No Pain, No Gain

Some web apps have been converted from old desktop software, often Microsoft Access programs. To the customer there isn't much benefit to using a web app converted from Access. The desktop firm is the one gaining the most. It's an easy way to offer a web app without any development effort. Run the Access code through the converter, migrate the databases, and voila! Instant web app!

There's a downside for the customer; the developers didn't learn the languages used to develop new web apps from scratch. This means they'll be inadequate for enhancing their web app with new features and functions and extending it to take advantage of all the goodies web development has to offer.

The easy way to see if somebody is selling a converted Access program as a web app is by looking at it. If it looks like an old desktop program, it probably is.

Smoke & Mirrors

Some old software programs are served up over the cloud. They weren't written using web development languages. They are virtualized. Using these programs can be slow and clunky. It often requires entire screen images to be downloaded as the user navigates and uses the program.

There are many downsides for the customer. The user must download and install special virtualization software to access and operate the desktop program. This makes it cumbersome and inconvenient for passengers to log in and book or see their orders.

There’s a quick way to determine if something is a virtualized desktop program. If it looks like an old desktop system, chances are it is. If it looks more like a website, then it most likely is a real web app.

Old Versus New

Fortunately for customers, web apps have made possible a major change in the pricing model. Old school pricing was based upon a large initial licensing fee, often supplemented with on-site training fees and/or expensive hardware and software installation fees. Additionally, there were annual support contracts costing about 15 percent of the original purchase price.

Web apps allow for a new pricing model, monthly or annual subscriptions. Vendors have the ability to create online tutorial and help videos, which reduces costs. They can supplement online assistance, which makes on-site training no longer a mandatory element of getting an operation up and running. And because web apps are hosted, all the installation work (establishing customer access, data conversion, and database creation) can be done from the vendor's site. Also, due to the ability to integrate a shopping cart with the web app, customers can pay for their subscription online, which covers both licensing and support.

Unfortunately, there are a few transit web app vendors using the old school pricing model.
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