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, November 30, 2010

Software industry veteran Joseph Alsop joins Alpha Software’s Board of Directors

I would like you all to join me in welcoming Joesph Alsop to Alpha Software's Board of Directors. He's the co-founder and former CEO of Progress Software Corporation, and led the company from a startup to a global software industry leader with over $500 million in annual revenue.

Now he'll be advising Alpha Software on business and growth strategies. To learn more about what he'll be working on at Alpha, read our press release below announcing his addition to our team.

Co-Founder and former CEO of largest independent software company in Massachusetts will advise Alpha Software on business and growth strategies for Alpha Five

BURLINGTON, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Joseph Alsop, co-founder and former CEO of Progress Software Corporation (Nasdaq: PRGS), has joined the Board of Directors of Alpha Software, maker of the acclaimed Alpha Five platform for rapidly building secure Ajax database applications. With over 30 years of experience growing the largest independent software company in Massachusetts, Alsop will play an important role in helping Alpha Software build on its reputation for excellence in creating tools for the rapid development of database-driven Ajax Web applications. He will also be advising the company on extending its technology assets to let developers build mobile database applications that run across all smart phones and tablets.

“Alsop’s impressive track record will add to our board’s breadth of expertise in areas such as strategy, managing growth, and innovation,” says Richard Rabins, Co-Chairman of Alpha Software. “We are confident that he will provide a unique perspective to the company as we continue to expand with more cutting-edge development tools especially in the emerging business mobile database application space.”

Alsop co-founded Progress Software Corporation in 1981 and served as CEO until 2009. He led the company from a startup to a global software industry leader with over $500 million in annual revenue. Alsop graduated from MIT in 1967 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

For more information on Alpha Software, visit the Alpha Software blog, website, or contact


Since 1982, Alpha Software has been providing developers with award-winning tools that make it easy to build business applications. Today over a million users rely on Alpha Software’s Alpha Five. The company is privately held, and based in Burlington, Mass. Alpha Software can be found on the Web at The company’s blog is located at


Review copies, reviewer’s guide, and training available to press and bloggers.

Press kit:



for Alpha Software
Alicia Buonanno, 610-228-2096

Monday, November 29, 2010

Four new Alpha University courses you don't have to drive or fly to

We spent a good deal of time on the road this year holding our Alpha University training courses in Las Vegas, London, and Boston. So this time around you can skip the planes, trains, and automobiles. We're bringing four new Alpha Five training courses to you online.

They're taught live, so you can ask questions in the chat window while class is in session. Classes vary in length and meeting times, but they're all designed to cover a lot of material in short order to make the most efficient use of your time.

At the end, you'll receive a certificate for each course you complete. But if you miss any of the sessions or have to duck out early, you'll receive a recording of each one. Let's get to the new Alpha Five courses you can sign up for.

Javascript, jQuery, and Alpha Five: Taught by Jeff Cogswell, this 12-hour course brings you up to speed on the use of JavaScript and jQuery. You'll learn the cutting-edge techniques used to build today's most powerful and innovative Web 2.0 Ajax applications. Class meets at 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. EST on Jan. 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, and 21.
Standard price: $999 Early bird price: $699

Xbasic 101: Taught by Steve Workings and Jay Talbott, this nine-hour course is will give you the Xbasic skills needed to solve daily development challenges. The Xbasic covered will be applicable to the desktop and to the Web side. Class meets at 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. EST on Jan. 11, 13, and 18.
Standard price: $699 Early bird price: $399

Introduction to Alpha Five Ajax Web Application Development: Taught by Steve Workings and Jay Talbott, this 15-hour course will give you a basic understanding of what it takes to create a Web application. They'll walk you through the critical path to produce a complete and secure data-driven website, focusing on using a SQL backend. Class meets at 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. EST on Jan. 20, 24, 25, 27, 31.
Standard price: $899 Early bird price: $599

Building Alpha Five Desktop applications: In this 15-hour course, Steve Workings and Jay Talbott will introduce you to the core methods and procedures needed to produce an effective, efficient, and powerful desktop application. This is a "200 series" course, assuming you already have some familiarity with Alpha Five desktop development. Class meets at 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. EST on Jan. 26, 28, Feb. 1, 3, and 4.
Standard price: $899 Early bird price: $599

For more details about the courses, system requirements, and to register, visit the website. Although the courses are online, to ensure a high-quality learning experience, we do limit registration. And these courses sell out, so don't wait long to register. Plus, you'll get the early bird price listed above if you register today.

