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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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #13: Data validation

Grids within Alpha Five Version 10 have exceptionally strong data validation features. The video below will show you our data validation rules, data validation custom Xbasic at the field level, data validation events, and automatic honoring of field rules for DBF tables.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #12: Tabbed linked grids with codeless Ajax

Alpha Five Version 10 makes it possible to create powerful "master-detail" grids by placing "linked content sections" on the grid. If a linked content section contains more than one grid, the content is displayed in a tab or accordion object.

For example, say you have a customer grid that displays the orders for the customer record that has focus. The orders grid, in turn, might display the order details for the order that has focus. There is no limit to the level of nesting of linked content.

This video shoes how easy it is to create a linked content section.



Friday, June 26, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #11: Multi-user editing

Grids withing Alpha Five Version 10 use "optimistic record locking" to trap multi-user edit conflicts. The video below shows you how data automatically refreshes as soon as the user starts to edit (which minimizes chances of a write conflict), and how V10 traps write conflicts.



Thursday, June 25, 2009

WE WANT YOU to help us make Alpha Five Version 10 even better

There's a phenomenon going on with Alpha Five Version 10, which, on the surface, is a positive. But in reality, it's keeping me up at night. My problem is best articulated by this Bill Gates quote: "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."

Acclaims for Alpha Five Version 10 from beta testers and preview users have been flooding my inbox, like this one, which I received yesterday (verbatim):

Well you certainly are hitting your straps with this aren't you, that's just awesome! - Who would have thought the operators (users) would ever have had so much live data so quickly at their disposal. The big benefactors of all this are the SME's - when things pick up, from what I can see all those Small to Medium businesses will finally have the benefits of live transactional processing in real time, something that has been the exclusive club of the corporates world due to the cost. It's going to be similar to the DTP revolution where smaller players could publish without the hight costs of typesetting and printing presses - as it changed the world!
- so will this.

You know something else, I have gotten so used to V10 - and the apps it delivers, I look back at what I was developing just 5 weeks ago and can't imagine just how on earth I could have done things any other way, also I can't believe how I could not seen just how non competitive or real world the apps were that I was working on, this is what people expect, I know we were delivering only what we were capable of at the time, but still it bothered me.

You know one more thing, I sometimes reflect back to my first PC Days in the early 80's working on dataflex, no emails or Internet then - and I just think what on earth was I doing on that PC night and day, anyhow - this stuff truly is right up there! - It's now where it needed to be.

Keep at it - it's great.

Peter


Who wouldn't love getting positive feedback? Well, in some ways, me. Because it's simply not possible that everything about Alpha Five Version 10 can be perfect and breakthrough. What's happening now is that people are focusing on the standout features. Primarily, codeless Ajax, which, when you see it, really does have a powerful effect on developers -- even a mind-blowing effect.

But the problem is, when one feature is so overwhelmingly exciting, the adrenaline generated by that can mask -- and in fact probably is masking -- other issues that need to be examined by beta testers and users.

If you're a beta tester of Alpha Five, the best thing you can be doing is not just exercising the codeless Ajax features. Certainly, we need to know where any of those features can be improved. But it's also important that you look at the platform end to end, and tell us what's wrong.

What's incomplete? What's not performing as fast as you think it should? What has a non-optimal user workflow? What has a confusing menu or dialog? What might not be as productive as it could be? And, of course, are any bugs or "features" causing you to slap your forehead?

I have to say -- and this is the absolute honest truth -- I have yet to receive dissatisfied feedback from a beta tester. It has been overwhelmingly effervescent. Now, either we really have hit the ball way, way, way out of the park end to end with Alpha Five Version 10, or there are things that are being missed by testers and users.

If you're a beta or preview user, focus on what we didn't do well; what we didn't get right; and what's wrong, or broken, or buggy, or non-optimal in Alpha Five Version 10.

We thank you and appreciate your positive feedback. And certainly feel free to keep sending it. But remember, the way this product got to where it is today is built on much more than positive feedback. It was built on ALL of your feedback. And I worry that we're not getting the bad with the good. So please feel free to look past the non-mind-blowing aspects of Version 10, and tell us about what we just didn't get right.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #10: Constrained keyword search

The constrained keyword search within Alpha Five's grid component has always let users create specific keyword searches (a search that searches in multiple fields). But now, you can create "constrained" keyword searches. This lets you perform a keyword search subject to some other constraint e.g. (Department = "Books").

