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I have seen 2-3 ERPs in action. I am wondering what is better. Desktop based application or webbased displayed on a browser.

My first experience was with a web based ERP when i was 14 years old.. It was web based and terribly slow... For most simple task you had to do lots of clicks... no keyboard support ..... Pages took ages to load.

Last year I worked for migrating to a newer computer some old terminal based cobol application. The computer that worked till today and still has no problem was from 1993.
The user interface ofcourse was textbased.. The speed that guys placed orders was amazing! just typing the name of the customer , then 5-10 keys to add a product to order....

Comparing to this ERP the page for placing orders Link (click sales orders) seems terribly slow to add a product... No keyboard shortcut works to save what you added and generally I believe you need 4 times more time to place an order compared to the text interface...
Having to use both mouse and keyboard for this task is BAD and sadistic...

So how can the heck these people ever use a system like that ???

So in the long run desktop application seems the only way... Of course browsers support shortcuts but the way to overide the defaults that browsers uses isn't cross compatible... That is a huge problem.

Finnaly, if we MUST/forced use cloud in near future what about keyboard shortcuts?? I feel confused... I have seen converters of desktop applications to browser applications but are SLOW as hell...

The question is what about user friendliness? What kind of application would you use?

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closed as not constructive by Mark Trapp Nov 29 '11 at 16:15

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5 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Web based, that exposes a web service interface to it.

With the web service interface, you can write an application that would call into the web service APIs to do something. This would allow you to write an application for a specific use case that you guys do most often, so you can speed it up (you can make it text based). Just make sure the webservice exposes everything you would need.

There are many advantages to web based that you would not want to lose just to gain some speed:

  • Easier deployment of new versions (new features, bug fixes)
  • Easier access from any terminal (do not need to run an install to access the ERP/CRM)
  • Easier to change things internally (you can move to new db without telling anyone)

An example of this is StackExchange/StackOverflow itself. It is a website, with a web service exposed, and DroidStack uses it to provide an application that is easier to use on smart phones than the website (sorry Jeff).

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There is one singular reason why web applications exist: they will run anywhere, without you having to install them.

That's is no small thing. StackOverflow is an application. If it had to be installed, it would exclude at least 50% of the potential users, including me. My office computer (the one I use for email and such) is locked down tighter than a battleship. Installing external applications is pretty much out of the question.

Web applications are maintained in one place. If a web application has a thousand users, and an update is required, that update only has to be applied once. For desktop applications, an update has to be installed a thousand times.

Finally, people understand web applications. Point and click.

Now, do you lose some efficiency with this approach? Probably. Is the user interface less than ideal? Undoubtedly. But in many ways, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Web development is getting better all the time. A web developer who understands good UI can produce an application that is almost as good as the desktop one, with respect to responsiveness and utility.

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A good desktop application framework (doesn't exist yet) will nullify all of the mentioned "advantages" of web apps. I wouldn't drive a diesel over petrol even if it came with free servicing. It just sounds ugly. Likewise, web apps can never be more responsive than their desktop counterparts. If my favourite car is only available in diesel then I guess I have no choice, but you can bet your house I'll be switching to the petrol model as soon as it's made available. :-) –  Sam Nov 29 '11 at 13:28
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I would go with the web application, and concentrate on using javascript to make the app more responsive.

Text-based applications can certainly be more efficient than web applications for data entry & lookup, but I don't think a new text-based terminal-style app is going to be very popular with today's user base.

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Maybe. But i see textbased terminal applications at many places... Pizza -delivery restaurants , airports(checkin etc) , 90% of public services ... and that was WTF when i realised it, felt like i was missing something. I prefer mordern applications but i believe that some of them are overengineered and painfully slow... –  Parhs Mar 13 '11 at 16:03
    
Well, I think for internal applications - used by employees of a company - you might be able to go that route, but if it's going to be used by the public, web-based is still the way to go for the reasons Robert Harvey mentioned in his answer. Of course, you definitely don't want an over-engineered "painfully slow" app either. –  vjones Mar 13 '11 at 16:13
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I am currently building an ERP, and it has a fat client, instead of web access. From time to time this is an advantage (faster, users want it, no browser problems), and from time to time I whished to have made a webapp (layouting, and look of the GUI, no client problems).

I cannot really prefer either side, so maybe, in the long run, we will have both GUIs.

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It really boils down to what your customer wants.

If you double the time for data entry they will not use it, or will use it because they have no choice and hate you for it all the time.

And if you are replacing a terminal system I think you will be hard pressed to get the speed of data retrieval you need form a web page to make the users happy.

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