Making standalone app. Browser enabled

We have developed a financial quotation system in VB4.  It runs on stand-alone PCs, uses Access databases, performs financial calculations etc.

We have been asked to investigate the development of the system as a Browser enabled product, with it running on a Web server, the user interface will be a Browser.

It has been suggested that the server could be an NT 4.0 Server running IIS3.0 and the client would be Windows 95/98 running Microsoft IE4.0

We are thinking of developing this using Microsoft Active-X technology, but we are on  a steep learning curve.

So far we've got some vague ideas about this - We will change our VB forms into Active-X documents (written in  VB 5) on the Web server there will be a VB program performing tasks centrally.  We understand there is a Wizard to convert VB forms to Active - X.  Is it any good? How far will it get us? (I assume I'll have to upgrade my forms to VB 5 to use it).

I am curious about things like database access - will the bits that do this have to be on the server or will we be able to use database commands in the Active-X documents to get data from server.

We have been asked about VB script, what is it? and will we be needing to use it in the development.  Are there any good Web sites to read about this stuff.

I'd be very greatful for any suggestions/comments/answers - what we are trying to get together at the moment is an outline strategy - like do we need a complete re-write/re-design or can we convert?
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vamsi_kConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Thanks all for your help.
Ok, here is where you should start:

1)  Take ALL your database access and move it to the server.  This will help keep your clients thin (no DAO required).

2)  Develop ActiveX DLLs or EXE to put on the server that does the DB access and returns the sets in collections of 2 dimensional arrays

3)  use Active Server Pages (since you are going to use IIS) to build your front end HTML.  This will give you netscape and IE support

4)  VBScript is basically a subset of VBA.  You can do a lot of the same things you can do in VB.

Basically, in Active Server Pages, you can run VBScript on the server or the client.  Since the client browser is unknown (and netscape does not like VBScript), you want to run it on the server.  This VBA will call your ActiveX Objects, get data, and build HTML to present it.  

If you are certain you only need IE support, then you can go with ActiveX documents.  These documents can communicate with the server via DCOM to get the data they need.
It is better idea to put the database at the server side in your case.
There are three ways in which you can make your client communicate to the server which
ofcuorse, developable easily in visual basic. You can establish communication to the client and the server using winsock control, remote automation and through Dcom.
If you are totally build your application through VB then no need to know about ASP and VBscript.
You can make your client component as either activex control or as active document( well suported by IE and the web browser control provided with the vb).
Server component is going to be a activex exe in case of remote automation and DCOM.
server component can be standard exe with the winsock control.
Talking about ASP you can go for the book from the microsoft pree "Active server pages" a good one.
If you are interested in vbscript lot of books like Dummies which will give a good startup

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Sorry to reject your answer it has been of some help, as has anthonyc's comment.  There's a few things I'm not clear on yet.


You mentioned in relation to VBscript that it will build HTML pages - does this mean that we can avoid using (and therefore having to learn) HTML. ?

I'm not to clear on the meaning of 'Active Server Pages' please could you enlarge on this or give a definition?

A factor of Active-X that is attractive to us at the minute is that we understand that the components will be pushed out to the client and retained on his PC for future use, thus reducing future performance times. Therefore I'm very INTERESTED in what you said about using DCOM with MS IE only - we can specify the broswer that will be in use by the users.  Could you give any more details regarding this route.  You stated that Active-X documents can communicate directly with the server via DCOM, does this mean that we can open databases directly and use SQL for instance?  Could you explain DCOM we're unclear as to what it is.

I'd like to thank you both for your help so far, any further help you can give will be greatly appreciated. NB I've upped the points by a modest amount and I'll try to free up some 'lost' points I've got.
deightonprogAuthor Commented:
Adjusted points to 130
deightonprogAuthor Commented:
Adjusted points to 150
deightonprogAuthor Commented:
Actually, to run your application from the WEB, there are many options:

1.  You can convert your VB application to EXE file, and run that file through HTML code.  Sorry, I do not remember the actual code, but I know for sure that there is an option to run any EXE file, provided you have necessary add-ins which your browser can support.

2.  Re-design your VB application using HTML, and VBScript.  As one of our friends above mentioned, VBScript is similar to VB, and there is nothing more additional to learn about that, but only the syntax of how to use the code along with HTML.  Sure, you must know HTML for this.

3.  Using Active-X controls and VB5.0

4.  Using Active Server Pages, this is also a similar software for developing web-based applications, through which you can design forms, access data from the database and even send data to the databases.

Try any of the above options, which suits you best, and let me know about what happended.
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