A new Alpha convert recently wrote an article about why he chose to go with Alpha over other development platforms, including Crystal Reports, which had been one of his primary tools for years.
I thought this was a great real-life story of how Alpha Five can fit developers' needs, when most other RADs fall short. Enjoy!
Why we selected Alpha Five over Crystal Reports and other solutions.
By NICHOLAS WIELAND
As a software solution provider, our clients need us to stay competitive and cost effective. This meant constantly reviewing the set of tools we use to provide our service. Because we specialize in Accounting, flexible and comprehensive reporting were of primary concern.
For many years our primary tools have been Crystal Reports (reporting), Dotnetnuke (website), Visual Basic (Windows Mobile Solutions) and our customers use QuickBooks Pro/Enterprise, Mas90, Navision, Macola, Exact and many other accounting packages.
In the Fall of 2007 a client asked us to build a completely web-based solution that included complex reporting. We needed to find a new software development tool – one that would let us develop the application in a single environment and do it faster than we knew our current tools would let us.
About Alpha Five
I found Alpha Five and read reviews on it from sites like Techrepublic.com, cnet.com, Infoworld.com, and PCworld.com. The reviews looked “too good to be true”, especially regarding ultra-quick development times and other RAD features. Alpha Five has a strong developer community so we read through comments by the developers on the Alpha Software message board about the pros and cons of the product.
- Developers really tried to help one another -- good, we would need that if we adopted Alpha Five.
- It seemed that Alpha Software personnel responded to bug reports/issues quickly.
- It appeared that the President and CEO of the Alpha Software played an active role.
We downloaded Alpha Five version 9 and started to play with it. Being fluent with Crystal Reports and Excel, I very much liked what I saw. I asked questions on the message board and found a good consultant to work with for this specific project. In short order, I knew using Alpha Five would be a very positive step for our company.
Our decision to use Alpha Five was based on our 25 years of Accounting Software development experiences. We know what we need!
Many Accounting and Development Software Packages utilize Crystal as the report writer portion of their software. Microsoft uses it in Visual Basic and or .Net Studio software – they embed it as their reporting tool. Many Accounting Software packages provide the same e.g. Exact Software ES product allows you to update reports using Crystal as many others.
Crystal Reports is an industry standard! There are others like Swift reporting, Jet reports and Finer Edge. But they did not offer us the advantages of Alpha Five!
Alpha Five included more than just reporting:
- Web development
- Intranet database applications
- Internet database applications
- Desktop applications and reporting too!
About our Web Development skills:
We have an intimate knowledge of Webmatrix from initial attempts to build our website. We certainly know of and understand Visual Basic because of our Mobile Order Entry Solutions. Our own website uses Dotnet (dukedotnet) as the foundation for its deployment and we will soon be converted to Dukedotnet 5.1 alongside Alpha Five.
Yes, you can do anything with .ASP and other tools. In fact, there are thousands of components to chose from. But Alpha Five has everything built in, right at your finger tips.
Here is a Real Life Situation.
June 1, 2008 we receive a call from a MAS90 dealer whom we have been trying to sell our Windows Mobile Solutions since 2005. The dealer says, “can you design a database AND a work flow AND program FINISHED BY July 15?" This was the start of customer’s busy season. The program had to be accessed by an office in another part of the state, a Web application was the perfect solution!
Prior to this we had built two software applications using Alpha Five:
- (Mfg – Available to Promise) from two separate SQL databases
- 10 different PSQL databases to report via one for Collections (for a publishing company).
Now we had to provide a turnkey, database, Intranet solution that covered a manufacturer process. And we had a project that needed to be completed FAST!
If we had used an .ASP tool like Webmatrix, Visual Basic or Visual Studio and SQL, this project would have the following problems:
- Cost would have been prohibitive.
- Our deadline would have been missed
- We would have required more hardware, e.g. SQL Server.
- We would not have been an option that would allow us to deliver on time.
The ONLY way this project could be installed was using ALPHA FIVE to create an Intranet application. BY JULY 18 we had installed this application, and had it running in one of the largest food processing plants in Maine.
Our decision to get on onboard and use Alpha Five was an outstanding one and changed how our company approaches software development for the positive. Any other decision and we would not have be able to deliver in 30 days the functionality needed by a major Food Processing Facility. Our .Net skills would not be able to deliver this