18 August 2016
Development, Microsoft, Content Management Systems, Engagement Profiles
P&B Testing, Inc. is a mid-sized Houston based company that performs destructive
and non-destructive testing in the energy industry. The company performs nearly
a dozen different types of tests. P&B had a 20 year old FoxPro system that was showing
its age, would not scale, and was not web enabled. After providing IT strategy consulting
to P&B, the firm determined that Intertech Consulting was the best selection to
build their Internet-based portal for its Laboratory Information Management System
The primary objective was to replace the FoxPro system, and secondarily to streamline
and enhance P&B Testing’s current Order to Cash processes and internal workflow.
Activities included the migration of data from the existing FoxPro application to
a new schema in Microsoft SQL Server. Additional project development included the
re-building of internally facing data entry mechanisms, and the planned development
of customer-facing interfaces, including the ability to place testing orders, check
the status of orders, process material returns, view test results, and see accounts
The target architecture consisted of Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft IIS, the Microsoft
Entity Framework for object/relational persistence, C# language business logic,
The Project Was Comprised of 2 Phases:
1. Development of replacement for current FoxPro application
2. Anticipated development of new public-facing website with the ability for customers
to interact with the company when placing testing orders
The original system was written in the FoxPro language approximately 20 years ago
and the goal of Intertech Consulting is to prepare P&B Testing, Inc. to fully integrate
paperless processing and web-based technologies in its day-to-day operations when
dealing with its customers and vendor partners.
The newly created system was designed from an Enterprise Architecture Model, taking
the existing technology infrastructure at P&B Testing and adding a database server
and a Web server. P&B’s web presence was hosted, and the strategy involved moving
the website on premises and adding a Microsoft SQL Server.
The new system for P&B Testing, Inc. included technologies and components considered
as best practices throughout development.
Industry proven and widely supported, SQL Server provides the lowest total-cost-of-ownership
and provides access to the most effective tools geared towards the extraction and
compilation of relevant business information from raw data
The Entity Framework (EF) is Microsoft's Object/Relational (ORM) framework that
effectively complemented our technology stack of ASP.NET and MVC. Simplifying operations
involving relational data stores, EF utilizes LINQ (Language Integrated Query) for
query execution which greatly improves performance of CRUD (Create, Read, Update,
Delete) operations, saving development time. EF allows for easy management of one
to one, one-to-many and many-to-many relationships amongst database tables, and
provides a convenient, mechanism of data replacement without modification of data
Microsoft’s leading HTML framework, ASP.NET MVC 5 includes enhanced features for
authentication and identity management that provide a fully secure environment with
a smooth, highly interactive user experience.
The ASP.NET Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework offers a lightweight, highly testable
architectural pattern that provides an effective solution for application layering,
which ultimately promotes the development of loosely coupled applications. This
allows for separation of duties amongst input logic, business logic, and UI logic
which is considered best practice development in most scenarios.
Benefits of a loosely coupled application includes a great reduction in code complexity,
better testing, efficient code evolution and primarily, when part of an application
must change, the rest does not, saving hours of future development time triggered
from cascading changes. Following the MVC pattern can also expand development capabilities,
whereas developers can work seamlessly on different portions of the application
without creating problems in other areas, greatly increasing development speed.
Separation of application layers proves to be especially useful within the MVC architecture
for testing purposes, providing a more secure code base. Since the Model (data)
is independent, testing the Controller can be performed in isolation from the actual
data, making for a safer debugging environment.
Twitter Bootstrap is a free and open-source front-end web framework for designing
websites and web applications. Bootstrap contains HTML- and CSS-based design templates
for typography, forms, buttons, navigation and other interface components, as well
with front-end development only. Bootstrap is the second most-starred project on
GitHub, with over 95 thousand stars and more than 40 thousand forks.
Bootstrap provides a set of stylesheets that provide basic style definitions for
all key HTML components. These provide a uniform, modern appearance for formatting
text, tables and form elements. In addition to the regular HTML elements, Bootstrap
contains other commonly used interface elements. The components are implemented
as CSS classes, which must be applied to certain HTML elements in a page.
They provide additional user interface elements such as dialog boxes, tooltips,
and carousels. They also extend the functionality of some existing interface elements,
including for example an auto-complete function for input fields. In this system
Alert, Button, Collapse, Carousel and Typeahead.
Upon reviewing previous screenshots above, it is evident the new system acquired
quite a facelift.
In a future phase the existing public website will be replaced with a customer portal.
Prospective customers will see company information. Existing Customers will be able
to log in and see their company’s test statuses, results, and invoices.
New features including a fully functional user administration module and data lookup
tools such as auto-complete allow for system users and administrators to fully customize
and locate data quicker than before. The innovative workflow management offered
by the dashboard offers users one central location to refer to when attempting daily
tasks and operations, effectively reducing time involved in day-to-day tasks.
Allowing customers the ability to log in provides a customized, user focused experience
where company information, test data, customer test results and invoices can be
viewed. Overall, the newly designed system has proved to significantly enhance P&B
Testing’s daily workflow and operations to such a level of satisfaction that they
continue to collaborate with us as to how they can continually refine their business
with technology solutions.