Recently a FileMaker developer sent an e-mail to Alpha Software with his initial impressions of Alpha Five. He was looking for a better way to build attractive Web applications (because of the limited Web application abilities of FileMaker), and didn't think he could do it in Alpha Five.
The e-mail circulated around Alpha Software, eventually finding its way to me. I don't work for Alpha, but I am one of their VARs. I run a Web design firm (Defiant PC), and recently (over the summer) started using Alpha Five to build e-commerce and other sites for clients.
Someone at Alpha figured I'd be a good person for this skeptic to talk to, since I have used Alpha Five to build attractive desktop and Web database applications. I take my designs seriously (they are my career, after all).
I also have experience using popular Web design tools, including Dreamweaver, which I used to use exclusively.
Here's the e-mail that was sent to Alpha, and then to me.
"No question that Alpha Five has an impressive array of features, many that I wish FileMaker 9 had, but I don't see how anyone could make a professional looking application with it. While FileMaker 9 may not have all the features and capabilities of Alpha Five Version 8, it blows anything [away] you can design in Alpha Five.
I looked at all the templates that come with the program, and was not impressed. Then I looked under the hood at the design and programming mode. A lot of options, but not easy to figure out how to do it.
I will say I was impressed with all the options and functions that come with the program, but the lack of a professional design environment make it [a] no go for me. If you could take the superior design abilities of FileMaker 9 and combine that with the advanced features and functions of Alpha Five, then you'd really have something!"
I understand where he's coming from. When I first downloaded Alpha Five, I had the same first impression. Here's what I wrote back to him:
"Until approximately June of this year, we (Defiant PC) had virtually no experience working with the Alpha software. We downloaded the software, poked around, and initially came to the same conclusion that you did. However, coming from a background that deals primarily with Internet development and graphic design, we decided that building an API for a form would be similar to building an API for a Web site.
Turns out building an API for a desktop application in Alpha Five Version 8 is a snap. Furthermore, having literally no experience with desktop RAD software, I found the learning curve was minimal, and since June, we have produced desktop and Web applications in Alpha Five Version 8 that have exceeded our expectations ... For me, it couldn't get any easier!"
I also included these links to designs I've produced entirely in Alpha Five:
Golden Bear Stained Glass Studio
I also maintain AlphaDzine, a design resource for Alpha developers. I invite you to visit it. You'll find templates, workbooks, articles, and other helpful resources.