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Best tools for SaaS development

Hi, I have always built desktop software, but I am going to develop my first SaaS application.

I have been searching for tools for a while and I have found dozens of different solutions.

I would like to know what do you think are the best software tools (free or not free) to build SaaS applications.

My application will not be a big one, some forms and a database with several tables. My first idea is PHP and MySql.

Any suggestion will be welcome.

Regards.
MSD Soft Send private email
Monday, May 19, 2014
 
 
If you can, you should go with what you know, as then the transition from desktop to web (SaaS) will be much easier. You don't want to learn a whole new way of working, as well as a new toolkit.
Scorpio Send private email
Monday, May 19, 2014
 
 
I use NetBeans for PHP and MySQL workbench for MySQL. Both are free and excellent for the job.
ThistimeAnon Send private email
Monday, May 19, 2014
 
 
Don't do it!

SaaS/cloud/whatever depends on the Internet to work. Unfortunately it doesn't a lot of the time.

Had a situation last week when Virgin broadband didn't work. Result: no one in the office could do any work as everything was based in the cloud/VM's. Didn't work for 30,000 users (read businesses) for most of the day.

You can have a fantastic app but, if your provider goes down, or your clients provider goes down, you can spend the whole day twiddling your thumbs.

In my case it was VIRGIN that were the culprits
Ewan McNab Send private email
Monday, May 19, 2014
 
 
@Ewan McNab
Seems likely that such a situation would require some redundancy.

Business relying on a single provider, which is designed for home use, is always going to yield a suboptimal result.

Looking at the bigger picture, assuming you have appropriate connectivity, SaaS is often an excellent choice for many reasons.
Scorpio Send private email
Monday, May 19, 2014
 
 
What language do you develop your desktop applications in now?
.net?

If so, go with  ASP.Net Winforms or MVC and host it on Windows Azure cloud network.

I just transitioned from making desktop apps in .net to asp.net apps hosted on azure and I'm pleasantly suprised that of the ease of developing saas.  Was avoiding it for a couple of years :)
NewGuyOnTheBlock Send private email
Monday, May 19, 2014
 
 
@Scorpio

In this case there was no issue with the provider of the service (who do have redundancy built-in and run through a high-end data center). The issue was with the end-user losing internet access.

In the end, we did get by with a much slower ADSL connection, but tell me how many businesses you know that pay for multiple internet providers (and, btw, Virgin internet isn't only for home users).

I could name you multiple businesses and organisations who rely completely on centrally maintained VM's and, even worse, IP telephony. The assumption being that they will always have internet access....
Ewan McNab Send private email
Monday, May 19, 2014
 
 
I used the LAMP stack and and did all the development in Windows using MySQL WorkBench and a generic editor called TSW WebCoder.  Libraries I used included the JQuery js library, a little Prototype.js and the DHTMLX suite of UI controls.  No PHP framework was used.
Mark Nemtsas Send private email
Monday, May 19, 2014
 
 
"My application will not be a big one, some forms and a database with several tables."

How many users do you think you'll have? At once? Is this something that will scale to multiple servers or do you think it's a niche thing and a single server will do for the next few years?

Any computation involved in any of this? For example, generating custom images per view, or per query that have to be stashed somewhere.
Scott Send private email
Monday, May 19, 2014
 
 
Thank you all for your comments.

My first SaaS app will not be a big one, and I do not expect having thousands of concurrent users. It will be my "training SaaS project" but at the same time useful for my customers.

I know that Facebook is using PHP and MySQL among other technologies, so I think that this combination has enough growth potential.

I didn't know DHTMLX. My first impression is good.  But I had a bad experience with a really good set of components for desktop development called DevExpress, because I started purchasing what I needed (several thousands dollars) and then they changed to a subscription model I was not ready to afford.

So my first approach is finding free web development tools with a large user base, although I do not discard using premium tools if pricing and support are good and a lot of people is using that technology.
MSD Soft Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
 
 
@Ewan McNab
You said originally that it affected 30,000 users, which sounds like a big business that should have multiple redundant everything, although of course, sometimes everything goes wrong at once. Rackspace, cough, cough...

I see now that Virgin do "business broadband", which I wasn't previously aware of.

However, I still have to disagree with your "don't do it" assertion, as SaaS is an excellent choice in many cases, even if sometimes our clients "forget" that they need to make sure they can actually access it.
Scorpio Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
 
 
@MSD Soft
If you are comfortable with the Microsoft stack, you can sign up for BizSpark and get it all for free, including production runtime licenses. Even a modest Azure hosting package, which might be sufficient for you needs, initially at least.

Facebook is not really a good comparison, as they are an extreme edge case and they use a lot of customised code to run their site.
Scorpio Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
 
 
@Scorpio, thanks for the suggestion. I will have a look at BizSpark and Azure.
MSD Soft Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
 
 
> I do not expect having thousands of concurrent users. It will be my "training SaaS project" but at the same time useful for my customers.

