A few app evaluation questions and a feature suggestion

  • jason

    Status: Forum Member

    Posts: 34
    Joined: 30 Aug 2007
    From: Calgary, Alberta

    One feature that I thought of as soon as I saw the software was a scanned document repository that can be associated with a unit/property. I know we've taken to scanning our rental agreements and walkthroughs and storing them for future reference. Having them imported into the program and available at your finger tips would be a neat thing to have.

    For the questions, it looks like it was written in VB6 with an Access database. I was wondering about this choice of products, and why you didn't go with something either more current like .NET or with something more cross-platform like Java (though I will say creating client apps with Java is not a fun thing)?

    VB6 extended support from Microsoft ends in only 7 months, and I'm a bit concerned about app compatibility in Vista (though MS has committed to having VB6 apps run in Vista they say), but especially in any OS's after Vista. Personally Vista feels a lot like Windows ME all over again and there may be a short turn-around between Vista and the next major rev of Windows. So from a business software evaluation standpoint, is it written in VB6? And if so, what plans to migrate it to a supported platform in the future do you have (if any)?

    Another question is security. It's been a while so I can't remember about Access for sure. Is the information in the database secured and/or encrypted? IE if someone got a hold of the MDB file would they either be able to open it in Access or even just look at it as a flat file and find information? There are also commercial Access password cracking programs out there, how effective can they be? Should we be relying on REMA itself for security of our information, or should we be securing the perimeter ourselves? (And if ourselves, I might suggest some tutorials on how to set up encrypted folders, use strong passwords, or links to such resources)

    Anyway, thanks for all that's gone into it so far, from poking around I can see how much effort went into making it and how comprehensive it is. Usability would be a big thing to tackle in the future though, it really is quite intimidating wink.gif

    The market's over, everyone panic!
  • RobM

    Status: REIN™ Member

    Posts: 28
    Joined: 31 Aug 2007
    From: Calgary

    It is written in VB6, I had that confirmed. It does use an access database, it took a free utility approximately 2 seconds to tell me the password to the access database (I was trying to figure out why something wasn't working) so don't count on the security of the application to keep your data secure, as with anything on your computer I you need to keep it secure.

    I agree with questioning the VB6 choice, future compatibility, plus the ease of making it a modern application I would have thought VB.NET would have been a no brainer, but in the end it really comes down to the coder and the business logic to make a good application.

    Rob
    Rob Martin

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  • GarthChapman

    Status: REIN™ Member

    Posts: 1,835
    Joined: 31 Aug 2007
    From:

    QUOTE (jason @ Sep 6 2007, 04:43 PM)
    One feature that I thought of as soon as I saw the software was a scanned document repository that can be associated with a unit/property. I know we've taken to scanning our rental agreements and walkthroughs and storing them for future reference. Having them imported into the program and available at your finger tips would be a neat thing to have.

    For the questions, it looks like it was written in VB6 with an Access database. I was wondering about this choice of products, and why you didn't go with something either more current like .NET or with something more cross-platform like Java (though I will say creating client apps with Java is not a fun thing)?

    VB6 extended support from Microsoft ends in only 7 months, and I'm a bit concerned about app compatibility in Vista (though MS has committed to having VB6 apps run in Vista they say), but especially in any OS's after Vista. Personally Vista feels a lot like Windows ME all over again and there may be a short turn-around between Vista and the next major rev of Windows. So from a business software evaluation standpoint, is it written in VB6? And if so, what plans to migrate it to a supported platform in the future do you have (if any)?

    Another question is security. It's been a while so I can't remember about Access for sure. Is the information in the database secured and/or encrypted? IE if someone got a hold of the MDB file would they either be able to open it in Access or even just look at it as a flat file and find information? There are also commercial Access password cracking programs out there, how effective can they be? Should we be relying on REMA itself for security of our information, or should we be securing the perimeter ourselves? (And if ourselves, I might suggest some tutorials on how to set up encrypted folders, use strong passwords, or links to such resources)

    Anyway, thanks for all that's gone into it so far, from poking around I can see how much effort went into making it and how comprehensive it is. Usability would be a big thing to tackle in the future though, it really is quite intimidating wink.gif


    Hi Jason,
    Brian is away until next week but I will try to answer your queries as a lay-person.
    1) Re your suggestion on having a scanned document repository - that's on our to-do list
    2) Re why written in vb6 - We started over 4 years ago, and this app was and is really stable, and does not require the User to purchase any additional software. .net was not around back then, nor would we likely have used it if it was, as it is designed more for internet-based applications. We had determined that each User's data should reside on their own PC and not on a remote server.
    3) Re vb support - Microsoft has announced that they will support vb6 through the lifetime of Vista. The support that ends in 7 months is only the support to the programmers, and as this is a mature product we do not see that as a concern. And we now have REMA running on Vista so I don't see any compatibility issues going forward.
    4) Re security of the User's data file - As always, it is up to each of us to ensure the security of our computers. As you say, secure the perimeter ourselves. As to tutorials etc - if you send me links to what you see as good resource materials I am sure we can use that as the beginning of a new post regarding security.
    5) Useability - we have found that as people spend time in REMA it becomes much more intuitive to them. It can be intimidating at first, but a quick read of the Help File/User Guide (which we are working to make more comprehensive) and then just touring through and playing with the Sample User database makes it understandable pretty quickly.

