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, September 29, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #31: Client-side system events

Alpha Five Version 10's grid component has a rich client-side event model. We've put together two videos to show how you can use client-side events to put up a simple "sorting ..." message while the Ajax callback is taking place after the user has clicked on a column heading to sort the grid.




Monday, September 28, 2009

REMINDER: Alpha Five security webinar TOMORROW

Hindsight is twenty-twenty right? Many business owners don't think their systems are unsecured until someone comes along and hacks it. Only then do they find all the ways they should have been protecting their customers and their employees.

In fact, BusinessWeek just published an article about the new study by the SANS Institute on the top cyber security risks. Based on reports from 15,000 organizations surveyed by risk assessment companies Tipping Point and Qualys, the study revealed that many IT professionals ought to re-examine and change their current security priorities, BEFORE it's too late.

The analysts found that the biggest risk facing most systems is unpatched vulnerabilities in applications and that applications, not operating systems, have become the primary target of attack.

I don't want to say I told you so, but ... I told you so. But don't worry, you can still sign up for TOMORROW'S Alpha Software security webinar, where you can learn how to build completely secure Web applications with Alpha Five.

The webinar, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT, will explain everything you need to know to implement security in your Alpha Five Web applications with confidence.

Make sure you have a look at last week's blog post for the full details, or head on over to our registration page to sign up today! Admission into the webinar is $199, but the cost of missing it could be priceless.

Friday, September 25, 2009

How to add amazing charts, graphs, gauges, and interactive controls to your Alpha Five applications

Data without visualization is useless. Unfortunately, most database applications provide context to information by presenting it to users in formats not too far removed from a spreadsheet. While that technically qualifies as reporting, it's certainly about as raw as reporting gets.

The secret to unlocking business intelligence from large data sets is rich visualization. But that's often easier said than done. We're out to change that.

We've asked Jim Dusoe, an independent Alpha Five guru, and our partner InfoSoft Global, to put together a Webinar that will teach developers how to transform raw data into stunning graphics that give users actionable insights into their business.

And they did! The result is How to Use the FusionCharts Suite with Alpha Five, a step-by-step live webinar that will take you from novice to pro in no time flat. This one-hour presentation will introduce you to FusionCharts and other reporting tools, and show how to integrate them into Alpha Five applications.

Fusion Charts takes XML data and spins out world-class interactive visuals. They work with Web and desktop apps, and make it easy for users to understand and analyze complex data sets, uncover trends, make projections, and most of all, see the big picture. They're a great way to create executive dashboards, mashups, computer control systems, and at-a-glance snapshots for users.

Learn how to go beyond text-based rows and columns, or the usual but boring pie charts, line graphs, and bar charts, and instead display information like this:



Or this:


Or this!




Think that would wow the CEO? You bet! Think that would communicate information faster than a bunch of data cells to the VP of Sales? 'natch!

If you'd like to go from boring spreadsheet-style reporting to dazzling displays, sign up for the webinar now. The lesson is $79, but if you sign up before Sept. 30, you'll pay only $49 for the lesson.

The FusionCharts software is open source and free. There are also paid versions; compare them all here. Webinar attendees will also get a discount coupon for various FusionCharts products.

Interested? How could you not be? So register now, and get ready to amaze your clients.

Using Alpha Five with the FusionCharts Suite

Date: Thursday, Oct. 15

Time: 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET

Cost: $79 normally; $49 IF YOU REGISTER BEFORE 9/30

Requirements: Broadband Internet connection
Internet Explorer, Firefox, or other current Web browser
NO TELEPHONE REQUIRED

A copy of the webinar will be available for download to everyone who registers.

REGISTER NOW. I'll see you there!

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #30: Action Javascript - lookup and fill-in action

The "Lookup and Fill-in" action in Alpha Five Version 10 lets you define a Javascript event that will automatically look up data in a lookup table and then fill in certain fields in the record you are editing.

Sound nice? This video shows how to do it.



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is Your Web Site Leaking Confidential Company Data?

Last week, Richard told you about the upcoming security webinar being led by Jerry Brightbill. Attendees will learn everything they need to know about how to implement security in Alpha Five Web applications.

