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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Thursday, January 29, 2009

A guide for the aspiring entrepreneur

It's scary out there. And it doesn't look like it's going to get better very quickly. A few weeks ago, I talked about the U.S.'s soaring unemployment rates, and things have only gotten worse since then. But my message remains the same: If you've been laid off (or even if you're still employed), now's the best time to start that business you've always dreamed of.

I came across an article in BusinessWeek this week that I thought could be a great help to anyone considering taking that leap. In the article, John Tozzi gives his 20-step guide to self-employment, and tackles some of the more intimidating questions of entrepreneurship, such as healthcare, taxes, and expenses.

Consider the slide show and article guides to go from unemployment to employment. I hope you find them helpful.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Alpha Five e-book helps developers move Microsoft Access applications online

Last week, Richard told you about Alpha's new downloadable 40-page e-book, which simplifies the usually difficult and tedious process of moving your Microsoft Access desktop applications to the Web.

The press release officially announcing the availability of the guide went out today, and I figured it would be a perfect time to remind you to check it out today!

New Alpha Five E-Book Helps Developers Move Microsoft Access Applications Online

Penned by a top technical writer, free guide shows users how to transform their desktop Access databases into full-blown, AJAX-powered Web apps with Alpha Five Version 9

BURLINGTON, Mass. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Alpha Software has released a new, 40-page downloadable e-book, dubbed, “Moving an MS Access Database Application to the Web with Alpha Five Version 9.” The free title provides step-by-step instructions that will help any developer who wants to move Microsoft Access desktop database and applications to the Web. The e-book, which simplifies what’s usually a tedious process, is written by Martin Heller, an experienced Web and desktop application developer and database designer, and the author of thousands of technical articles and several programming books.

“Alpha Software asked me to provide an instructional, easy-to-follow guide that would help users transfer their Microsoft Access applications to the Web, using Alpha Five,” Heller says. “I’m not endorsing Alpha Software or Microsoft here. But I am giving developers an easy way to add power and usability to their applications, without having to devote weeks of their time. No one can deny the importance of the Web, especially when you’re trying to reach a large audience of users. It’s important that developers be able to accomplish that with speed and scalability, and with this guide, I’m showing them how.”

The e-book shows users how to migrate existing Access schema and data, and then connect them to Web forms built with Alpha Five. The process uses seven high-level Alpha Web components, AJAX widgets, and HTML, based on existing Access forms. Readers will learn to use Alpha Five’s HTML Designer to rapidly add saved components to a Web page. They’ll use Alpha’s Builders to configure page components, recreating forms in Alpha in less time than it took to create desktop Access forms. They see how they can interweave HTML and Xbasic code on the server to process queries and forms on Web pages, operate on a database, and display formatted data. And they’ll learn how to tap Alpha Five’s built-in SQL capabilities to improve database scalability.

“Martin has given us an outstanding addition to our customer education library,” says Richard Rabins, Co-Chairman of Alpha Software. “We take pride in delivering intuitive tools to build great-looking and well-performing applications. And that means we need to provide developers with a steady diet of training materials, so they can take full advantage of the power a rich Web database application like Alpha Five provides. The need to move legacy MS Access apps to the Web is increasingly important for companies looking to increase their competitiveness with modern, cost-effective Web and intranet systems. With this new e-book, we’re making the move from Access on the desktop to Alpha on the Web fast, easy, and best of all, free.”

For more information on Alpha’s new technical guide, as well as information on instructional videos, white papers, and educational books, visit www.AlphaSoftware.com, the company blog at http://blog.alphasoftware.com/, or contact Marketing@AlphaSoftware.com.

ABOUT ALPHA SOFTWARE

Since 1982, Alpha Software has been providing developers with award-winning tools that make it easy to rapidly build robust database and business applications. Today over 1 million developers rely on Alpha Software’s flagship platform, Alpha Five, to build desktop, client-server, distributed, Web 2.0, and AJAX applications for organizations of any size—from SOHO to the Fortune 100. Every day, tens of millions of people and businesses rely on applications built in Alpha Five. With the introduction of Alpha Five Version 9 Platinum Edition in 2008, Alpha Software set new standards for speed of development, portability, reporting, and security for database applications of all stripes. The company is privately held, and based in Burlington, Mass. Alpha Software can be found on the Web at http://www.alphasoftware.com.