    Thanks for the thoughts and good ideas.
    Garth
     Garth 
     Diamond REIN member  and Advisory Board Member
      with 3 top-10 awards. 2 Michael Millenaar Leadership Award
    s
     Mortgage Advisor  Residential, Multi-family, Commercial
      Garth's webpage at Jencor Mortgage      email garth@jencormortgage.com

     
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      Real Estate Management & Analysis Software      
    email garth@remacanada.ca
     
                  
  • GarthChapman

    Status: REIN™ Member

    Posts: 1,835
    Joined: 31 Aug 2007
    From:

    QUOTE (RobM @ Sep 6 2007, 10:03 PM)
    It is written in VB6, I had that confirmed. It does use an access database, it took a free utility approximately 2 seconds to tell me the password to the access database (I was trying to figure out why something wasn't working) so don't count on the security of the application to keep your data secure, as with anything on your computer I you need to keep it secure.

    I agree with questioning the VB6 choice, future compatibility, plus the ease of making it a modern application I would have thought VB.NET would have been a no brainer, but in the end it really comes down to the coder and the business logic to make a good application.

    Rob


    Hi Rob,
    On the security issue - I couldn't agree more.

    I explained the vb6 choice in my post to Jason in this thread - please have a look there for details. VB.NET wasn't around when we started, and I understand it to be aimed at applications where the Users data is not stored on their own computer, and we were not going that route.

    Thanks again,
    Garth
     Garth 
     Diamond REIN member  and Advisory Board Member
      with 3 top-10 awards. 2 Michael Millenaar Leadership Award
    s
     Mortgage Advisor  Residential, Multi-family, Commercial
      Garth's webpage at Jencor Mortgage      email garth@jencormortgage.com

     
    REMA co-creator 
      Real Estate Management & Analysis Software      
    email garth@remacanada.ca
     
                  
  • jason

    Status: Forum Member

    Posts: 34
    Joined: 30 Aug 2007
    From: Calgary, Alberta

    QUOTE (Chaps @ Sep 17 2007, 12:03 PM)
    Hi Jason,
    Brian is away until next week but I will try to answer your queries as a lay-person.
    1) Re your suggestion on having a scanned document repository - that's on our to-do list
    2) Re why written in vb6 - We started over 4 years ago, and this app was and is really stable, and does not require the User to purchase any additional software. .net was not around back then, nor would we likely have used it if it was, as it is designed more for internet-based applications. We had determined that each User's data should reside on their own PC and not on a remote server.
    3) Re vb support - Microsoft has announced that they will support vb6 through the lifetime of Vista. The support that ends in 7 months is only the support to the programmers, and as this is a mature product we do not see that as a concern. And we now have REMA running on Vista so I don't see any compatibility issues going forward.
    4) Re security of the User's data file - As always, it is up to each of us to ensure the security of our computers. As you say, secure the perimeter ourselves. As to tutorials etc - if you send me links to what you see as good resource materials I am sure we can use that as the beginning of a new post regarding security.
    5) Useability - we have found that as people spend time in REMA it becomes much more intuitive to them. It can be intimidating at first, but a quick read of the Help File/User Guide (which we are working to make more comprehensive) and then just touring through and playing with the Sample User database makes it understandable pretty quickly.

    Thanks for the thoughts and good ideas.
    Garth


    Awesome thanks!

    For .NET, it's not really designed just for internet based applications, that's just one aspect of .NET. Part of .NET is having a common runtime environment on all Windows computers (just like Java does) for the applications to use. Using .NET (VB.NET, C#.NET or C++.NET) wouldn't preclude you from having data on the person's computer in an Access database, I've written a number of PC based apps in both VB6 and .NET.

    (From a programmers point of view it's also nicer than VB6 since you can do an actual Object Oriented design and implementation, vs VB6)

    Good to know about the VB6 and Vista, that makes my mind rest easier that going forward it won't be an issue.

    For security, I'll track down some guides and put together what I think would be a minimum for any user to do (not just for REMA, but for all of their business data) and make a post for it. I think that's one of the areas where people often neglect (I am guilty sometimes myself too). That and backups. biggrin.gif

    Again thanks for the reply, we'll put our stuff into it and see how it goes, from what I've seen so far it's pretty impressive.

    The market's over, everyone panic!
  • crooksb

    Status: REIN™ Member

    Posts: 27
    Joined: 1 Sep 2007
    From: Calgary

    I had a reply ready for you but I see Garth has answered - good thing I checked! One other point re the security - I put a password on the .mdb files just to keep, shall we say, uninformed or non-computer types, from getting into the table structure and possibly changing something. I realize that password hacking has become almost an industry to itself and the password I chose isn't the strongest, but if someone wants in ... Besides, anyone with the least bit of computer and/or database knowledge could figure out the table structure just by looking at the table listings and data entry screens. I started this out with the KISS principle in mind, both in design and future maintenance. In the future I can see REMA being browser friendly and web enabled with a different database engine but for now I just want to get the basic concept and functionality perfected.
    Keep your suggestions coming and thoughts coming. They are appreciated.

    Brian (from hot, partially cloudy, Orlando Florida) rolleyes.gif
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