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Posted on 2013-06-05
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We have a lot of yachts all over the world and what we want to do is install a central server on each yacht, have the employee's use ipads to update data that will be stored on the server then when the boat comes back into port it would sync that data to our MySQL server.

Question: What database works best with iPad and would you go with a Mac server (mini for space) or a small Dell or IBM server?

For the App I could just use a webview and connect with a low res webpage but I would rather use that as a last resort. I have limited xcode experience but have written a few basic apps. I am mostly php.
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Question by:Robert Saylor
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by:adrian_brooks
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For the sake of cost effectiveness, each yacht-homed server need not be an enterprise level server. Personally, I would actually use a barebones system with a linux OS. (Literally pennies on the dollar for the server at that point).

The reason I recommend this, is because if all the server needs to do is serve up a local app for the iPads to use, then the architecture need not be extravagant. A simple architecture with a LAMP stack installed on it would serve up your application and the localized MySQL database server would be able to be plenty for your needs. Then when each on-board system is back at a port, you would need only to fire off the updated database records back to the central server.

The central server would be a much better candidate for an enterprise-level system as it will be more responsible for enterprise-level processes and data handling.

~AB
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by:Robert Saylor
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Thanks, the central server is already enterprise. So with LAMP and I know LAMP very well I am thinking a web based served on a webview would prob work best.

I was wanting to use more native form based in xcode but that's beyond my experience. I could write the webview to be php and the ipad would connect to a local IP address.

We might also consider outsourcing the ipad development if we can get a more centralized connection to the boat server. I have a few older optiplex desktops I could most likely use for the ship computers.
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by:adrian_brooks
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Well, you could do the whole thing in PHP and have it hosted on the LAMP server on the yachts and have a wireless router hooked to the servers so that the iPads could connect to them that way and save the cost if the iPad development altogether.
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by:adrian_brooks
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On the LAMP stack, you could set up a name virtualhost for apache and put that name into the /etc/hosts file so that it knows to resolve it locally. Then when the iPad tries to go to yacht1.yacht-domain.com, it would be able to serve up your PHP app as a web page on the iPad.

Personally, if I were to be faced with this, that would be the route I would implement. Out of pocket expenses would be minimized while solution efficiency would be maximized. And in this day and age, we have all the tech we need to perform such tasks for very little financial expenditure.

~AB
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by:Robert Saylor
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This is true but have to think of people not computer friendless so was thinking an app would be best.
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by:adrian_brooks
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That's quite obviously your preference and most certainly, UX does take precedent over cost when it comes to end-product.

Nonetheless, if a PHP app is done properly, its UX/UI can be as good or even better than a dedicated app. Especially with the use of Ajax and jQuery. But again, I absolutely respect your position in this and leave you to your most desired path to your solution.

Best regards. :)

~AB
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by:Robert Saylor
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I agree AJAX would make it user friendly. So my plan most likely would be to create a mini server with a mini user website then have an app launch the URL of the site. I should be able to stage the apps at our central office then deploy them. I can use xcode to install the app without going through apple. We don't want the app to be public. Or do you have a suggestion for deploying a private app?
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adrian_brooks earned 500 total points
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I don't know anything about Apple related app development, but from everything I have heard, there is no way to deploy Apple apps without going through Apple directly. But again, that's only what I know from hearsay. So, I sincerely apologize for the lack of expert advise in that arena.

I'm more of one of those folks that lives by the K.I.S.S. paradigm. Or keeping the plumbing simple to avoid unnecessary complications.

~AB
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by:Robert Saylor
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Thanks, well I know if I execute the app from xcode to the ipad directly it will install the app. That won't be an issue if I have all the ipads here. But remote ipads could cause a problem.
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by:Robert Saylor
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Thanks for your input on our planning!
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by:adrian_brooks
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It's been a pleasure. :)

I wish you well on your endeavor.

~AB
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