Forum: Ruby on Rails Complex Medical Application

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Ted W. (Guest)
on 2005-11-23 16:46
Our company has a browser-based medical application. The user interface
is a bit clunky/cumbersome, but the application itself is quite
powerful. The application currently utlizes a Java/XML/XSL based server
and ALL rendering is done with 100% XML/XSL.

We have just completed a usability study and we have determined that we
must incoporate a different user interface technology in order to
provide a better user experience. I have started looking at AJAX, SWT,
Swing, .NET, Atlas, Eclipse framework, etc. So far, I really like the
idea of an AJAX-based approach because it requires no additional
software on the client. However, I am concerned about the amount of work
involved in doing this.

I have recently discovered RoR, and I really like the language.
Apparently, it also provides a framework for doing AJAX applications.
However, I'm not sure the "framework" can handle the complexity of our
application. Our application (and UI) is 100% data driven, e.g. the
initial "tabs" that come up with the application are dynamic and based
on data in a database. The application consists of "default" data that
allows the application to run "unmodified". HOWEVER, medical facilities
and specific physicians can override the "default" behavior of the
application (tabs, inputs) to generate facility specific and physician
specific medical documentation. The underlying inputs are driven by
complex "decision trees" that represent complex medical procedures, e.g.
knee arthroscopy, shoulder arthroscopy, etc.

So, I have a few questions:

1. Can RoR handle complex applications that have complex backend
databases?

2. Where can I find a RoR consultant to help assess the feasibility of
using RoR for our application.

3. Apparently, RoR has built in support for tabs. Our application
requires different tabs for different facilities, and this is defined by
a database. Can the RoR tabs be generated dynamically based on data in a
database? At a brief glance, it looks like RoR is based on HTML
templates, and I am assuming that the tabs would be specified in these
templates. The problem is that the template itself is dynamic.

Thanks.
Matthew <> (Guest)
on 2005-11-23 17:15
Check out Ezra's post about how he redid the Yakarta Herald website for
an example of how rails can do complexity:

http://brainspl.at/articles/2005/11/03/from-start-...

5000 lines of php done in 1800 of ROR and as far as I can work out :-)
he has 4 different DBs (and different formats) plugged into one
interface through rails.

Looks complex enough to me.
rick (Guest)
on 2005-11-23 17:54
(Received via mailing list)
* Ted Walters (removed_email_address@domain.invalid) [051123 09:50]:
> 1. Can RoR handle complex applications that have complex backend
> databases?

Yes.  You will have greater or lesser degrees of headaches depending
upon how far away from the Rails default style your legacy database
schema travels.  I would probably focus my time first on assessing how
much work Rails is going to take to work well/easily with your current
database schema.

> 2. Where can I find a RoR consultant to help assess the feasibility of
> using RoR for our application.

Look on the Rails wiki.  There's a page of people offering Rails
services that's quite extensive.  My guess is that you may just well
receive some offers merely by having sent the email I'm responding to.

> 3. Apparently, RoR has built in support for tabs. Our application
> requires different tabs for different facilities, and this is defined by
> a database. Can the RoR tabs be generated dynamically based on data in a
> database? At a brief glance, it looks like RoR is based on HTML
> templates, and I am assuming that the tabs would be specified in these
> templates. The problem is that the template itself is dynamic.

Should be no problem.  Ruby is the engine behind Rails and Ruby is
*very* powerful.  Further, Rails supports alternate templating
interfaces, and really there's no limit on what sorts of views you could
generate.

Rick
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