Study: Online Conference Scheduling Application
Technologies used: Borland Delphi 5, Web Broker, Interbase 6,
ISAPI, Connection pooling
by: Agni Software Private Limited
A world famous software conference is increasing in strength
and number of attendees. Every year, the conference has an
increasingly large number of technical and other sessions,
lunches, birds-of-a-feather sessions and more. The biggest
problem of an attendee is one of scheduling: How is one to
schedule the best path through the conference, to gain the
maximum from it?
Agni Software has provided a solution: web based schedule
management. Attendees no longer need to mark their sessions
on large volumes of papers, not knowing where or what the
next session is about. They can launch a web browser weeks
before the conference, organize their schedule by searching
and adding sessions to a “personal schedule”,
and maintain it on the web. They can also print the schedule
or download it to their Palmtop computers. The load on both
the conference planners and attendees is reduced, and productivity
gains are maximum.
The biggest challenge was to ensure robustness, availability
and scalability. Since the application would only be relevant
for a few weeks, the conference vendor needed to ensure that
down time was kept to a minimum, be it server upgrades or
stability checks. Also the database needed to be available
for changes to sessions, rooms, speakers and keynotes.
The other challenge was time: Conferences are usually planned
a year in advance, but this application needed to be built
and deployed in days, not even weeks.
Agni Software built a robust, integrated solution that allowed
attendees to login, add their sessions to a personalized web
based scheduler that saved their schedule for them even after
they had logged off. Users could download their schedules
to a Palm or a Pocket PC, and integrate it with Microsoft
Outlook. They could also change their schedules online from
any PC, including those available at the conference.
The solution uses Borland’s WebBroker technology, and
was written in Borland Delphi 5.
The solution was tested using a number of regression and
load testing tools, and was found to support way beyond the
number of users prescribed by the conference vendor. The application
used a vast multi-threaded approach, with a thread pool, a
database pool and a connection pool to maximize the resource
usage and availability.
Integrated with Interbase 6, the application provided automatic
transaction management, and ensured the time taking activities
(such as database queries) were controlled in a “sandbox”.
The security of the application was paramount, since malicious
usage could lead to many unhappy users – the application
ensured all input parameters were checked and properly parameterized
before they were sent to the database.
The Palm support was added using a Conduit using the Conduit
components from TabDee Ltd. (www.tabdee.co.uk).
A Palm application was built for this purpose, using the Pascal
based Palm compiler, Pocket-Technologies (www.pocket-technologies.com).
The PocketPC area was built using a Microsoft Outlook integration
application that would synchronize with the PocketPC on demand.
||Web based schedule management
|Development Team Size
The solution provided was liked by a number of attendees
who showed their support and excitement on the conference
newsgroup. The Conference vendors were immensely pleased because
of the reduced support requests, and as members of Agni Software
who attended the conference noticed, the solution was in use
from PCs to Laptops and Palm/PocketPCs throughout the conference.
The scalability of the application was demonstrated by the
fact that the application never needed to scale out of the
machine it was first deployed in. The database was always
available and secure. All in all, it was a brilliantly executed
solution to the delight of the organizer and attendees of