Web Help Desk
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Technician Ticket Detail and Client Help Request
|Developer(s)||MacsDesign Studio LLC|
12.0.1 / July 23, 2013
|Operating system||Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris|
Web Help Desk is a web-based, help desk software used for tracking support requests for enterprises and educational institutions. While primarily used by Information Technology departments, the software is utilized in other support environments (Facilities Management, Human Resources, etc.). The software was written by MacsDesign Studio LLC, based in Fremont, CA. On July 25, 2012 the product was acquired and is now supported by SolarWinds.
Web Help Desk is proprietary software, with license and annual maintenance fees based on the number of support representative seats.
- Web-based interface
- Automatic ticket routing based on request type, location and department
- E-mail ticket creation or updates for end users and support staff
- Reporting module with automatic scheduling options
- LDAP or local database authentication
- Asset management including integration with Absolute Manage, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, JAMF Software Casper Suite and Apple Remote Desktop
- FAQ knowledge base
- Inventory and parts tracking
- Written using Apple's WebObjects Java frameworks
- Supports MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, FrontBase, PostgreSQL and OpenBase as the RDBMS
Version 1.0 release was in 1999 as a Macintosh only web application utilizing FileMaker Pro and Lasso and served using WebSTAR. At its release, it was the only commercial web-based help desk product available for Mac OS 9. Up to version 4.0, the application remained dependent upon Lasso as the programming language.
Version 4.0, released in January 2001, marked a new chapter in the development story with the transition to the PHP scripting language and MySQL as the database. Although the application was still available as a FileMaker Pro/Lasso solution, the option to run the application under open source projects on the newly available Mac OS X 10.0 provided the application with a unique niche in the fledging Mac OS X market.
In May 2001, Apple released WebObjects 5.0, freshly ported from Objective-C to Java, to the Mac OS X developer community. Web Help Desk development was moved completely over to WebObjects, with version 5.0 released in September, 2001. WebObjects 5.0 was also available for Windows and Solaris—this provided the first cross platform deployment opportunity for the Web Help Desk.
The Web Help Desk  currently uses WebObjects 5.4 frameworks, and is typically run as a servlet in the Apache Tomcat servlet container, but can also be deployed as a traditional WebObjects application on Mac OS X Server.
The application uses several open source frameworks, including:
- Project Wonder - Java frameworks extending WebObjects
- Apache FOP - Java framework to render PDF
The Web Help Desk is notable as one of the earliest web-based help desk solutions, and as one of the only commercial software packages using WebObjects as the development platform—the same server side frameworks used by iTunes and the Apple Online Store. The application is also notable as an example of how a small ISV successfully transitioned a niche, Mac-only, application into a widely distributed cross-platform solution. It is used by Apple Inc., and other major technology, manufacturing, and media corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Time Warner Cable, as well as many major universities.