The press release announcing the webinar went out today, and I figured it would be a perfect time to remind our developer audience to register for the event!


Is Your Web Site Leaking Confidential Company Data?

Alpha Five’s webinar will teach businesses how to build secure Web database applications
BURLINGTON, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--When it comes to security, the World Wide Web is a bit like the Wild, Wild West. Because when it comes to cybercrime, everyone—from the mom and pop shops to the major corporations—is a sitting duck if not totally secure. So how safe is your Web application? A new webinar sponsored by Alpha Software will show application developers how to take full advantage of Alpha Five’s comprehensive Web Security Framework when building their applications.


Last month, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, an industry group created to share data about critical threats to the financial sector, issued an alert to warn businesses about the increase in cyber threats in the past six months. The latest numbers show some companies have suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in losses. The most at-risk target? Small- and mid-sized businesses, which attract less media attention than large corporations, but still suffer severe damages.


“Every week you hear stories of some malicious hacker who made off with credit card numbers, personal information, or security secrets that were stored on a company’s database,” says Richard Rabins, Co-Chairman of Alpha Software. “And it seems that as security evolves, so do cybercriminals. It’s no surprise that more stringent security legislation to try to keep customers and employees safe is now coming into play. With noncompliance fines reaching upward of $10,000 per credit card number lifted from a system, no company can afford to be unprotected. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to ensure our customers’ sensitive business data is secure.”


The webinar, which will take place Tuesday, Sept. 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT, will explain everything developers need to know to implement security in their Alpha Five Web applications with confidence. Participants will:


o Learn how to avoid common mistakes that could render their application vulnerable. o See how Alpha Five’s architecture protects data tables. o See how to set up security groups with different access rights. o Learn how to tie their application into the built-in security module using the ULINK field. o Learn about the new component level security, which allows components to show different fields to different users. o Be able to assure their clients that their applications and data are secure.


The two-hour session will be led by Alpha Security Chief and creator of Alpha Five’s Security Framework, Jerry Brightbill, and costs $199. Brightbill has worked with all Alpha versions from the first to the current version. He joined Alpha Software in 2005, and is the architect of the Web security system and other features in Alpha Five. For the past two years, he has been developing large Web applications as part of the Alpha Software professional service department.


Anyone can sign up for the security webinar. To register, visit Alpha’s webinar log on page.


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.

Codeless Ajax that every designer can sink their teeth into

As I said yesterday, we weren't only focusing on developers when revamping and creating Alpha Five Version 10's new and improved features. In fact, designers are one of our core targets with this release. And I've already mentioned some of the great new features that have designers clapping their hands.

Now, I'm happy to report, we've just opened the door for the whole world of people designing Web sites in Dreamweaver, MS Expressions, NotePad, FrontPage, and more to build Ajax forms in Version 10.

As you know, none of these platforms make it easy to build forms that are bound to databases. But now, designers can take any static HTML form and turn it into a live Ajax Alpha 5 Version 10 form.

The video below shows you how you can create live Ajax forms that are bound to SQL or dbf databases with Alpha Five Version 10.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #29: Navigation button options

Hey, designers! We haven't forgotten about you in Alpha Five Version 10! And here's one example how: In Version 10, we've made it possible to replace the navigation buttons on the detail view. By simply replacing the graphics of an applications with some readily available icons, you can completely change the look and feel of the app. What do you think?



Friday, September 18, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #28: Foreign character support

In July, I told you about one of the new features of Alpha Five Version 10, it's foreign language support for labels and instructions in web apps built by Version 10. Well, we've one upped ourselves by adding international character support for the DATA (UTF8 is the technical term.)

Now, Web apps can be designed to support virtually any language, using that language's characters.

Here's an example of an Alpha Five Version 10 app using Chinese characters.



That means that if you're building Codeless Ajax Web applications against SQL databases in Version 10, you'll be able to serve people worldwide with the data in their native tongue. There's over 130 different languages that v10 supports with their own native characters. Pretty impressive, eh?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A little bit of what you can expect with Alpha Five Version 10

During last month's Alpha Five Version 10 seminar, one of our Alpha Five v10 beta testers out of Melbourne, Australia, Peter Conway, flew in to Boston (33 hours in the air!) to give a wonderful presentation on how Version 10 will enhance your work and further benefit your existing Alpha skill set.


