COMPUTERS IN BUSINESS
Computer-based business applications were called Business Data Processing Systems (BDPS) and COBOL was largely used to design them. Business data was stored in the form of data files, and COBOL programs were used to process the data files and generate useful reports. In COBOL, programs have very lengthy codes. Even a simple payroll system may require a program of 500 lines, and sometimes even more than 1,000.
Later, people felt the need for a more flexible and simple system that would maintain data files and support easy programming. Software that supports creation and management of data files easily and simple queries from the data files and also gives reports in an attractive format is called a Data Base Management System (DBMS). Dbase was the first popular DBMS, version III of which became very popular. Dbase III Plus and Dbase IV were also in use for some time. Foxbase was a similar DBMS. The same company updated the features of Foxbase and introduced Foxpro. Now Foxpro is used in several small companies.
At this stage a new technology called Graphical User Interface (GUI) was introduced. This technology calls for designing programs in such a way that the user can see some pictures and icons on the monitor, and selects them for giving input, which is very easy for the user. A GUI divides a program into two parts. One part is for managing the data files, and the other to design pictures and icons to get input from the user. The first part is called the back end, and the second part is called the front end. In the meantime, more sophisticated file management techniques have also been introduced which allows more than one file to be manipulated by simple commands. This type of data file is called a Relational Database. The database management system which supports relational databases and relational features in called a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS). Oracle 2000 being a popular one. Oracle is given in several modules, which include:
- Oracle Workgroup 2000 (for the back end)
- Oracle Developer 2000 (for the front end)
- Oracle Designer 2000 (also for the front end)
- Oracle Power Object 2000 (also for the front end)
and Report Writer for designing and getting reports. There are some software which can be used only for the front end; such as applications software is called a front-end tool. Visual Basic, Visual C++ and Power Builder are some front-end tools. Visual Basic is normally used with the back-end tool called Access. It can also be used with oracle. Power Builder is popularly used with the RDBMS Sybase. Ingres, Informix, and Unify are some other RDBMS. Mainframe computers still use COBOL for business applications. Another system for business applications on mainframe computers in called DB/2.
The next important improvement in the field of computers in the concept of networking.
A network is a number of computers connected to each other. A centralized network is a network having a central computer (called a server) and other computers called nodes. A centralized airline reservation system has a server at the main office and nodes at all airports, travel agencies, etc. In some types of networks. No central server exists. All the computers are simply connected together through telephone connections and/or radio waves. In centralized networks, a remote node can communicate only with the server, whereas in the other type of software are needed for the system. The software needed to do the work of the node is called clients software. The software needed to run the central system is called the server. Clients always ask for resources (software and data files) from the server, which does the work of resource sharing.
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