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I am on my planning session to develop a Library Management System for a School. Now the task is a bit confusing for me to decide which technology to opt for to develop the system? I have to options to work on with my team:

  1. Develop a desktop application using VB.net
  2. Develop a web application using PHP

Now, I need suggestions which would be more better to opt for in terms of economic & technical feasibility and which one would be easier to maintain?

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Third option - buy an existing package. –  nbt Jun 13 '11 at 10:52
    
@neil - this option was the first that hit my mind. but anyways, i am not the customer nor the development company owner. I am just a project member and an employee. I have been given these to choices to work upon. :( –  PsyCoder Jun 13 '11 at 10:54
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3 Answers

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I imagine the school's infrastructure will play some part in the decision. Does the school have a server capable of supporting a web app? A lot of small schools have a small file server and contract with an external company (often through the school district) to host the school web site. If that's the case, then a VB app hitting an Access DB may be the best fit (I hope not, for your sake!). OTOH, if your school is (say) a community college with a few web apps already, then due diligence requires that you find out what they're written in and try to use that, in order to reduce the maintenance burden. If none of this applies, then I'd consider the security aspect. A desktop app that can easily integrate with AD or whatever their established security architecture is might be better than a standalone web app that requires users be created and added to (and removed from) admin groups.

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I had a similar problem many years ago, at the end the team decided to use an existing open source software and modify it to their needs. The software was called Koha, you would have to learn Perl though.

If Koha doesn't fit your needs, consider your requirements. Does it have to work only on Windows ? what if one day you switch to Linux ? you would have to rewrite the .NET application or port it to Mono.

Should the application be accessed remotely or it's only for internal use? A web application would be advantageous in the former case.

Is your team more comfortable with .NET or with PHP ? With desktop applications or with web applications ?

Take these parameters into account and make your choice.

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Ease of maintenance depends largely on your implementation and not the technology used. (Example: I worked for a company where a series of in-house desktop applications checked for update every time you started them up. That brought maintenance pretty much to the same level as a web application).

Since we don't know anything about special functionality or the environment, I don't think anybody can say anything about technical feasibility other than: both technologies can do the job. Sames goes for economic feasibility.

Usually you also need to consider other factors when making that decision: desktop applications (by and large) offer a richer user interface compared to web applications. Distribution (which isn't really an issue in your case) is easier with a web application.

Maybe you can post some more detail about this app, and then we may be in a position to offer some better advice.

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