In 1997, Viher's founding partners contacted us with their idea of a real-estate search engine on the Internet. This would be a completely innovative project in Portugal, at the time.
This portal should allow visitors to search for various real-estate products based on minimum number of rooms, maximum price and a Portuguese geographical region (concelho). The database should be able to be searched in any of two languages, but expansible for more. The database should also be able to be maintained by Viher itself using a browser*.
Our solution included security for the backoffice section and support to a series of extra features such as multiple currency support, multiple countries and geographical regions, configurable real-estate types, etc..
This was a very ambitious project at the time and it provided us with huge expertise and knowledge of two languages and three database engines.
The database was one of the most complex we ever built for a Web project.
Viher initially showed preference for Microsoft's ASP language, then in its first version. The database engine was Jet (the same of Microsoft Access) with the following relationship map:
Unfortunately this revealed to be a poor choice. The constant instability of Microsoft's server made the portal unreliable making it hard for Viher to show their clients they had a serious product to bet on.
For respect to our client and to better understand the situation, we rebuilt the portal this time in PHP version 2 (PHP/FI) with an mSQL database back-end. This choice has been decisive in our preference for this language ever since because the portal became faster and more stable, showing no further problems. Some months later the portal was adapted to PHP version 3 and the MySQL database.