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hope I am in the right place to ask this. A client, for whom I developed a group management software (in Flex) is now asking me to develop a fully-fledged hotel management software (tailored to his specific needs, that's why he does not use an existing one).

However, he wants to access it on the Web and have a Desktop only version (if the internet won't work for any reason). Further more it should work on Mac and Windows.

The software should be able to do some accounting, room management, template editing, creating pdfs, exporting excels, composing HTML Emails, lots of Reports etc. etc.

This poses a real problem for me, as I know that most of those apps are written with .NET or similar, to have easy access to all Office components, Outlook, etc. However, we need Mac support as well.

I was thinking of using Flex/Air, which would give me cross platform, web and desktop, but I am afraid that Air does not come with all the possibilities of Excel Export, Templated Editing, Outlook Integration, etc. And also the development time might be much higher than in .NET i am afraid.

Any suggestions how you would tackle this problem?

Thanks, Martin

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Out of curiosity, how do you intend to have this sort of software work if you have no Internet access? You must at least have a network in order to connect to a central database of rooms, otherwise you're going to end up with double-bookings and other problems related to database consistency. –  syrion May 8 '11 at 14:49
    
If those apps use office or Outlook, don't be surprised that aren't made in .NET, but Access or VB6... –  umlcat May 9 '11 at 21:15
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3 Answers

Resume requirements:

  • "Web and have a Desktop only version"
  • "should work on Mac and Windows"
  • "easy access to all Office components, Outlook"

Additional points to consider: Note that you can have a "intranet" web version in case web goes offline, and that some companies prefer (.NET / Java) Desktop apps, instead of web apps, by speed, not because losing net connection.

Its common to suggest the "tool that you know, or have more experienced" as the programming framework. But, your requirements seems no to be fulfill by "Flex/Air", specially when it comes to MS related software.

Suggestion:

You may want to check .NET / Mono, to check if apply to all your requirements.

Additionally, you may want to use a different framework for web, and another for desktop, but using a shared design, entities, model, database.

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Perhaps he's willing to change his requirements if you explain the cost pressure his 'windows + mac desktop version' introduces.

Maybe he'll be OK with loosing some features when offline: Maybe he just wants to be able to look at previously generated reports.

Perhaps he can use (web)services on a intranet server instead of using it across the internet? He may drop the requirement altogether if that sounds more reliable to him.

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I would use flex or Silverlight for such application. Both would give you cross platform abilities and desktop. However neither work well with an iPad. You could also use an HTML5 approach and use the offline data store to store data.

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