This new "Amazon.com-like" search option makes searching easier and more highly targetable, as the video below demonstrates.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #9: Rich text

Any grid you build in Alpha Five Version 10 contains a built-in HTML editor for editing rich memo fields. This video demonstrates how rich memos can be edited in the grid part and the detail view part.

In the grid section, the HTML editor is configured as a popup editor. It's opened when you click on the field. And in the detail view, the HTML editor can be configured to edit "in-place." Have a look at the video below to see it in action.

The ABCs of QReportBuilder on WebCPA

WebCPA prides itself on being the place to go for the most advanced tools and resources for tax and accounting professionals. This spring, they released a list of new products of note, and Alpha's QReportBuilder made the cut.

Have a look at the full list, where you'll find a nice summary of the benefits of QReportBuilder, and learn how simple "doing the books" can be.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #8: Windows options

Alpha Five Version 10's Action Javascript builders make it very easy to create buttons that open other grids, reports, pages, and more in pop-up windows. You can also open them up in new "panes" in the tabbed UI builder.

In the two videos below, you'll see some of the window options such as multiple modeless windows, re-using the same modeless window, setting the window title, or opening a new pane in the tabbed UI object.



Friday, June 19, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #7: Codeless Ajax Special: liquid forms and watermarks

Sometimes, the size of the screen matters when a user is accessing an application you've created. So how do you build an effective application to be used when screen real estate is limited, such as an Ajax Web app that will run on an iPhone?

That's why "liquid" forms are an increasingly popular platform for running Web applications today. Liquid forms automatically reconfigure themselves based on the screen size. That's necessary for something like a smart phone, when the screen real estate is severely limited.

This first video we put together will show how the grid makes it easy to design liquid forms.



Watermark fields are also an effective tool for dealing with small screen sizes. Watermark fields let you put the field label inside the field itself. This is a great way to save space when you don't have space to spare.

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #6: Editing options

There are a slew of different and simple ways an editable grid can be configured in Alpha Five Version 10. We created an editable grid in this video, to show you all the possible ways users can edit, including:

  • Submitting all rows at once
  • Saving individual rows
  • Edit on demand
  • Turning off option to save individual rows
  • Moving the new record rows to the top of the grid
  • Keyboard support (F9 to save data, Up and Down to change row with focus, etc.)
  • Trapping actions that would lose uncommitted data

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #5: Easy searching

Alpha Five Version 10 comes with a slew of new search features that you can add to grids, including search part, quick search, searching on current sort column, query by example, incremental searching (QBE syntax), and alphabet button bars.

This video uses the customer grid we created in yesterday's Ajax grid Feature Peek, and shows you how easy it is to search.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #4: Ajax grids

As I'm sure you've guessed, codeless Ajax has everyone here at Alpha turning cartwheels. In fact, I'm not sure if I've ever been so excited about a new Alpha Five feature. We put together a number of Feature Peeks to give you a little taste of codeless Ajax, which I'll reveal over the next few weeks. I don't want to show them all at once, lest your heads explode. ;)

This video shows a basic Ajax component. Here, you'll see how easy it is to create an Ajax grid using the grid builder. The video demonstrates basic interaction with the grid, such as sorting, page navigation, and changing the number of records per page. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #3: Tabbed UI builder

The tabbed UI builder lets you take all of the pieces of your applications (grids, reports, Alpha Five Web pages, etc.) and build a tabbed user interface, much like a modern desktop application would employ.

We put together two videos on the tabbed UI builder, to help you see a better picture. Here's the first video, and here's the second video, or just click below.



Monday, June 15, 2009

Codeless AJAX and other Alpha Five V10 innovations are blowing developers’ minds

As you've probably noticed, last week we started releasing sneak peeks of the new and improved features of Alpha Five Version 10. Well, we also recently released a beta version of V10, and some of our Alpha developers have been eager to take it for a test drive. As always, we expect these developers to put our product through the ringer. If there's a problem or a feature that needs improvement, we want to hear about it.

