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Customer Story - Procurat- Access powering a market leader application

Today's post was written by Carola Hojnacki, entrepreneur and ProtoSoft CEO

Tens of thousands of children attend free and self-governed schools in Germany, many of whom belong to Waldorf/Steiner schools. In the past 20 years, 160 of these schools have learned to rely on Procurat, an application built on Microsoft Access, to manage all their administration needs, track sensitive students’ and families’ information, staff, funding and more.

 

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ProtoSoft is the software company behind the success of Procurat, a market leader in the sector of Waldorf/Steiner schools in Germany.

 

Procurat – Microsoft Access as both frontend and backend

Using Microsoft Access as the development tool for Procurat, we can continue to grow with our customers and their ever-changing needs. The first version of Procurat, based on Microsoft Access, was released in 1998, and was used by a single school. Soon after, more schools with somewhat different requirements and scenarios reached out to us, wanting to know if Procurat can be the right solution for them. Access allowed us to quickly customize the core functionality and be competitive in this market. With newer versions of Microsoft Access, Procurat has grown and evolved, while remaining easy to maintain and customize.

 

 

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Procurat – the next generation

Growing demands and our aspiration to scale and provide a robust and secure backend has led us to design a new and modern version of Procurat.

Considering the alternatives, we landed on the best architecture to achieve our goals – an Access database application on top of Microsoft SQL Server data storage. This was an easy decision to make, as Access provides a great development environment and allows easy integration with SQL Server and other Microsoft Office products.

Why did we choose Access as the tool for our frontend-development? There are multiple reasons:

  • Powerful and robust integrated development environment. Compared to Visual Studio or .NET, Access is light weight and has a low learning curve which makes the development cost cheaper.
  • Perfect integration with SQL Server as a powerful backend. We found that this approach allows us to benefit from both worlds – have a highly customizable and powerful frontend, with managed business logic in SQL Server as the backend.
  • Built-in VBA integration. The ability to use the VBA object-oriented program-language in Access is powerful. VBA allows us to easily interact the frontend’s generic components with the backend’s SQL stored procedures.
  • Easy integration with other Microsoft Office applications. We use the tight integration between Access and Excel and Word for rich reports and letters printing.

The design we chose includes an additional layer of data stored in a local temporary Access-DB, so that we can simulate editable recordsets coming from the Stored Procedures that implement the business logic.

 

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We are excited to release a beta version to schools across Germany by the end of 2017 and showcase the flexibility of Microsoft Access and SQL Server!

 

Related Links

ProtoSoft website

Procurat product

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Carola Hojnacki is a database developer and consultant in Munich, Germany.

She has been working with Access since Version 95 and is project lead of the Procurat Application.

2 Comments
Occasional Visitor

Where is the SQL Server database stored?  A separate db for each school or an internet resource (like Azure)?

Occasional Visitor

Hi Jim,

 

The data is stored in a separate db for each school. That could also very well be running on an Azure Server, although we expect most schools to vote for a database in their own network with no direct connection to the internet.

 

We also have an azure instance running for Test-Purposes, so we can present the application on machines that do not have SQLServer installed or have none in their local network. Since almost all business logic is implemented on the Server, the performance difference between a local sqlserver and azure is not very high, something that really surprised me. Of course, with some dialogs that load a lot of data from the server you notice a difference, but it is still ok.

 

I hope that answers your question!

 

Best regards from Munich, Germany,

 

Boris Fittkau

(Lead Developer Procurat!5)