What can a High School tech department do when their application for printing transcripts stops working? An application using an obsolete Student Information System, built on MS SQL tables no one in the department knew how to query properly, residing on a decade-old Apple server and programmed to a bespoke - and now broken - PHP web interface? Oh, and did I mention the original developer is long gone?
If you said there was nothing they could do, you'd be almost right ... but as luck would have it I have years of experience supporting that obsolete SIS, a deep knowledge of both MS SQL and PHP, experience supporting Mac OSX, and a love for figuring out programming puzzles just like this one!
As expected, upon investigation the code was an undocumented jumble, heavily reliant on deprecated functions, and with most errors "fixed" by having the reporting of them turned off. It was also integrated tightly into Apache webserver and a variety of 3rd-party and opensource applications. The advanced age of the server's built-in Apache and PHP didn't do us any favors either, as the architecture had changed so dramatically in the last 10 years that updating drivers and interpreters was not recommended.
In the end we were not only able to get the transcripts printing again (much to the relief of the school ... and several college-bound post-grads!) but also make informed recommendations about how to move forward and avoid this issue in the future. I assisted with Phase 2, migrating all of the code and services to a virtualized environment, and plan on beginning Phase 3 in late 2016, at which time we will begin converting all SQL records to OCR document storage.
- MS SQL
- Mac OSX Server
- Project Management
We literally could not have fixed this without Michael [and 43Folders]. Working with him was great - before we signed anything, he consulted and offered thoughtful options to us; even ones that would have meant no contract. He estimated a very reasonable price and an aggressive timeline ... but came in under budget and beat our deadline too!
I would recommend [43Folders] to anyone interested as trustworthy, professional, and extremely competent (and Michael is a lot of fun to work with too!)