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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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

One for the record books: Alpha developer surpasses 20,000 message board posts

How many people can say they've done something 20,000 times? I can't, unless maybe you counted the amount of times I've said Codeless Ajax ;-). But "Certified" Alphaholic Tom Cone can. He reached a whopping 20,000 posts this month on Alpha Software's message board. Congrats Tom!

Alpha Five users know that we utilize our message board a great deal. It's a place for customers to go for help and get information, troubleshooting tips, news, and more. The Alpha developers on it are not only responsive to our customers' needs, but jump at the opportunity to help them.

Tom is a developer who epitomizes that. In a message board thread about his milestone post, Tom's fellow developers thanked him for his "willingness, to guide us, correct us, provide supplement, for teaching insight, to stimulate our thinking and encourage us with our development with great attentiveness to quality."

Reading through Tom's posts I saw that he not only provided help, but did so with enthusiasm and humor. It's clear that he enjoys the time he spends on the message board and we enjoy having him! I think Tom can safely say he has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of Alpha Five users.

I want to say thank you to Tom for all of the time he has dedicated to Alpha Five and its customers. I look forward to writing another congratulatory post when you hit 40,000, Tom! Keep them coming, because as the message board thread indicates, you have a lot fans out there.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Last day to save $50 on the Image Management webinar!

A sneak peak at the Image Management webinar
Today's the last day to save $50 when you sign up for the Alpha Five Image Management webinarRegister for only $49!

Web applications and websites are increasingly becoming image oriented. So knowing the best way to handle images in your applications is critical.

The two-hour webinar is taught by Alpha Five expert, Jim Dusoe. It's structured around a case study of an Alpha Five customer, Woolworks Live, who provides image resources to the fashion industry. You can get a sneak peek of what you'll learn in the video Jim put together.

So whether you're building an e-commerce site, which requires thumbnails, or an HR application, to store and retrieve images of employees, Jim will show you the tools and techniques needed to automate the process of manipulating images.

Here are the details:

What: Alpha Five Image Management webinar
Date: Wednesday, July 28, 2010
When: 11 a.m. EDT
System Requirements: Watch with any PC or Mac. For audio you can use your computer speakers/headphones or use a dial-in number.

Save yourself some bucks and sign up for the webinar right now.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Alpha Five feature pack of the week: Upsize Database Genie for .dbf Applications

We've come to the end of our feature pack series, but it's certainly not to be dismissed. The Upsize Database Genie for .dbf Applications feature pack moves your desktop application that uses .dbf tables to any SQL database. The Genie automatically upsizes your application for robust data storage.

Your application becomes scalable, has better multi-user performance, true client/server architecture, and multi-user applications that work over IP networks. Plus, the Genie doesn't modify your existing application. It simply creates a new database, which means that there is no risk in using it. Watch all three videos to see how easy it is to use.

Part one
















Part two 
















Part three

Thursday, June 24, 2010

London Calling! Alpha Five Version 10.5 training classes now available

One of the greatest albums of all time is The Clash's "London Calling." That's not just my personal opinion either. Rolling Stone ranked it #8 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums in 2003.

So why am I telling you this? Because I have the song, "London Calling," stuck in my head. I've been singing the words and bopping my head to the chorus ever since we decided to host our Alpha Five Version 10.5 live, hands-on training course in London.

We took the popularity of the Version 10 training course and included all of the new features available in Version 10.5. This time around the course will be held in the Greater London area (the venue is still TBD, but we'll get that nailed down ASAP) from Sept. 13 to 17. Your teachers will be Steve Workings and Jay Talbott. Both are well-respected and experienced Alpha Five developers. You'll leave London one step closer to becoming an Alpha Certified Developer.

The courses will accelerate your Alpha Five Version 10.5 learning curve for building applications for the cloud that look and perform like desktop applications. It will position you to take full advantage of the mega trends as outlined by New York Times Columnist Tom Friedman, who describes the "Great Inflection."

