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Case Studies 

Microsoft Visual Studio .NET delivers flexible system that easily interfaces with existing systems.

Travelfat
Published March 2003

Situation

Communicraft, the web services and interface specialists, designed and implemented an adaptable package for Travelfat that supports all the requirements of Travelfat's online reservation and information system for independent travellers. Travelfat's clients and partners can take bookings online via their own site that is linked in through an extranet into the main reservation system. The clients or partners can also earn new revenue through access to inventory products and activities via ongoing interaction with the traveller throughout his/her journey. Costs per booking can be substantially reduced by using the system in-house or by its back-end uses in call centres or online.

The reservation system can be logically divided into two distinct parts. The first part was the back office system that is deployed as a windows application. The second part that was implemented by Communicraft enabled the system to be used online.

Solution: Visual Studio .NET and Communicraft

Communicraft's expertise lies in the presentation and development of digital information for mobile and web applications using cutting edge technologies such as XML, .NET and Web Services, to increase clients' competitiveness and return on investment in a rapidly changing business world.

Travelfat is a reservation system designed to cater for the needs of the independent traveller. The back-end system was developed using Microsoft® ® Visual Studio® ®.NET with Microsoft Visual C#® #® as the programming language. The development environment allowed the quick and easy deployment of the various components that were required for the system. The system was developed to run with SQL Server™ 2000 Database. The reservation system can be logically divided into two distinct parts. The first part was the back office system that is deployed as a windows application. The second part enabled the system to be used as part of an online booking and reservation system.

The online booking and reservation system is built using XML Web Services on a Microsoft .NET platform. It was easy to render the components of the back office system as web services, allowing development to proceed very quickly. Even if the back office system had been developed using COM components with Visual C++®® or Visual Basic®® it would still have been relatively simple to upgrade these components to be .NET compatible.

The front-end system developed by Communicraft communicates with the web services by using SOAP requests and responses through ASPX (ASP .NET) files. Deploying this XML approach helps to ensure that a clean separation is maintained between presentation information, content and functionality. The user interface deploys ASPX files that make use of XSLT, which is bound to the SOAP responses that are in XML format.

Using XSLT means that the whole user interface and not just fonts, colours and images can be regenerated for another Travelfat client under the new clients' branding and look and feel without needing to make any changes to the application software. This approach allows the application to be rolled out under a completely new user interface to other third party websites in a period as short as a couple of weeks, and with a small efficient team of as little as one or two people.

Benefits: Flexible adaptable system

Travelfat supplies the clients with individually tailored front-ends. XSLT has enabled the company to alter these front-ends for clients with a minimum of time and effort, allowing clients' branding and look and feel to be easily incorporated. . NET supports the ability to customize a large number of clients' systems without altering the core system and allows projects to be developed on time and within budget.

Strong professional support
The Travelfat's development team was already well versed in Microsoft's Visual Studio and Microsoft Visual C++. Converting to Microsoft Visual C# was an easy transition made even easier by the technical support available on Microsoft's web-based site.

Reduction in costs
There was a significant reduction in costs due to increased processing efficiencies and much simpler data entry procedures. Clients have screens that are tailored to their specific requirements, making for greater levels of productivity.

Increased sales revenue
Additional revenue can be earned from travellers with a minimum of effort on the part of the travel agents as their customers can easily log on to the system and make alterations or purchase additional facilities.

Quick development
As the back office system had already been developed in Microsoft Visual C# on the .NET platform, the components could be rendered as web services. This made the development easy and quick allowing code to be seamlessly integrated in just four weeks.

Reduced integration time for User Interface
UI (User Interface) integration time is reduced from what is normally a week of integration and bug fixing to a single day, as the XML Schema provides the interface between the UI and the application itself. The UI was defined in the initial phase of the project, allowing UI developers and application developers to work completely independently, in the knowledge that once the application produces compliant XML, the UI can present it perfectly.

Summary

There were many synergies made available as a result of deploying Microsoft's .NET platform. Existing back-end systems that had been written using the .NET platform were easily integrated into the new system in a minimum of time. The deployment of Microsoft Visual Studio .NET enabled the construction of a user interface that is easy and quick to tailor to the requirements of individual partners.


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