Most of the examples we have shown of Alpha Five v10 in use relate to more traditional data (orders, customers, school records, inventory, etc.) Peter, who has a background in many varied industries, wanted to show how Alpha Five v10 and Codeless AJAX TM can just as easily and effectively be used to build applications that make extensive use of video and other media.

Examples of these applications would be educational Web/browser applications for use in classrooms, database-driven multimedia training e-manuals for industry and the military, health record systems, and more

During his presentation, Peter demonstrated an application that he built using the beta of Alpha Five Version 10, and he's agreed to let us post part of that application here on the blog.

If you have any questions, or if you'd like to see the behind-the-scenes video that explains how all this was done without coding using Alpha Five v10 and Codeless AJAX TM, you can e-mail a request to Peter at peteconway@hotmail.com. (Please note the video below does not have sound.)

Enjoy!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Step right up and lock it down! Alpha Five Security Webinar!

How safe is your Web application? You see it in the headlines every week. Some malicious hacker manages to make off with credit card numbers, personal information, or security secrets. The latest and most notorious concerns a 28-year-old from Florida who allegedly stole over 150 million credit card numbers from TJ Maxx, Dave and Busters, Heartland Payment Systems, and 7-11.

But security breaches and cyber crimes aren't limited to just big companies. Any business that has valuable or sensitive data needs to keep that data protected and available to users on a need-to-know basis. And no reputation -- from the smallest mom and pop shop, to the world's largest corporation -- can come out unscathed from a security breach.


  • Businesses want to be confident that their customer information is protected and private.
  • Colleges and schools want to feel that student academic and payment records can only be viewed and modified by authorized users.
  • Medical professionals don't want to worry that patient health records could become available to anyone other than the patient and their doctors.
  • Cities, towns, police departments, and government agencies need to assure the public that information in their systems is secure.

And many laws have been (and will be) introduced that obligate you as a developer, administrator, or business owner to keep your data safe. Some of this legislation includes HIPAA (for health insurance), FERPA (for student and education records), GLBA (for banking and insurance), as well as the PCI DSS regulations (for anyone who handles credit cards). Similar legislation exists in other countries worldwide. And the penalties for non-compliance are high. In the case of PCI DSS, you could be fined $10,000 for each credit card account that is stolen or compromised.

That's why Alpha Five has built-in security. It's easy to implement, and we've created our newest webinar to show you how. The Alpha Five Security Webinar will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. (EDT). That's 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. Pacific time, and 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. U.K. time.

Registration is open now, but hurry because the early bird $99 pricing ends this Thursday, Sept. 17.

See How to Use the Alpha Five Built-in Security Module

Since Version 8, Alpha Five has had a comprehensive Web Security Framework integrated right into the product. But in order to take full advantage of it, you need to know how it works and how to use it effectively.

In this webinar, Jerry Brightbill -- the creator of Alpha Five's Security Framework -- will explain everything you need to know to implement security in your Alpha Five Web applications with confidence. During the two-hour session, you will:

  • Learn how to avoid common mistakes that could render your application vulnerable.
  • See how Alpha Five's architecture protects your data tables.
  • See how to set up security groups with different access rights.
  • Learn how to tie your application into the built in security module using the ULINK field.
  • Learn about the new component level security, which allows components to show different fields to different users.
  • Be able to assure your clients with confidence that their applications and data are secure.

We received a ton of great feedback from attendees of our Alpha conference in August, and as a result, we wanted to make an additional security webinar based on Jerry's presentation at the conference available to those of you who could not attend. This is not a replay. Rather, it's a live, two-hour event given by Jerry and recorded so that you can review it later for reference.

Register today!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why one user chose Alpha Five over Crystal Reports and other solutions

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

Alpha Five Developer and Accounting System Expert

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.

Our findings:

  • 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.

In Conclusion

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


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #27: Grid templates

Whenever you create a new grid component in Alpha Five Version 10, the Grid Templates Genie pops up, which lets you select one of several pre-defined templates or a template from your own library of templates.