OK, for a single-server project of this nature, I recommend trying SQLite.

When I suggest this there are always a bunch of people who say "Wrong, don't listen to that guy, he is stupid, SQLite doesn't work on servers. And doesn't allow concurrent access."

They are wrong and ignorant about this, which is typical for advice on tech threads from guys that have never bothered to try much themselves. On single server, SQLite works, runs much faster than MySQL, and easier to deploy, and it isn't bogged down with a retarded GPL license, or having to deal with DB server configuration.
Scott Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
 
 
@Scorpio

When I said 30,000 users, I didn't mean within the same company. It was simply the numbers that they quoted. But... considering the location, I'd say most were business customers.

If you are lucky, though, and they start work before 9am, you could possibly get routed through the 'backup' system that nobody other than the IT crowd knows about, then you're sorted.

The point I was trying to make, though, was not that SaaS is useless but that you can't rely on cables not being cut and other such things.
Ewan McNab Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
 
 
On a bit of a rant here, and not related to the OP's topic ;-) But... Imagine if some terrorist group simply dug some holes in various locations around London (Hi Vis vests and nobody would care) and cut the cables? Pretty easy I'd imagine.

Then what? Backup providers are also simply cables and, in the critical offshore links: Simply cables and even more difficult to fix since they are under the ocean.

Quite scary, no?
Ewan McNab Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
 
 
Not really!

Thats like saying, they are going to attack a building that you are working in.

Stop causing paranoia on JOS.
The whole internet is built on saas.
NewGuyOnTheBlock Send private email
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
 
 
@Scott

I found SQLite very interesting if concurrency is not important. Impressed by the amount of bold users of this free software.

@Ewan McNab

I see your point. If I build a SaaS application and problems with my hosting takes my service down for several hours, it can be a disaster for certain businesses.

But I also consider the advantages of not installing software, usability in lots of different hardware platforms, immediate upgrades for all the users, etc.

I think that SaaS is the way to go in the long term, but choosing the best possible hosting is a must.
MSD Soft Send private email
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
 
 
@NGOTB "Stop causing paranoia on JOS.
The whole internet is built on saas. "

You mean like eBay and, potentially, their sibling PayPal? Not to mention the many banks that have been hacked, and other on-line stores / payment processors / game developers?

If it's easy to beat the multi-billion dollar businesses, what hope do the rest of us have?

I am, of course, being deliberately facetious, but these things do need to be thunk about (on purpose) before embarking on an on-line business model.

At some point the credit card companies will simply stop guaranteeing on-line purchases in the way they currently do…
Ewan McNab Send private email
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
 
 
It's interesting that "uptime" for a SAAS is so strongly highlighted here but I struggle to remember a thread on this forum where "uptime" for a desktop computer is made out to be equally critical.  I have a userbase for my desktop software in the 10's of thousands and the most common support enquiry I get by far is from users whose computers have died or have been super-annuated.  Not to mention those computers that have crapped out due to power supply issues and so on.  Then there's issues with local ISP's causing connection problems, local telco's breaking things and taking businesses offline.

My feeling is that the uptime of the average decent web host/server host (such as linode) far exceeds the uptime of the desktop computers in most businesses.
Mark Nemtsas Send private email
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
 
 
SaaS is going to completely dominate IT over the next 5 - 10 years.

A lot of people might not like it but it is an unstoppable force.  Especially within the world of business.

Regarding reliability.  I would rather Amazon, Google or Microsoft where hosting my app than some in-house IT department.  They all provide the ability to host in multiple data centres in multiple regions that not even a multi-billion dollar company can afford.

Security?  Well not all "Cloud services" need to be on the public internet.  Amazon/MS will allow you to set up a dedicate "Express Route" from their data centre direct to your office.

Look at SaaS from the point of view of the CIO of a business.  The logic is compelling. 

He can rent an app for a fixed known price per month.

Doesn't need to take the risk of building it, installing it, hosting it, replacing the hardware when it ages.

Doesn't need project managers, developers, in-house support staff, change management, release management, testing teams.

In a decades time the vast majority of applications used by companies will be SaaS.
TomTomAgain Send private email
Thursday, May 22, 2014
 
 
@Ewan.

On your point of disruption to the network.

Don't forget that the internet was designed by DARPA to survive a nuclear war.

The internet does not go down.

And you can't just go around London digging up the roads planting bombs.  The UK has 30 years of experience fighting terrorists.  We're not a soft touch.

And if you could.  Well surely you'd just hit the electrical distribution system. 

Maybe we should all put generators in our basements?
TomTomAgain Send private email
Thursday, May 22, 2014
 
 
+1 to TomTomAgain for numerous good points.
Scorpio Send private email
Friday, May 23, 2014
 
 

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