Project planning data collected by the Analysis, Planning, and Tracking (APT) system during the planning cycle previously was available to users via an email request to a data administrator who would pull data from the database, format as requested, and respond via email. Access to the data was limited by the availability of the data administrator. The APT Web Tool greatly expands data accessibility, while still providing some of the custom filtering and formatting that the e-mail request process provided.
The APT Web Tool is a Web-based application that imports project planning data in a specified format and makes that data available to users online via a Web browser as filterable data sets and pre-formatted reports. Project planning data is collected and formatted to the APT Web Tool's specifications by a data administrator. The administrator then loads the data through the tool's browser-based interface into a MySQL database that serves as the tool's primary data repository.
Access to data is controlled internally by the tool according to a multi-level release code system. Most data loaded to the Web tool is for wide distribution (available to all users). The tool administrator must grant access to limited-distribution data on a per-user basis. Users access the data by entering the tool's URL in their Web browser, and the tool's user interface (UI) is presented as a Web site. Through the UI, users make requests for data from the repository. A set of CGI scripts (coded in Perl) processes the request and returns an HTML response to the user's browser.
Data that was available only on an as-requested basis is now widely available and easily accessible. Users can create customized queries to display/download the approved planning information they require. Additionally, users can perform all of these activities using a Web browser, which reduces the amount of development required to build custom tools or applications that are maintained on users’ desktops or devices.