Templates can be a great time saver because you can pre-set a multitude of properties whenever you create a new component. The video below demonstrates how you can use existing templates, and how you can define your own templates.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Alpha Five Version 10 Feature Peek #26: Using third-party editors with Alpha Five

When it comes to their work, many designers have a particular HTML editor that they like and prefer to stick with what they know. That's why we've made it possible to incorporate platforms such as Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Frontpage into your Alpha Five Version 10 Web project. Version 10 makes it easy to use third-party HTML editors. Have a look at the video below to see it in action.


Friday, September 04, 2009

One last look at the Alpha Five Version 10 training session: Customer testimonials


One of our customers snapped this picture at the Alpha Five Version 10 training session, and I just had to share!

Since our conference wrapped up a few weeks a go, my inbox has been flooded with positive feedback. Of course, I've pulled out a few of my favorites. Like our last customer testimonial post, I've redacted the names from the testimonials below, rather than getting permission from everyone.

Selwyn/Richard,

I just wanted to thank both of you for the past day and a half. I regret that I didn't get a chance to meet and talk to both of you. I had to leave a little earlier than I planned to go put out a fire at work but yesterday's and this morning's session was well worth the trip. It was great to meet fellow Alpha users (really nice to finally put faces to many names).

You both must be very excited about the future that Alpha holds. V10 is one of the most revolutionary products I have used. To be able to get what you can out of this product without coding (mind boggling to think about what you can do by being able to combine it with coding) is really quite amazing. I am actually excited about work once again.

I look forward to each new build and what it brings.

I hope than we have an opportunity to talk in the future about your product, I have a couple of suggestions that I think would help the product, especially in melding the web/desktop closer together. You have made a great start with being able to add grids to the desktop, and I think a few minor (seem minor to me) could really make it so much more useful to new users. I really believe that you have a great opportunity to launch a great products and wish you nothing but success.

Thanks once again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Richard,

I very much enjoyed attending the conference. It was very insightful regarding the advances made to the Web App Server, and for the first time I came away from the WAS with the feeling that I might be able to use it for "desktop only" clients due to performance, on the theory that any desktop client could evolve to a web or hybrid client.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About your product... Now that I am learning this, I cannot believe you guys aren't on every shelf in every computer place nationwide.. THIS IS WONDERFUL and EASY (Once you get the hang of it) It makes me look like a GURU yay!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi all,

Just a quick to thank you all for such an excellent training session. Things moved along very well and it was great to see the stability of V10 at this point in it's Beta development. I think Alpha Software came across in a very professional and prepared manner. Everything worked, the audio system was excellent, the air conditioning was right on and all speakers came across very well. I know how hard it is to pull this together and have it all go smoothly. Well done.

It was really impressive to see the turnout. Think about it .. this training was done on very short notice and we are still in the grip of the worst global recession we have experienced in our lifetimes. Still, Alpha was able to draw developers from all over the world. These developers were that interested in the potential of what V10 represents to their productivity to invest the time and money to learn about this new tool, even when money is so tight. I think the web videos had a lot to do with the interest, so it's important to keep these coming.

It was fun to just focus on the software and envision it's potential. I learned a lot too!

Thanks again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for the quick reply.

The software is fantastic! I am currently building new applications in V10, and converting many of my current applications to V10, which in turn means that as soon as it becomes "officially" available, I will be buying at least one copy for my server.

I really want to thank you for allowing me to be a "beta tester" for this exciting new product. I am overly impressed, and you can be sure I am "bragging" about it all the time!

As always, you and Selwyn are doing a great job. Please keep up the good work.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Martin Heller's productivity secret: Who needs outsourcing when you have Alpha Five?

Developers turn to outsourcing for the sake of productivity, right? But what if you had a tool that made it possible to build a project faster than it would take you to explain it to an outsourcer? As Martin Heller discovered, that's possible with Alpha Five Version 10.

Martin wrote about his experience dealing with outsourcing and why he ended up building the program himself using Alpha Five Version 10 on his Strategic Developer blog on InfoWorld. Make sure you mosey on over to take a look!


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