One final note. If you've attended any of the Alpha University training courses in person this year, you're eligible for free recordings of one or more of these upcoming classes. Eligibility depends on what course(s) you have taken. For example, if you attended the recent Learn Xbasic class you will be automatically sent the video recordings of Xbasic course as they are produced. It is our way of saying, Thank you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How one nonprofit is migrating from Microsoft Access to Alpha Five

Microsoft Access is a formidable competitor to Alpha Five on the desktop. But when you compare the two platforms' abilities to build Web apps, that's where some major differences become clear. However, to have me point out the pros and cons of each wouldn't really appear objective.

Instead I'll have Alan Owen, Managing Director of JA Computer Solutions Ltd (JAC) in the U.K., walk you through them in a podcast with Melissa, the voice of Alpha Software podcasts. He's had a lot of success building desktop applications with Access, but recently started migrating his apps to the Web with Alpha Five.

Alan's been in the nonprofit sector since 1989 and comes from a Unix background. He started JAC in 2001, which builds database applications for nonprofits. The four main database applications Alan's built and uses with about 80 clients are help line, fundraising, beneficiary grant management, and animal re-homing.

MS Access was working wonderfully for his company and clients up until this year. That's when a client approached Alan about building a Web application, and he knew that it was time to start providing his clients Web-based solutions.

He searched around the Web, found Alpha Five, and is in the process of migrating his four Microsoft Access desktop applications to the Web with it. In the podcast, Alan tells Melissa why Access worked well for JAC until it came to building a Web app.

He also reveals what it's been like migrating from Access to Alpha Five, the successes he's had, the problems he's encountered, where he turns when he needs questions answered or bugs fixed, and more.

So give the podcast a listen, especially if you're an Access developer looking for a way to get your desktop apps deployed to the cloud. And for nonprofits looking for a cost-effective database application solution, you'll also find this podcast to be valuable.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Getting to know the Xbasic debugger in Alpha Five

Xbasic has been at the heart of Alpha Five for generations. It serves as the foundation of the Alpha Five environment, and lets developer who want to get their hands dirty, get their hands dirty. However, it's not for everyone, especially the faint of heart. It's a professional tool for professional developers.

The average Joe using Alpha Five to build and power his business applications doesn't need to learn Xbasic. Alpha Five generates the Xbasic code under the covers and it never has to be touched. But if you're a professional developer who has worked in Visual Basic or other object-oriented languages, you'll feel right at home with Xbasic. And if you're a Java, PHP, Python, or Pearl developer, you'll see how easy it is to leverage your skills.

For pro developers, Alpha Five's Xbasic debugger is an essential tool. To show it off, my brother Selwyn put together four videos that give you an overview of its major features. Watch them, and if you have any questions afterwards write to me or leave a comment.

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Monday, November 22, 2010

Using Alpha Five to power your nonprofit: the podcast transcript

If you didn't catch our podcast with educator Alex Steinman, I won't give you a demerit. He's the Education Director and Principal of the Harambee Christian School and head of education for the nonprofit Urban Concern. We talked about how he migrated from Microsoft Access to Alpha Five to build his Web app, Harambee Tracker, and much more. Flip back now to listen to the podcast or download the transcript.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to total values in a column using JavaScript

If your end user is dealing with a lot of numbers in their application, whether it's prices or quantities, they might benefit from having a running total of the values they select. For instance, when your end user selects a row using a checkbox, the value in that row is added to the running total in a free-form edit region.

