The Technology Behind Audit Assistant



The Audit Assistant platform is primarily based in web application framework Ruby on Rails. We are however writing all our new modules using Node.js, a platform built on Chrome's JavaScript runtime for easily building fast, scalable network applications. We use a MySQL database. 

We assessed different development tools and techniques including the Microsoft .NET platform with which we were familiar from the previous version but found Rails to be extremely powerful for this type of development. It is becoming commonly used in Software as a Service (SaaS) projects. The core development team has been Clive (design and content) and Matt (software architect and programmer) as directors of the company.

Matt is a specialist in web-based software plus providing graphic design work and has been involved in Audit Assistant since its early days. He has followed his passion in software and graphic design into his own career as a software architect and programmer. He has been lead developer on a number of significant web-based projects including the official Northland Community Services Directory He is part of the the Node.js developers community in Wellington.

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a major trend in software. A 2008 survey noted:

Innovation in the software industry is on the upswing, with Software as a Service (SaaS) being a key driver. The SaaS model is becoming mainstream and this has led to the rise of a new generation of SaaS platforms (also referred to in the industry as Platform-as-a-Service – PaaS). This year’s survey of more than 850 enterprise software customers ...and the Software and Interop conferences showed increasing acceptance of subscription and on-demand models but more surprisingly, a high portion (74 percent) of enterprise customers favorably disposed to adopting SaaS platforms.

We have gained considerable encouragement from the successful examples of:

Xero: A NZ publicly listed company providing accounting software for SME’s and now for Chartered Accountants. They are successfully selling internationally. We use Xero is our accounting software and Clive is a Xero Certified partner.

37 Signals: A small Chicago based company which operates world-wide with over 1 million users and key developers of Ruby on Rails. They say: We believe most software is too complex. Too many features, too many buttons, too much confusion. We build easy to use web-based products with elegant interfaces and thoughtful features. We’re focused on executing on the basics beautifully. We share this design philosophy and also use Ruby on Rails, the open-source web-app framework on which they base their SaaS solutions.

Zendesk: A small Denmark based company providing online Helpdesk services in a SaaS format. Also based on Ruby on Rails and with worldwide penetration. This helpdesk/ blog is run on Zendesk.

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