Review copies available for press and bloggers.

PRESS RESOURCES

Alpha Five Platinum microsite

Alpha Software blog

Alpha Software home page

USER REFERENCES, IMAGES, AND PRESS EVALUATION COPIES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST.

How affordable tech is changing the future

There was an article in this Sunday's New York Times about how today's new, more affordable technology is helping bring down high-tech conglomerates such as Apple and Microsoft, just as much as the collapse of Wall Street.

With almost every American wallet taking a hit over the past year, many tech consumers are opting for the $200 netbook, instead of the $1,500 MacBook. But it isn't just consumers. Companies are taking advantage of free or cheaper Internet services to keep their bills low.

More companies than ever are running their internal technology processes by taking advantage of the Web. They're also using free e-mail and online document services from companies such as Google, instead of buying their own, expensive hardware and software systems from Microsoft or Oracle.

But that's not the only takeaway from this story. Today's economy is increasingly driving web (and intranet) based computing.  Clearly the need exists and is growing for tools to easily build fast, AJAX-powered Web database apps with security and reporting (that will run on all browsers, including netbooks, Iphones, Macs and PC's) - and that is exactly what we see our mission at Alpha Software for Alpha Five.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ask a Developer: How do you convert an app to Alpha Five from another platform?

The Alpha team recently received an e-mail from a customer with a development question. I thought it would be a great one to share with our blog readers, just in case there's anyone else out there wondering how to tackle the same project.

I have been a user of Alpha Five Version 8, and would like to convert an app from Filemaker to Alpha [Five Version] 9.

I did not see the line item "image uploads" in your grid. This was an issue with prior documentation.

I did not know if users can upload images using the Web application of Alpha [Five Version] 9. I know so far FileMaker cannot do this unless you purchase a plugin from another developer. I don't know if this plugin now works on the FileMaker 10 server, or if my host can install it without huge fees.

Please let me know about this, as I am considering rebuilding everything using Alpha.
The team sent this question my way, and here's my answer.

File uploads in a Web application can be done a number of ways, all of which Alpha can support, although all methods require a bit of coding in Alpha Xbasic.

The easiest way is to use a standard HTML input control. HTML supports a control type of file that always opens with a text box with a "browse" button beside it. Because this is a standard control, the button can not be changed or styled.

The button opens the standard file selection window on the client computer to select a file. Then the page can be submitted and the file contents captured. The entire process in covered in this Help File.

This method does not currently have Genie support to add the control to a grid or dialog, primarily because each instance is usually unique to the type of file, target location, and any file data updates that may result for the upload.

More advanced processes might require a third party upload program. There are a number of these available, although the most popular is probably Image Uploader by Aurigma. They provide an API with extensive support information. While such controls require more coding and a license, they do work with Alpha Five.

I hope this helps! Do you have a question for an Alpha developer? Send your Alpha inquiries to Jerry@AlphaSoftware.com, and you might even see it featured here on the blog.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Best in breed: The top 10 most popular pooches

Yesterday, the American Kennel Club released its list of the Top 10 Dogs of the Year. The AKC whittled through the 157 registered breeds to find the most in demand four-legged companions. The Labrador Retriever took home the gold for the 18th year in a row. That's one top dog!

But of course, you know my (and my daughter's) heart belongs to a certain Irish Setter. And let's not forget Bridget's affinity for those whacky mutts. Who's your top dog?

And because I have a feeling Bridget would chew me out (get it?) if I didn't throw this in: If you're thinking about adding a furry family member to your household, before you go to a pet shop or breeder, consider rescuing a dog in need. As we know, times are tough, and more dogs than ever need homes. Find a pup in need near you!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Moving an MS Access database to the Web with Alpha Five

There's no denying the power of the Web. And today, more than ever, it's important for you to be able to harness that power for the benefit of your business. That's why we put together a 40-page downloadable e-book, dubbed, "Moving an MS Access Database Application to the Web with Alpha Five Version 9."

