Web browser as a front end to a microsoft access database?

I have an application in VB6 with a Microsoft Access database used by over 3500 users worldwide.  My users are not allowed to use Microsoft .NET Framework or JAVA so I have to go a different route.

I am thinking about going HTML5 and PHP to connect to the Access database and a complete re-write of the application.  My concern is what my users will need to add to their systems to run a browser-based application with PHP.

Can anyone provide some guiding input???
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Giovanni HewardCommented:
Any requirements relative to the end-user browser will be determined by your design--- meaning if you design an application in Flash, Silverlight, JS framework, etc. then of course any browser will need to support that design.

For all intents and purposes, a front end application could be created without specialized add-ons, as all processing is done server-side via PHP.

Here's an example of connecting to an Access/JetSQL db file via PHP:

$dbName = "x:/db/db_example.dat";
if (!file_exists($dbName)) {
    die("Could not find database file.");
try {
    $db = new PDO("odbc:DRIVER={Microsoft Access Driver (*.mdb)}; DBQ=$dbName; Uid=; Pwd=;");
} catch (PDOException $e) {
    echo 'Connection failed: ' . $e->getMessage();
$sql = "SELECT * FROM `table`;";
$result = $db->query($sql);
$row = $result->fetch();
$str = $row['field'];
echo "The result is <b>$str</b>";

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If you're planning on distributing your application (as opposed to hosting it) with the intent of having users run it locally, then you'll need to include a web server, php, and other support files with your distribution.  Take a look a XAMPP, httpdx, etc.
Giovanni HewardCommented:
Here's some framework's to look into which could save a substantial amount of time.



Boyd (HiTechCoach) Trimmell, Microsoft Access MVPDesigner and DeveloperCommented:
My concern is what my users will need to add to their systems to run a browser-based application with PHP.

Depending on what you crete, the client side may not need anything.

On the server side where the Access database is located they will need IIS running with PHP installed.

Note: If you will be hosting the database on your own web server then you can use ASP.NET without having to install any .NET stuff on the client
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Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE )Infotrakker SoftwareCommented:
My users are not allowed to use Microsoft .NET Framework or JAVA so I have to go a different route.
Curious what operating system they're on ...
A web application runs in the web browser, IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc. Basically the only thing your clients will need is a web browser, which they certainly have. If your application doesn't have some special needs that are browser specific it will run in any of them.

Build your app using PHP or some other web app platform and just let your clients know when is done and what the URL is.
"I have an application in VB6 with a Microsoft Access database used by over 3500 users worldwide.  My users are not allowed to use Microsoft .NET Framework or JAVA so I have to go a different route."

This is a puzzling one.

1. I wander why would they be "not allowed" to use .NET or JAVA. If the app currently is in VB6 with Access they definetely are using Windows. On windows you can install for free bot .NET Framework and JAVA(JAVA on any OS for that matter).

2. If they are using the application on their desktop toghether with the Access database, it makes no sense to make it a web application. A web application needs a server in order to run, which they will need to be installed.

2. If they are using the application on their internal network by multiple users then yes, you can make it a web app which they will have it installed on a server within their netowork. In that case they need on that server PHP and a web server installed, like IIS or Apache to serve that application.

3. If you install the app on a location to be accessible world wide then it is only you who have to have PHP, server and Access db together with your web app on that location with a url that points to it. In this case you clients need nothing to install because they will use their web browsers to connect to the app.

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Giovanni HewardCommented:
The restrictions make sense from an attack surface reduction perspective, although other approaches are available (i.e. running applications (Java, .Net, etc.) in dedicated protected virtual space), etc., using a product such as Invincea.  I probably don't need to go into how many 0-day exploits Java has had this past year.

In the end, all you'll need at a minimum is a web server capable of using PHP.  I just converted a VB6 application myself to a web based application.  I used the Kendo UI framework (requires Javascript enabled browsers) and MariaDB as the replacement back-end database server.

The web server can either be packaged and installed locally on each users machine or hosted and globally accessible to your users via a web browser, depending on your requirements.  While the latter seems to be the easier approach, the "right" way will be completely dependent on your organizational goals and requirements.
bob-hytekltdAuthor Commented:
The other comments were good and headed me in the same direction, but this response but it all together in a format I could best understand.

The users are police departments and do not allow access outside their network and the reason I can not host the website for my application.  I could move to VB.NET but I've been programming for 40 years and VB.NET is pretty bad.  I'd rather move it to a server-side application but also have the problem that police departments may not take lightly to having to run IIS on their servers... even thought 99% of them already do for their own applications.  But I can't depend on it.

I am running a survey now to determine how many agencies run IIS and PHP.  If it's 100% then, I'm good to go.  If it's 99.999999999%, I have to go a different route.

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