About ten years ago I wrote a front end for a not too complicated insurance database using Visual Basic 4.0 16-bit over Access 2.0, with Crystal Reports for output. I'm still using it today.
The system consists of data entry, premium calculations, and report generation. There are lots of funky rules that very from client to client. Things having to do with dates, limits, and stuff like that. So over time, the application has become pure spaghetti code. It works, but it sure is ugly inside.
Anyway, I very much need to rewrite the whole thing from scratch and have certain requirements. I'm hoping someone out there can make some suggestions as to which tools I should use.
> I want nothing to do with Microsoft if at all possible. I don't necessarily mind developing on XP for now, but whatever I use must also be available on Linux. Shorthorn is the end for Microsoft as far as I'm concerned.
> The entire system must be web based, using open standards & tools. My main motivation is to make everything totally web accessible so I can have my customers enter data rather than me receiving faxes and emails then doing to transcription.
> I need to generate a crapload of semi-complicated reports that will print out properly for my customers. I've been using Crystal Reports since version 1.0, but alas, they are Windoze only. So that's a dead end now too.
> I haven't done any real coding over the last decade and back then it was only in VB. So, I need something without a terribly steep learning curve. I'm willing to sacrifice extreme functionality for simplicity.
> Although I know many Linux folks prefer command line hand coding, I must confess that I have more of a GUI type of brain. The appeal of being able to draw everything out and then make it do what I want is significant.
> I'm pretty clear that the database will be either PostgreSQL or MySQL. I've never used either, but hope there are some GUI type tools that will allow me to structure the tables, define relationships, and build queries similarly to what I'm used to with Access. Is this wishful thinking?
So, I need suggestions for replacement tools for VB, Crystal, and Access.
One person I know is suggesting that I use Drupal over MySQL, but I'm not sure if that will do all the things I need.