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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Alpha Five v.8 vs. FileMaker Pro 8.5

The following conversation is an extract from our Alpha message board. The question that started it was from a novice database user:

John Fringer:
I'm a novice at building databases, but I've somewhat successful built a couple of workable databases in Alpha Five V7. I've had many of the same issues that many of you have described (like browses, etc.).

I've always felt that the Alpha product was great, yet a little unstable at times. I'm sure the unstable comment will strike someones hot button and it's not intended too. I realize that I am the root cause of all my applications not working.

With that said, I have been playing around with Filemaker 8.5 and find that it is a bit easier to use, has a much softer and profession feel to it. But ... I'm sure it has limitations. Can anyone comment on what I'm missing? Does Filemaker have limitations that I just have encountered?

Please understand that I am not trying to rip on Alpaha -- the new version is an improvement and it is a great product.

Thanks.. John

That received a load of replies from our enthusiastic customers, including:

Bob Houle
Users are demanding more from their applications and I think Alpha's version 8 delivers, in spades.


Steve Bovino
I looked into Filemaker several years ago before deicidng to go with Alpha.

For me, Alpha clearly had the greater flexiblity. There were some things in Filemaker that I could not do the way I wanted. Alpha has never failed me there.

Also, working for a non profit organization, Alpha's pricing was by far the best for a web based application. Alpha has also been very responsive to bug fixes and enhancements. V8 is loaded with new features.

Lastly, the folks on this board make working with Alpha very enjoyable. Help is readily available. I have also developed with Access for many years and now work exclusivley with Alpha simply because it meets my needs and makes it realtively easy to deploy sophisticated desktop and web based applications.
- Steve

Marcel Kollenaar
Sure, Filemaker has enormous limitations and that is on the programming level. Filemaker has a script language but it isn't as versatile as Xbasic. Alpha has Xdialogs, try that in Filemaker. I programmed in Filemaker 5.5, 6 and a little in 8. Evert time I must admit that I need the Xbasic environment to do the job.
Kind Regards
Marcel Kollenaar

My curiosity was peeked with the recent posts about Filemaker 8.5 . I had looked at Filemaker years ago, but found it very difficult to accomplish much, since it was not really a database, with the ability to work with only one table at a time (this was a while ago) . It really was not very intuitive as to how to do things. I figured I would give another look, just to satisfy my curiosity. I found almost the same product that I had looked at YEARS ago. I am sure it has changed and advanced, but I could not see it. All the same terminology (which never made sense to me) and it still appeared to not be a “real” database. I uninstalled it almost as quickly as it had taken to download it, point being that it just was not intuitive as to the how everything fit together. I am sure that by Filemaker’s fan base that it must be able to accomplish something, but just know it is not for me.

I was able to do things with V8 that I would not even think of without it. The new security framework is just INCREDIBLE. It is simple to setup and understand (check out the screencast in the announcements section) I have been wanting to implement an intranet, but the amount of work involved with the different permission levels I needed kept me from doing it. I was able to demo the capabilities of the WSF within hours of installing it and could not be happier with it's performance.


So what was John Fringers response to all this?

John Fringer
I am sold on Alpha v8. Really like the new speed and feel. The V8 interface is much better looking than Filemaker.

I want to thank everyone for their thoughtful remarks and comments. At first glance I thought Filemaker was very cool - but when I tried to build an application - I too returned to Alpha to get the job done. Thanks again to everyone.

Enough said - if you want a serious database application development tool, Alpha beats Filemaker every time!

Shaw Millworks Goes Live with Alpha Five V8 Application

At Shaw Millworks today, we went live with a very cool web application that I built in Alpha 5 V8 to help manage our custom cabinetry and millwork shop. This web application provides :

  • Tracking the submission, revisions and approvals of architectural drawings and production CAD shop drawings for custom cabinet fabrication
  • Production forecasting, scheduling and progress
  • Material and hardware tracking
  • Invoice and payment Tracking
  • Shop and field communications tracking on a per item basis

The application includes :

  • A security framework that checks users credentials and allows specific users access to specific information
  • A detailed real time PDF reporting mechanism with data driven highlighting to help us focus in on the issues we deem important
  • Future development will include a direct link to associated CAD drawings and voice and video annotated memos associated with any item

What's really amazing is... I built this in just over a month with A5V8!

I used a lot of the new tools in A5V8. The new formatting options for grids are really awesome. The ability to set up columns, specify line breaks and use special formatting, ie; frames, etc. made it easy to display a ton of information in a clean easy to read format.

Once again ... you guys really did a great job with this release. Special thanks to you and to all of the members of the Alpha team for a truly amazing product.

You sure make me look like a hero!

Take a look at a movie overview of this application.

Shaw Millworks

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