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My First FireBirdSQL Project

In 2006, I was approached by my client using the AgentTrax Sales Management system that I began working on in 2000, because they wanted a web-based front-end to allow their agents (at the time numbering around 8,000 active agents) to contract online as well as to have a place for active agents to enter their sales production and distribute that workload out to the agents making the sales. Having sold a pre-packaged app using FirebirdSQL as the database, we had a little bit of experience with FirebirdSQL so it was an easy step to decide to use it as our database as well. After all, it was open-source, well supported and documented and it was screaming fast. I hired a programmer with some experience in Java and between my experience in database development and his experience in web programming, we started our build of AgentTrax.Net (The name refers to our web domain as we did not utilize .NET technology in the development). Sixty (60!) days later, we unveiled AgentTrax.Net as a live web app for the client and in the first year, the client hired over 12,000 agents and the agents have entered over 200,000 insurance applications into AgentTrax.

We built a complete interface between our web product and the original back-office product and we renamed the original program, AgentTrax BackOffice. Data is entered transparently between the backoffice (using native Foxpro tables and dbc) and the webapp (using Java Server & FirebirdSQL) with our synchronization system. Using Remote Views, BackOffice users edit and correct applications entered by agents from the web and then post the sales to the sales management and reporting system.

The AgentTrax.Net web application includes a contracting system that allows potential employees to entered all of their resume information using various forms and then select the insurance companies for which they wish to sell. Once they click the ‘Hire Me’ button, the server merges the information they entered with standard PDF contracts we’ve created and then emails the finished contracts directly to them. The users of the AgentTrax BackOffice product then access the information entered by the potential employee in real time and once all of the hiring requirements are met, the newly hired agent information can be populated directly to the backoffice system without additional data entry. Once an agent has been hired, he/she can register online to access the production side of the site and begin entering their sales information.

Long term, we plan to upgrade the backoffice portion of this app to natively access the same FirebirdSQL database used by the web-based portion of the system. But it appears that this will end up being a evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary process. Our users continue to ask for features and all new features are being created using the FirebirdSQL whenever possible, so probably before we can do a complete re-write the program will naturally migrate in this direction over the next couple of years.

Stay tuned. I’ll try to update our progress on this project as we move forward on it.

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