Alpha Software is focused on enabling developers to create robust, data-driven business applications that run on any PC, Tablet or Smartphone in the fastest, most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Golden Triangle Computer Club

Take a look at http://www.gtpcc.org/gtpcc/alphafive8.htm - it is a review by Dale Farris of the Golden Triangle PC Club on Alpha Five V8.

Thanks for the mention Dale,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Microsoft and Yahoo Merger - What does this mean for Applications?

Most of you have probably seen some of the hype the last few days surrounding the rumours of a merger or partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo. In an obvious effort to put the brakes on Google, these two giants could really make the world of SaaS (software as a service) applications really hot up.

If you haven't yet seen the rumours, the New York Times had a good article today.

Interestingly Google has never really seen Yahoo as it's major competitor, it has always been Microsoft - the king of the desktop. Google has been busy using it's position as the dominant force of all things Internet to launch a bid to take over our usage of applications and the day-to-day running of our businesses. There are lots of free Google apps out there and now a small number of paid-for services too.

I don't think Microsoft will buy Yahoo - they have better ways to spend $42 Billion - but I do believe there may be a partnership that sees Microsoft applications sold across the Yahoo networks and a merging of their search and advertising revenues. Combined, Yahoo and MSN can just about compete with Google.

Read some of Phil Wainewright's blog for great posts on all things SaaS and David Berlind for his opinion on how Google is looking to compete with Microsoft Office.

The big boys have started to realize the future potential in online, on-demand applications and the battle lines are being drawn out...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Day 3 - Alpha Software User Conference

It's the final morning of the conference now and it really has been an event packed full of great talks and workshop sessions - so congratulations to all those people who gave up their time to put together such good material.

As I mentioned yesterday, Jerry Brightbill was hosting a session on Security in the morning. He started with the fundamentals of security, why it is needed and how it works before moving on to discuss how web security works with the new Alpha security component in Version 8. It was a great session and very well received by everyone.

Steve Wood also gave an excellent talk on web application hosting, starting from the ground up he covered the basics of hosting across a LAN and moved on to multiple application hosting and integration with 3rd party tools.

Frances Peake talked about data and reporting, with a very hands-on session that explained proven methods to getting the results you want and explore the advanced solutions for real-world reporting challenges. She was specifically focused on tricks for grouping and summarizing records, using Action Scripting and the Xdialog genie to prompt users for report criteria, report performance optimisation and exporting report results.

Over the next few weeks we will be having more indepth interviews with many of the talkers at the conference and posting up more detailed overviews of their subject matter for everyone who couldn't make it to the conference this year.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Day 2 - Alpha User Conference

The first day of the conference was a roaring success with most of the attendees already confirming that they have learned new tips and techniques that are worth the entry fee. That's good for us to know - Alpha Five is such a powerful, flexible tool that there will always be new things to learn.

We had Jerry Brightbill talking about Desktop Layout Builders, which focused on new features in Alpha Five V8 for formatting and customizing layouts other than reports. This included a how-to guide on using the dockable Task Panes and best practise with the new stylesheet options, using gradients and other fill options.

One of the best-attended sessions was Stupid Xbasic Function & Code Tricks (Not!) by Ira Perlow. Ira covered the hidden secrets and uses of Xbasic code and functions, with particular focus on how to write Xbasic functions so that they do more than trivial tasks and are also reusable in many ways. Of particular interest to me was the section about the opening, closing and error handling code of a function.

Al Buchholz hosted a session on Alpha Five and Quickbooks and more specifically how your database can communicate with a Quickbooks company file using the QODBC. Al covered the Alpha DAO in detail and demonstrated how easy it is to read and write to Quickbooks with either a desktop or web application.

Today should be another busy day with around 9 sessions on offer with the Application Security session and Developer Tools Showcase promising to be popular.

Vegas Roulette Update: A few of us hit the Bellagio last night with most people confident of continuing their good fortune. After walking around the opulent hotel for about an hour we did find some tables that were less than a $50 minimum bet, we had some mixed success. Personally, lady luck was smiling and I left with more than I came in with... but other people finally realized that the house always win in the end!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Annual Alpha User Conference Starts in Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas!

The Annual User Conference for the Alpha Community has started this morning and it promises to be a great event for the 70 or so users that have made the trip to Sin City.

The event has opened with a quick MasterClass from several of our most senior developers - people who have been using Alpha for 15-20 years and have built many successful applications for blue chip companies and the SMB sector alike.

Highlights of the conference promise to be our own Jerry Brightbill giving an overview of how non-programmers can build a web database in under 2 days. Iva Perlow, a seasoned Alpha developer, is giving tips and tricks for developers to use the powerful XBasic tool to save development time and increase functionality. Other topics include using Alpha within HTML authoring tools such as DreamWeaver, migrating from Access to Alpha, Report Filtering and using QODBC to exchange data with Quickbooks among many others.

However, we are all in Vegas so it's not just about the work! So far, several of our developers seem to have hit the tables with quite a bit of success - personally I made a slight loss on the roulette tables last night. But today is another day...

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