Conversely, we also love to hear about what's good, so we know what's most important to you, our customers. That's why I'm happy to report that we've received some tremendously positive feedback from our beta testers in the Alpha forum. I thought this feedback would also be valuable to you, so you can see what's really turning the V10 users on. There's also some good suggestions in there for testing the new version.

I've copied a few of the comments below, and I'll be posting more as the weeks wear on. But make sure you check out the forum for everyone's thoughts. I swear the excitement is contagious.

I've been allowed to beta test for some time now. And I'm totally speechless with the new features I've seen so far. It exceeds in what you will be seeing from the videos Richard now presents.

Some advice, when you are given access to the V10 beta, make sure:

You copy your existing program folder to a new TEST program folder. And create a link to start the program from there. Then follow the directions you will be given by Alpha.

Also copy the project folder to a new Test folder. (this is where all the project components are in). And copy the folder where your DBF files are in.

Adjust your Aliases to the new paths.

This includes new DBF folder where the DBF files are in or when using SQL database make sure you copy you DB schema to a new test schema, change the connection string(s) to test with this test schema.

Then start testing V10 beta features, without having to worry that your existing V9 projects are effected. After all it is still in beta stage.

Although I did not have negative experience using V10Beta against existing components and database, I advice to run it against a separate test instance.

regards, Ron

*******

Richard,

Thanks very well done.
Thanks for the time table and further demo's :)

I am now SHAMWOWED.

I may have to be a beta tester ...

Nicholas Wieland

*******

I agree.

I have poked the web product multiple times in the past, waiting for The Time.

This is The Time. From what I can see, V10 is a Quantum Leap.
It's going to knock lots of socks off.

I am ShamWOWed, Shocked, and Over The Top Enthusiastic about what is coming.

FrankR

*******

Richard,

This is just unbelievable. Every feature in and of itself is a huge enhancement. The only problem with all of this is that I cannot sleep - I am so excited!

Gary

*******

I have been using V10 Beta for a while and I have to say, WOOOOOOW.
I am not a coder, or far from a web page designer with SQL integration. This new version does it ALL.
It is truly amazing.
Even the company that I work at, big M, bought the Alpha5.
I have to say thank you ALpha Software for such a unbelievable product.

Atta

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #2: Edit-combo box fields

Were you as excited as I was when Bridget kicked off our A5V10 Feature Peeks yesterday? I'm going to keep the Version 10 ball rolling today with our second sneak peek: edit-combo box fields.

A combo box is a combination of a drop-down list or list box and a single-line textbox, which lets users either type a value directly into the control or choose from the list of existing options. For example, the address bar of graphical Web browsers are usually combo boxes.

In Alpha Five Version 10, we're bringing edit-combo box fields to the Ajax world. This video shows how you can include edit-combo boxes in your grid components. You can use edit-combo boxes in the search, grid, and detail view parts.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #1: Auto-suggest fields

Last year as we prepared for the release of A5V9, we slowly trickled out a (rather long) list of feature peeks to pique your interest for the upcoming launch. Now that the drum roll has started for Alpha Five Version 10, we're ready to unveil some of the new features of V10 before our official launch later this summer.

We're incredibly excited about the progress we've made with this version (AJAX, AJAX, AJAX)!

So without further ado, let the Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peeks begin.

First up is auto-suggest fields. These work similarly to the Google search toolbar that I'm sure everyone is at least familiar with. As you start typing into a textbox, a list of suggestions is supplied. In the case of the grid component, the suggestions can come from a static list of values, or more commonly, from a table.

The list of choices can be filtered based on other fields previously filled in. For example, say that you have defined the "city" field to be an auto-suggest field. If you previously entered "CA" into the "state" field, then when you start typing into the "city" fields, the list of suggestions will only show cities in California.

We put together this short video on the new auto-suggest fields to show you how it works.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Now's the time, but what's the business?

I've been talking about it for quite some time here on the blog, but obviously, I'm not the only one who thinks this is the time for aspiring entrepreneurs to ditch the "aspiring" before their titles and make their ideas come to life. Whether it's developing the next big iPhone application, setting up shop and selling your mother's family-famous fudge, or finally opening up that vintage clothing boutique, now is the best time to start a business.

There's no question that many business won't survive this down economy, so how do you know if your big idea will stack up? For starters, have a look at this interesting article I came across last week in Inc. about the best industries for starting a business right now. Is your dream recession proof?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The future of application development in the cloud?

