Gary Hopkins
Les Schwab Tire Centers
Gary build his Web-based application in just a couple of hours!

Store Reporting System

Les Schwab Tire Centers
Prineville, OR USA

Gary Hopkins leads a two-man .NET development team as part of the 128-person IT department at Les Schwab Tires, the largest independent tire manufacturer in the Western United States. For years, every one of the store managers and assistant managers at 360 stores updated the intranet data by emailing or faxing information to Gary's team and then waited for them to have time to input the data. Since this was just one of many document-centric activities at the company, the IT team was moving everything to IIS and the .NET Framework in order to automate functions, improve service to store management, and save time and money on all ends of the process.

"We were using Visual Studio .NET Enterprise, and I quickly realized that building an editable data grid was hard," Gary says. "I went looking for a helpful tool and found Iron Speed Designer."

"I downloaded it and saw immediately that this was much more than just limited components, this was really the answer to my dreams," he says. Gary used Iron Speed Designer to create an entire application customized to his needs that linked to his current SQL Server database. Since it was a pretty simple application involving just thousands of records, a couple of multi-table joins and one editable form with various report views, the whole application was built in a few hours. No code extensions were needed. Gary showed it to the rest of the development team that day and launched it to employees the next.

"I started out thinking I just wanted an online form," Gary says. "I found a lot of functionality in Iron Speed Designer that enhanced our original goal by creating new database tables, changing the page controls, sorting and filtering, and adding custom controls on the view report page. A painful, four-step, manual process is now one step, and automated!"

The Gary Hopkins story

As Gary's shop moves from hand-coding everything to adopting modern methodologies, several code generation and component tools have been evaluated and abandoned along the way. "The system was proprietary or too complex or the generated code was bulky and slow, and hardly useful," Gary says of some of the other tools tried. "We are looking for advanced features. We need tools that work in our current environment."

"I have three criteria for any tool," Gary says. "It has to work with my other tools and platforms; it has to be able to deploy what is promised in working, quality code; and I need to be able to get help from the vendor if and when I need it."

"Iron Speed Designer excelled on all three points. I kept thinking, 'This is too good to be true. It will fail at any moment now.' But it never did."

"Of course Iron Speed Designer does not create 100% of your application," Gary says. But the time-consuming parts are the first 80% or so. "Getting anything sophisticated on the .NET Framework is great, but what we really need on the ground right now are tools that make .NET more usable."

Web apps in every-day roles

"We haven't even scratched the surface of this tool's power. The application code is rock solid and it deploys on .NET without a hitch. We immediately upgraded our purchase to the Enterprise Edition. I'm planning to use it for more and more complex applications going forward."

What's next?

"No wonder this tool works so well. It is designed by folks who have practical development experience. Everyone here keeps saying, 'Wow.'"

About the developer

A native Oregonian, Gary has been a programmer for more than 30 years. Like many developers, he's evolved from his mainframe roots to master application development on the .NET Framework. Gary is the Project Lead on .Net Technologies at Les Schwab Tire Centers and has been using Iron Speed Designer since 2003.
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