"Alpha University" is a three-part course that teaches you how to build modern Ajax Web database applications rapidly. Here's what you learn in each class:

In 101: Introduction to Web Applications with Alpha Five Version 10.5 you will learn the ins and outs of its core component, the Ajax Grid, and learn to combine multiple grids into Web applications.

In 102: Intermediate Web Applications with Alpha Five Version 10.5 you will learn how to build A5W pages, generate reports, publish a Web application, and secure a Web application.

In 103: Advanced Web Applications with Alpha Five Version 10.5 you will learn enough Xbasic and Action JavaScript to add event-driven actions and business logic to your Version 10.5 applications.

For a breakout of what you'll be doing in each course, go to the website. But there's more. I saved the best for last. If you sign up NOW for the early bird special, you'll save $200 to $300 depending on the course you register for. So give yourself a break, and let us teach you (at a nicely discounted price) how to use the latest and greatest version of Alpha Five.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What would the Web look like if everyone could build their own Web 2.0 data-driven apps?

You've been reading about it here for weeks, but we made the official announcement to the press today. Alpha Five Version 10.5 has been released! Take a gander at the press release we distributed. For members of the media, a full press kit is available at AlphaPressKit.com.




Newest Release of Alpha Five Bridges the Gap Between Professional Programming Power and Approachability by the Average User

BURLINGTON, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Imagine how different the world would be if only skilled developers could build a blog. But instead, building a blog is as easy as logging on to WordPress or Blogger, getting your head around some basic concepts, and before you know it, you’re blogging. That approachability coupled with the incredible power embodied by blogging software has transformed our world. Now anyone can become a publisher. In the technology industry alone, publishing titans have been overtaken by upstarts such as TechCrunch, Engadget, and Scobleizer, all of which were made possible by the ease of blogging software.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Alpha Five feature pack of the week: Flying Start Genie for Web Applications

We like to keep the ball rolling around here. And this feature pack will definitely get the ball moving in the right direction. The Flying Start Genie for Web Applications gives you a jump start when creating a new app.

It automatically creates a Grid component for every table in the database, and puts the tables into a Tabbed UI component that serves as the home page for your applications. It can be used against SQL databases and native Alpha Five databases (.dbf tables).

Furthermore, the genie gives you the control to edit any of the components in the Grid component editor, customize properties, and set defaults for all of the Grids that are created. Hit the play button on each video to learn how it's done.

Part one














Part two

Friday, June 18, 2010

Alpha Five feature pack of the week: Grid Components for Desktop Applications

Desktop apps and Web apps each have their own strengths and weaknesses. But what if you could combine the strengths of both to create the most powerful application that the world has ever seen?! OK, maybe I'm taking it too far or have been watching too many horror flicks, but I have a point.

There is a way to extend a desktop application's functionality and make it richer. The Grid Components for Desktop Applications feature pack brings the powerful and flexible graphical user interfaces (GUIs) in Web components to the desktop.

Developers can embed a Grid component into a form or use Action Scripting to open a window that contains a Grid component. There are many advantages to this. One, the Grid component is easy to create. Second, it has features that would be difficult to implement in standard Alpha Five forms and Xdialogs. Third, the work you do in the Grid component is usable if you want to move your app to the cloud.

So kick back, click play, and learn how to put both methods in motion.

Embed a Grid component into a form













Action Scripting part one













Action Scripting part two

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A beautiful view of the World Cup

We're seven days into the World Cup and what was a slow start became a nail-biter yesterday. South Africa is on the brink of not making it past the first round, which would give them a new title: The first host nation not to advance to round two. Come on fellas, we don't want that title! Then Spain, the team favored to win it all, lost its opening match to Switzerland. This stress is going to leave me sleepless in Burlington, Mass.

To take my mind off these losses, I decided to clean out my e-mail. People who know me know what a massive undertaking that is. But it had a silver lining, I stumbled upon these fantastic photos. Back in February my friend Julian forwarded me photos of the new Green Point stadium in Cape Town right after it was completed.

Take a look at them, they're breathtaking! These shots make me regret not booking a ticket back home to cheer South Africa on. Although it's never too late. ;-) They clearly need my support right now. It's time to add a W to our scoreboard. Enjoy the pictures!



