In order to replace our current database interface with one that is accessed from a web client, we must choose between using an applet or script based system. .
An applet-based system would require that a compiled binary file be downloaded to and run on the client. This applet would most likely be written in Java. .
This approach poses several problems. First, a Java compiler would need to be purchased. Secondly, compiled Java applets can be relatively large in size when compared to a web document containing scripts. This would use precious bandwidth on our links to our outlying branches. Lastly, Compiled Java can be resource intensive on the client computer. Some of our computers are getting rather old and do not have the resources to spare.
Due to the reasons listed above, the applet-based system must be ruled out. This leaves us with a script-based system.
The three most common types of scripting used for this type of application are, Active Server Pages, Java Server Pages and PHP: Hypertext Processor. All three offer similar functionality so the choice must be made using other factors.
Active Servers Pages (ASPs) is the most widely used script of this type used today. It is a Microsoft proprietary format that requires a Microsoft server, such as Internet Information Server 3.0, in order to work. Microsoft server operating systems expensive, prohibitively so in this case, and have very high hardware requirements. These factors make ASPs inappropriate for this project.
Java Server Pages (JSPs) are very similar to ASPs in function but use Java code instead of the Microsoft Visual Basic scripting. This offers wider browser compatibility and platform support. The primary negative aspect of JSPs is that the Java code is complied on the server and then returned to the client as a "servlet". This compiling can be resource intensive, especially when trying so serve many clients at once. Since one of the constraints of this project is to be able to use inexpensive hardware, JSPs do not appear to be the best choice.