Penned by Martin Heller -- an experienced Web and desktop application developer and database designer, and the author of thousands of technical articles and several programming books -- the e-book simplifies the usually difficult and tedious process of moving your Microsoft Access desktop applications to the Web.

A press release will go out this week officially announcing the guide's availability, but you know me. I just couldn't wait to spread the news. Hopefully you'll find this e-book a valuable resource. Enjoy!

Online presence: It's more than just a Web page

The Wall Street Journal recently published its predictions for entrepreneurship in 2009, and -- as we've repeatedly been saying -- it predicts 2009 will be the year entrepreneurship takes off. In particular, WSJ writer Kelly Spors believes there will be a great shift to an online focus, including an increase in companies' online presence.

A Web site however, is the least that companies should be focusing on. In the comments, I expanded a bit more on what I think it really means to have an online presence. Have a look at the article and the comments, and remember: The time for entrepreneurship is now!

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Carrollton Police Department captures headlines

I was searching the Web for blogs and publications that cater to law enforcement this morning. As part of that, I Googled the New Carrollton Police Department, with whom we did a case study and podcast this past fall. The NCPD is using Alpha Five to stay on the cutting edge of law enforcement with some pretty fantastic applications.

When the search results popped up, I was surprised to see the news that had already spread, before we even heard about it. Have a look!

* Maryland Police Department Catches Up to This Century (CrunchGear)
* Police Use High-Tech Ticket Technology (abc News)
* New Carrollton Police Lead State in Technology (Gazette.net)
* Electronic Traffic Citations Debut in New Carrollton (MSBA)
* Maryland State Police Go from Pen/Paper to Point/Click (Speed Trap Ahead)

A lot of our customers are doing amazing things that we don't know about. If you have a similar success story, or recently created an app using Alpha Five that's changing the way you do business, we want to hear about it. In fact, we're holding a contest right now to urge you to share your stories, which we launched last week.

Have a great new app? You could be the owner of a brand new netbook with a pre-installed copy of Alpha Five Version 10. For more contest information, read up on last week's post, and don't forget to send your links to bridget@alphasoftware.com.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Installing a husband

A friend of mine sent me this funny e-mail, and I knew it would really strike a chord with a lot of our blog readers. I know it's an oldie, but I just couldn't resist! Happy Friday, everyone!


Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as
- Romance 9.5 and
- Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as
- NBA 5.0,
- NFL 3.0 and
- Golf Clubs 4.1.

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?

Signed,

Desperate.

DEAR DESPERATE,

First, keep in mind,
- Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while
- Husband 1.0 is an operating system.

Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update.
- If that application works as designed, Husband1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1.
- Please note that Beer 6. 1 is a very bad program that will download the Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend
- Cooking 3.0 and
- Hot Lingerie 7.7.

Good Luck Babe!

Tech Support

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Calling all developers: Win a netbook!

As I hope you know, this blog wasn't created for us to throw around a bunch of marketing mumbo jumbo and talk at you. We wanted to create a space that let us share our company news and ideas, as well as a place where you can get to know the faces behind Alpha Software.

We also want it to be a forum where you can be as involved as you'd like. We've had a lot of great posts featuring e-mails from developers, such as our ongoing Developer's Thoughts series and Customer Testimonials series.

We've also had some fantastic guest posts written by customers and friends who have valuable developer information they've wanted to share with the Alpha community, such as posts by long-time Alpha friend Susan Bush.

That's why we'd like to officially send out a call for your thoughts. Do you have something worth sharing with the Alpha community? Have you recently had a good or (*gasp*) bad experience with Alpha Five? Discovered any new development tips or tricks you think others could benefit from? Tried another development platform? Created a really great app?

Send us your articles, reviews, or thoughts, and we'll post them here.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE.