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Web-enabling Microsoft Access: A cost/benefit analysis for developers considering Access 2010

You might have noticed us tweeting recently about a white paper we created. Let me elaborate in more than 140 characters here.

There are essentially two ways to port an existing Microsoft Access application to the Web: Create a brand new Web-based application in Visual Studio or install Access Services on a SharePoint server. We decided to delve deeper into these possibilities in our latest white paper, "Web-enabling Microsoft Access: A cost/benefit analysis for developers considering Access 2010."

It's well worth a read if you're an MS Access developer looking to get your apps on the Web or deciding whether or not to upgrade to Access 2010.

Also, feel free to share the white paper with others. But please, share the download link, rather than forwarding the white paper itself around. As you might guess, we're trying to collect the e-mail addresses of those interested in this topic so we can network and learn more about your Web app needs.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Alpha Five feature pack of the week: Tree Control Record Navigator

Sometimes we give features in Alpha Five really obvious names. Take our next feature pack for example. The Tree Control Record Navigator for Grid Components actually looks like a tree. It doesn't have brown bark, green leaves, or a squirrel nesting in it, but it comes close enough.

Anyway, let's move on to what it gives you. This feature pack lets you add a dynamically generated tree control to filter the Grid. When a node in the tree is expanded, an Ajax callback is made to populate that node of the tree. When an entry in the tree is selected, the Grid is filtered on the selected entry in the tree control.

To give you even more control, you get to pick where the tree control actually appears by defining its placement in the Grid's master template. Watch the following videos to get the low down on how to set up the tree control record navigator, and see all the flexibility you get when customizing queries.

Part one















Part two

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Alpha Five Version 10.5 feature peek #4: Customize the detail view toolbar

We've expanded the ways you can customize the detail view toolbar in Alpha Five Version 10.5. You've always been able to customize the icons and bubble help, but now you can design the layout of the toolbar. Eliminate any of the standard buttons or add your own -- it's up to you. Have a look at the video to see how it's done.

How to customize the detail view toolbar

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Kick it! How Alpha Five Version 10.5 can help you gear up for the 2010 World Cup

The 2010 World Cup is only a few days away. I have my winning teams picked and am ready to glue myself to ESPN from June 11 to July 11 yelling goooooooooooal! What makes this World Cup even better is that it's taking place in my home country of South Africa -- the first World Cup to be hosted by an African country.

My love of football (soccer, as the Americans call it) coupled with it taking place in South Africa has me pumped. This is the one sporting event where the winner truly becomes the best football team on the planet. It gives me chills just thinking about watching the final showdown.

So let me pull myself back to Alpha! How does the World Cup tie into Alpha Five Version 10.5? Well, Glen Schild, a developer at GJ Stats, built Goal Count using the release candidate of Alpha Five Version 10.5 in just two days. His Web app let's you predict the results of the 64 match ups in the 2010 World Cup. You can also set up groups, invite friends to join, and track where you rank on the main leaderboard.

This wasn't Glen's first Alpha Five app. A long, long time ago in an era we called the 90s, Glen used Alpha Four to develop a football prediction game on a DOS-based database to run across several offices during the 1994 World Cup.

Sixteen years later, fans of Glen's original app asked him to run a new competition. But this time around, he converted to a MySQL database and deployed the app to the cloud using Alpha Five Version 10.5.

He did get some help building the registration process with Steve Wood's AlphaToGo. Glen started the app on Friday afternoon and it was up and running on Sunday. Glen wrote a blog post about it. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here's a snippet.

So here we are, sixteen years on and after several requests to run a competition again I have taken the plunge! Technology has moved on, anyone heard of the internet? So has Alpha Software! The latest “blow your socks off” version of Alpha Five (jumped from four when windows arrived) is 10.5 and with it comes a whole bunch of features to help rapidly and effectively develop applications for whatever you need. They can be desktop based or browser based and oh boy the program really does pack a punch!


www.goal-count.co.uk was developed from scratch in TWO DAYS!