Earlier this week, ebiz asked the question, what will be the future of application development in cloud computing? Obviously, it's useful to consider that the cloud is real, it makes complete economic sense, and it's here to stay.

In my comment, I brought up the following analogy. In 1910, 95 percent of electricity in the U.S. that was consumed in business was generated on premises. That's why so many factories were located near water, to drive hydro electric power generation. But by 1930, 95 percent of electricity that was consumed in business was generated by the electric grid (the cloud of electricity).

Why? Simply put: It was significantly cheaper.

Once we accept this inevitable trend towards the cloud, the next question becomes which tools are going to offer the most cost-effective way to build modern Ajax-based Web apps?

Remember, the decision makers driving all of this are the folks who have to pay for IT services. They're going to demand the cloud AND the use of development tools (for user satisfaction and productivity reasons) that allow for the creation of Web-based apps that perform like desktop apps in terms of speed, RIA, and fine granular control (i.e. Ajax apps).

Naturally, the tools they choose will be the ones that make powerful, Ajax-enabled apps possible. And (you know this was coming) I can't let that go without reminding you that our soon-to-be-released Alpha Five Version 10 is (as far as we know) the first tool to make it possible to build robust Ajax-enabled apps for the cloud without having to write a stitch of code.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

SQL Server webinar today at 1

Just a quick reminder that the Alpha Five/SQL Server Web applications webinar will be taking place TODAY from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. Eastern Time. If you can't make it, don't worry. The course will also be recorded, and will be made available for viewing or downloading. But you have to register to access the recording, so sign up now. Have a look at our original blog post for more information on the webinar, and why it's important for your business.

Ajax 101: What's the big deal?

As you probably know, the big buzz word around Alpha Software right now is Ajax. Even bigger: codeless Ajax. That's because codeless Ajax is one of the most important (and most exciting) new features of our soon-to-be-released Alpha Five Version 10.

The importance of delivering Ajax without the coding is put into greater context when you understand exactly why Ajax itself is such a big deal in the world of Web development. So when I came across this article, Measuring the Benefits of Ajax, I knew it would be great to share with our blog readers. Published by Developer.com, the article gives a great explanation about the technology of Ajax and what the benefits are for those who use it, so make sure you give it a read.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

You compare: Iron Speed, FileMaker, Microsoft Access, and Alpha Five

One of the pre-sales tools we're most proud of here at Alpha is our competitive features grid, which compares Alpha Five with other leading database development platforms, including Microsoft Access 2007, Filemaker Pro 9, Filemaker Pro 9 Advanced, Filemaker Server 9, and Filemaker Server 9 Advanced. About a year ago, we hired a neutral professional software reviewer, and our marching orders were only this: Be honest.

We recently expanded that features grid to include FileMaker Pro 10. And now, our most updated version includes Iron Speed.

We hired an actual Iron Speed developer to help us, and we're confident it's accurate. It's clear there are some features in Microsoft Access, FileMaker, and Iron Speed that are better than Alpha Five Version 9. And there are some features of Alpha Five that are better than Access, FileMaker, and Iron Speed.

The purpose of this grid is not to say we're the best. Rather, our goal is to help developers make the right choice in software for their particular project. We believe if you're looking to build database-driven Web applications in a heartbeat, this grid will show you Alpha Five is right for that requirement.

As always, if you find any inaccuracies in Alpha Five or in any of these products, please let us know in the comments section, or shoot me an e-mail. As I said, the purpose of this grid is to be as accurate and as fair as possible. And, if there are any other databases dev platforms you think we should include, we'd like to know that too. So have a look at our most updated competitive features grid, and let us know what you think.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Twelve ways to cut costs without cutting people

The economy is taking it's toll on almost every industry throughout the company. Companies are feeling the pinch from many angles, and worst of all, layoff rates are staggering. That's why I found it increasingly important to put together tips for cutting business costs, without cutting people.

And today, the article was published by Resource Nation. So have a good look. It's a worthwhile read for anyone taking a discerning look at the company budget. Even if you don't have direct say in what stays and what goes when the company tightens its belt, this article will arm you with a list of 12 suggestions for cutting company costs to give the higher ups, just in case the layoff reaper ever comes to your office.

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