our hosting servers and have been extremely pleased with the outcome.

Among other things, MyJoomla.com watches the entire Joomla!™ installation for proper settings for cache and compression, unneccesary "fluff" files, exploits implanted by nefarious hackers, and extensions needing update.

A great service, well worth the reasonable monthly cost.


Fabrik is like the cool toy your Mom made you wait to open last on Christmas Morning. It's like an "Erector Set" that comes with an enormous amount of accessories, allowing you to build stuff limited ONLY by your imagination. That last is a tiny exageration, because there are some limits, but I haven't personally found them yet.

Any data which can be expressed as rows in a MySQL database can be imported or entered via Fabrik, then manipulated, sorted, folded, spindled and mutilated by Fabrik, and finally searched by your website visitors and displayed to them as tables, graphs, timelines, maps, etc., etc. ad infinitum.

So, you can extend Joomla in just about any way. I have recently built a site for an English Company who wanted a site for use in debt collection. Prior to that we built one for a sales organization to permit sales people to enter sales results for early compilations for management's benefit. We built one for a memorabilia dealer, and a pretty complex one for tracking certifications and qualifications for an ambulance firm.

If you try it out, and find it's a bit too much for you, contact us, we're happy to help or take the project over.

Silver Lining

I was raised by optimists. I heard the phrase "silver lining" early and often as a child. I believed it then and I believe it now.

It is often difficult to remember in the face of adversity, but people are quick to remind you that, "When God closes a door, He opens a window elsewhere."

Or this one from Jeremiah 29:11 which has more substance to it:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I was feeling a bit low this morning, having gotten bad news about a website I really wanted to do. I had been dreaming of what we could do for the organization, and how rewarding it would be to use our gifts and training to make them a one-of-a-kind website. The bad news is they have chosen another developer to do "my" site. And while I am sure the competitor is nice to his mother, and never kicks dogs or cats, I have trouble believing he has the passion for this job that I have.

In order to feel better about this, I will grasp the old platitudes, and I will wait. I will wait patiently for the new site to be launched in the hopes that the client will have made a wise choice, and that my competitor will have made a great website, even better than that I have dreamed of. If these things happen, I will be happy, indeed.



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