For the technically minded, the original application used .dbf technology and in the two days, those basic table structures were converted to a mysql database and a robust registration process* created. Scripts have been written to handle the game predictions and the other features of the competition. Using Alpha Five version 10.5 to bring it all together has made this possible. I really don’t know of any other development tool that comes close to providing this sort of functionality and ease of use.

Go ahead, visit Glen's blog and read the rest. He says it best. Then, if you're a football fan, give Goal Count a try. It's free. And if you want to catch any of the 2010 World Cup games, here's the TV schedule released by ESPN. You know where to find me starting June 11. My favorite chair, right in front of the TV (which Clifton is warming as I type).

Monday, June 07, 2010

Alpha Five Version 10.5 feature peek #3: Setting default values in the Search part

If you have a Grid with a Search part, there are some cases where it would be nice to open it with the Search part already filled in with default values. Furthermore, you might want to submit the Search part so that your user's initial view of the Grid will be filtered based on those values.

There's an advantage to this. By filling in default values into the Search part, the user can see what search is already in place. Then he or she can easily augment or overwrite it by adding new values to the Search part. Pop on the video to watch an easy way to set up an initial search condition for a Grid.

How to set default values in the Search part

Friday, June 04, 2010

Alpha Five feature pack of the week: Advanced Search Features

I told you earlier this week that I was going to start drilling into each new Alpha Five Version 10.5 feature pack. So without further ado, here is our first one. The Advanced Search Features for Grid Components gives developers more control and creativity when designing and customizing the Search part.

The Grid component search features that are included with Alpha Five are quite powerful, but this feature pack lets you animate the Search part when it's hidden/shown. The three effects you can now choose from are: drop down, slide in, or fade in. You'll see in the video that Selwyn picks all three effects, making the transition appear nice and smooth.

You can also embed the entire Search part or a free-form Search part above or below titles in the Grid. There's a lot to learn, so watch parts one and two of the videos below to see an example of these new capabilities.

Part one
















Part two
























I'm not done yet. With this feature pack, you can also define custom sort expressions. This gives you a powerful way to extend the functionality of the Search part. Have a look at the video to see how it's done.

Define custom sort expressions

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

What's the difference between a peek and a tip?

It's occurred to us that some of the things we've been calling feature peeks are not really new features. They're actually tech tips. And so we have come to a fork in the road. Starting with Version 10.5, the only blog posts that will be referred to as "feature peeks" will be those that showcase features that have never been seen before.

However, that doesn't mean we're going to stop providing insight into how to get more out of Alpha Five, or cool and unusual techniques that give you more capabilities. But going forward we're going to call these "feature tips." So here's a new tag for you to bookmark: the feature tips tag.

If you want to see what's new in the product, keep checking the feature peeks tag. And if you want the latest cool tips, subscribe to the feature tips tag. And by the way, if you have a cool technique you want to share, write to me. I'm more than happy to feature it on the blog. And if we publish it, we'll send you a feature pack free of charge -- your pick.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Introducing something new for Alpha Five: feature packs

UPDATE: Please excuse my fickle nature. I decided to reword some of the feature pack names.

Over the next few days, I'll be telling you about something completely new that's coming to Alpha Five: feature packs. They are exactly what they say they are -- collections of features that let you extend the capabilities of Alpha Five Version 10.5.

With that, let me introduce you to the first five that we're shipping:

  • Feature Pack 1: Grid Component - Advanced Search Features Advanced Search Features for Grid Components
  • Feature Pack 2: Grid Component - Tree Control Record Navigator Tree Control Navigator for Grid Components
  • Feature Pack 3: Grid Components for Desktop Applications
  • Feature Pack 4: Upsize Database Genie Upsize Database Genie for .dbf Applications
  • Feature Pack 5: Web Application - Flying Start Genie Flying Start Genie for Web Applications

I'll drill into each feature pack on the blog to give you a preview of the exciting new capabilities it adds to the core Alpha Five platform. Make sure you bookmark the feature packs tag to stay up to speed.

Tuesday's Tech Toon

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