Friday, July 06, 2007

Using Zoho's cool form-creation service

We illustrated a three-tier application using a simple class roster file. It took me a day to develop, debug and document that application using Active Server Pages (ASP). It consists of six ASP pages, and I needed some knowledge of ASP, Visual Basic, and SQL to develop it.

I implemented the class roster application using the form-creation service at Zoho.com. It took me less than an hour to learn to use the service and implement the application. I needed no knowledge of programming -- it was similar to building the application using a simple database management system like Microsoft Access. Note also that the service-based application has powerful features like data export, access control and report sorting that are missing in the bare-bones ASP version.

The advantages of using a service to create this application are abundantly clear, but there are still questions. Will it scale -- how would it perform if we had an application with thousands of records and dozens of forms and views? Will Zoho continue offering this service -- can I count on it as part of my course curriculum? What will they charge for large databases? Would they be better off implementing their service using a file service like Amazon S3?