We've decided to add a little more excitement to the mix. What could be more fun than being featured on the Alpha blog, you say? How about being featured on the Alpha blog AND winning a brand new netbook with Alpha Five Version 10?

We're inviting all Alpha customers who recently created a new application using Alpha Five to show it off for a chance to win a netbook. Just record a short tour of your new app using Jing, upload it to your favorite video sharing site (YouTube, Google Video, etc.), and send the *link* of your video to our blogmaster at bridget@alphasoftware.com.

We'll feature the videos here on the blog, and then randomly select one entrant to win a brand new netbook with Alpha Five Version 10 preinstalled and ready to go.

Ready. Set. Go!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Unemployment in 2009: Are you part of the U.S.'s 7.2 percent?

The numbers are out, and they don't look good. The Labor Department announced 524,000 U.S. jobs were lost in December. And with America's national unemployment rate up to 7.2 percent -- the highest in 16 years -- 2008 will go on record as the worst year of job losses since World War II.

And now I'm sure the question on another 524,000 people's minds is: Now what?

As I've said in a number of posts on the U.S.'s economic condition, a down economy is actually the ideal time to start your own business. The Web has unleashed never-before-experienced business power, for an exceptionally low price.

Better yet, harnessing the power of the Internet doesn't mean you need to spend a year and thousands of dollars on programming. Today's technology has advanced so much that anyone with basic computer skills can put their products on the Web. At Alpha, we see it happening every day.

If you're an entrepreneur with an idea, this could be the opportunity you've been waiting for. For some more recessionary entrepreneur stories, turn your eyes to The Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, and CNN.

Reducing IT security costs safely

In this month's edition of Processor, Christian Perry penned an article about reducing IT security costs. Sure, in today's economy everyone is looking to cut costs. But when it comes to security, do you really want to cut corners?

Cutting back on on security spending can help improve the bottom line, but small and midsized businesses might have a hard time with the difficult process of scaling back security -- especially when cuts could leave parts of the company open to attack.

To get the scoop, Perry turned to Alpha's chief security evangelist, Jeff Kalwerisky. You can find that article online and in on newsstands today.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Alpha Software in IncTechnology's Tech Talk

One of our customers, Shane Mustoe of Roadrunner Drywall, was recently interviewed by Elizabeth Wasserman of IncTechnology.

In today's Tech Talk, Shane, Vice President and co-owner of Roadrunner, explained how his Arizona-based drywall company cut costs, streamlined processes, and got a leg up on competitors. Shane recently moved his paper-based system to a computer-based scheduling database to keep track of crews at different job sites built with Alpha Five.

Our writers are also putting together a case study on Shane's Alpha experience with Roadrunner Drywall, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that over the next month. But for now, have a look at Shane's story in Tech Talk.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Alpha Five Version 9 on the cover of Personal Computer World

Alpha has hit the newsstands across the U.K. this week. A free trial of Alpha Five Version 9 is included in this month's Personal Computer World cover disc. And inside, they've included a review. So if you live in the U.K., be sure to pick up a copy today!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Choosing the right Alpha edition

I've had an influx of e-mails recently from developers ready to take the Alpha plunge for the first time, but are unsure which version of Alpha Five is right for them. We put together a page on our Web site for just this question, but I wanted to run down some of the important differences between Alpha Five Version 9 Standard and Alpha Five Version 9 Platinum.

Alpha Five Standard has limited SQL support. Standard Edition is right for you if you plan to use only the database engine built into Alpha Five for building your desktop or Web applications. You don't have the option of building your Web or desktop database apps against SQL data sources, like MySQL, Oracle, DB2, or SQL Server.

Active-Link tables for reading or writing against SQL databases are not supported. Passive-Link tables are supported, but only for MS Access and MS Excel. You can import and export data, and use Xbasic functions with only Access and Excel.

Alpha Five Platinum is the right choice if you plan to use Alpha Five with SQL backend data sources, like MySQL or SQL Server. You can use the built-in database engine as well. In addition to full SQL support, the Platinum Edition offers everything found in the Standard.

If you have any other questions, feel free to send us an email.

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