developing a distributor profile database application for the intranet

I'm going to build a database for a small companies intranet using either Access or Sql Server. I have a lot of experience with building Access applications and I sometimes use Sql Server as the back end (all the apps. normaly use forms, subforms and reports in Access and I have used Excel to display and a lot of vba).
I have only built one static web page using Front Page. I have downloaded and looked at MS Visual Web Developer '08 express edition, so, am thinking of using that, but, wanted to get some feedback.

The main purpose of the app will be mostly contact management, tracking demo equipment dealers have, summarizing phone conversations, stuff like that.

So, I could do this in Access using forms/subforms for input and tracking and maybe a report or 2, but, I really don't know how to get it to display on a web page (which is what the customer wants). There will only be 5 - 10 internal users and maybe up to 5 external users.

- Would VWD be a good way to go?
- I don't think it will be hard to publish the final product to their intranet, but, not sure how external employees would view (maybe remote into the server?)
- I have looked at Access DAP, but, couldn't figure out how to do subforms. Should I consider using DAP?
- Other thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated.

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MarkusEilersConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Hello avoorheis,

generally speaking, Access is probably not an option for the intranet application you want to develop.
Also without further knowledge of your situation: ASP.NET is surely a great choice for creating web applications and has - apart from the masterpages concept, webparts, perfect SQLServer integration and many more -  great support for authentication ( internal/external users , ActiveDirectory support, Membership Provides ) etc. . So yes: Go ahead with Visual Studio or VisualWebDeveloper (which is the ASP.NET focussed "Community Edition" of VisualStudio ).

Note: I would love to give you a more comprehensive advice for things that will be hitting you on the road.
- Integration with the used CMS / How to provide CMS functionality ( aka "The Intranet" :) )
- Authentication approach
- Community / OpenSource Software that may be applicable
- Books / WebCasts etc you should have standby when finalizing everything on Saturday evenings :)

To do so, I need more information on which products you are planning to use ( CMS, Webservers if not IIS, Windows Servers, Database Cluster or not, external access per portal or via VPN ? ).

Kind regards and a good start with ASP.NET !

avoorheisAuthor Commented:
Thanks Marcus,
Please note that as far as web publishing, I'm a noob, so, please go easy on the acronyms.
Not sure what CMS is, but, we're planning on creating a MS SQL database and doing a simple as possible display and edit of records. I thought a web application would be the best since this will be used by just company employees, which some are external.

They use windows server, but, not sure if it 2000 or 2003 and I thought that IIS would work, but, am not sure how the external users would connect. That's possible, right?

I do have a couple of beginner books for visual web developer, so, I guess I'll start there?
Hello avoorheis,

sorry for the jargon !
If you are planning for a Intranet you will typically use a system to manage content ( news, user profiles, applications like the one you are planning ). Those systems are called CMS/eCMS. Sharepoint Server, dotNetNuke, Typo3, OpenCMS and others are well-known Content Management -/  Portal Management Systems.

Back to your question:
If Intranet is not what you are looking at: You could of course implement a multi-user solution with MS Access and Virtual Private Network. But Access is close to the end of its life-period. Another very good option could be a SmartClient ( implemented in .NET with WindowsForms /  WPF e.g. using the SmartClientFramework from the Microsoft Patterns&Practises Group ). If you need integration with a web frontend technology or the clients are heterogenous ( Mac, Win, Linux ... ) and you don't need local resources on the client pc ( sound, 3D graphics ... ) then a website will be the most common solution.

And within the range of developing websites: Go for ASP.NET and VSWD !

Kind regards,
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