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DataFlex developers deliver web solution overnight to solve Covid-related crisis


In "normal" times, the typical development cycle for a new software application involves months, if not years. Spec out the job, refine the requirements and queue the development time into the overall picture "as soon as possible".

The demands of the global Covid-19 pandemic make the typical app development cycle unacceptable. A case in point is the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration which suddenly found itself charged with a rather extraordinary task… the culling of all farmed mink in the country due to fears of a mutant Covid-19 virus.

Scientists at Denmark’s Statens Serum Institute identified in farmed minks a worrying new mutated strain of the novel coronavirus that had been spreading back to humans. The government decided to remove all farmed minks and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration was given the task. They urgently required an application to manage the culling procedure and the proper disposal of the deceased animals.

"So, why is DataFlex suddenly mentioned in this story about minks in Denmark?" rhetorically asks Charlotte Grønvold of Danish systems developer (and Data Access Channel Partner) FrontIoT ApS.

"Well... there was a man from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration who was aware of DataFlex as a tool for very rapidly building applications," says Charlotte.

"On a Sunday evening, FrontIoT received an inquiry from our contact at the administration asking if it was possible to get a new mobile web app up and running to manage information related to the mink crisis in no time..."

RAD with DataFlex

To meet the Danish government’s challenge and demonstrate DataFlex’s rapid application development capabilities, FrontIoT assigned two developers: Sture Andersen of StureAps to do the programming and Klaus Berthelsen from FrontIoT for testing and rapid deployment.

Starting with notice of the need for the mobile application at 13:00 hours and receipt of database specifications at 19:00, the two-man DataFlex team developed, tested, installed and delivered the solution on the client’s servers at 08:00 the next morning.

Sture says, "This was all done with no prior knowledge about databases that would be involved – it was a totally new application! The demand was for rapid development and deployment in a crisis situation, and this project showcases how DataFlex can rapidly deliver applications for customers with such requirements."

Sture adds, "It is important to note that this application was built on the customer’s new, complex table definitions. There were column name lengths up to 90 characters, null values all over and the like. And DataFlex just soaked it up and connected via the wizards, and the framework had no problem... a feel-good moment, from a developer’s perspective!"

Development was swift, Sture says. Especially so because it was a new customer, and the development team had no prior knowledge of their database structure or how they work. Still, they were able to take the order in the evening and have an installed system on the customer’s servers the next morning at 08:00, ready for production.

Under these unusual conditions, the FrontIoT/StureApS team was able to produce literally overnight an app that takes care of the involved logistics with keeping track of mink locations, transport and disposition. All infected animals have now been culled and the tracking activity is winding down.

Says Sture, "The app was designed to assist during a potentially chaotic situation (which it was) involving thousands of trucks and containers. The application is destined to go the way of the poor minks and will soon be forgotten. Together they will be just another record in the ’big database’…"

Chip Casanave, Data Access Worldwide’s President and CEO, says of the achievement, "There were two occasions in 2020 where FrontIoT was able to very rapidly develop and deploy web applications for Danish government ministries. DataFlex’s powerful development framework enables developers everywhere to meet the challenges inherent in demands for the rapid delivery of applications for government and business sectors at low cost."

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