Check the whole column, just a few, or uncheck a row. Or whatever you like. The numbers will constantly update to reflect the correct value. To get these number calculating, you need to create a client-side JavaScript event. Watch the video to learn how to create one that will fire every time the end user selects a row.

Alpha Five puts electronic medical records in the cloud

Yesterday I introduced you to Doug Lyman, CEO and founder of AltaPoint Data Systems. You probably read how Doug used Alpha Five to build, AltaPoint Medical’s Web application counterpart. It gives doctors and patients online access to individual electronic medical records.

Doug was looking for a rapid application development (RAD) platform that would let him build a Web app with the same speed and efficiency as a desktop app, and found it in Alpha Five. So take a look at the finished product. Here's a short demo Doug put together walking you through

Monday, November 15, 2010

Alpha Five helps AltaPoint deploy electronic medical records everywhere doctors and patients are

I was the first to declare the trend that doctors are rushing to embrace Alpha Five. I was partially kidding. But then I talked to Doug Lyman, CEO and founder of AltaPoint Data Systems, who is another Alpha Five developer helping support this trend.

While Doug isn't a doctor, he did develop and is selling AltaPoint's Medical desktop application. It integrates medical practice management with electronic medical records (EMRs) management. He wanted to take his app from the desktop to the Web to give doctors and their patients access to EMRs on any Web-enabled device.

Read how Doug used Alpha Five to bring his idea to fruition below or open the fancy PDF version. And keep your eyes peeled to the blog, I'll be posting a demo of Doug's app shortly.

Customer Name
AltaPoint Data Systems, LLC

Customer Profile
AltaPoint Data Systems, LLC develops and sells practice management software for the health care industry. It is the creator of AltaPoint Medical and AltaPoint Medical is a popular windows-based, desktop application for medical practice management. is AltaPoint Medical’s Web application counterpart, where doctors and patients can access EMRs on any Web-enabled device.

Midvale, Utah

Health care

Customer Situation
Several thousand independent doctors and small group practices worldwide use AltaPoint Data Systems’ Medical practice management software. The AltaPoint Medical desktop application was one of the first platforms to seamlessly integrate medical practice management with electronic medical records (EMRs)management. It lets doctors record and access patients’ EMRs as well as manage their front office with functionality, such as patient scheduling, billing, and insurance claim preparation. AltaPoint Medical’s users have consistently reported that the application meets their EMR needs. However, there is increased pressure to move EMRs to the Web with the Obama administration’s American Reinvestment Recovery Act of 2009. Doug Lyman, CEO and founder of AltaPoint Data Systems, set out to bring AltaPoint Medical to the Web to give doctors and their patients access to EMRs on any Web-enabled device. An experienced developer, Doug knew that a rapid application development (RAD) platform would let him build a Web application with the same speed and efficiency as a desktop application. He also wanted the application to be able to run on a mobile device, including the iPad, iPhone, or any other smart phone. He had to work under a tight budget and deadline. The platform had to connect to AltaPoint Medical’s existing database. And to further customize it down the road, he wanted the ability to deploy the application and replicate it for other solutions.

Partner Solution
Doug searched the market and narrowed down his choices to a few RAD platforms. Alpha Five Version 10 stood out on his list with its free 30-day trial and low licensing fees, as well as its reputation for power and productivity when building Ajax Web 2.0 applications. He downloaded the trial and began testing its features. For instance, the JavaScript with Ajax call-backs (created through an easy visual point and click builder) ensured that the Web application would have the speed of a desktop app, with the ability to run anywhere, including mobile devices. After two weeks of testing, Doug determined that Alpha Five met all of his criteria in a RAD platform. With the help of Alpha Software’s online tutorials, Doug single-handedly built, AltaPoint Medical’s new Web application counterpart, in approximately five months. zPatient is a Web application where patients can access their medical records, which includes medical history, problem lists, prescriptions with online refill requests, immunizations, X-rays and images, lab results, and more. Patients can also see their upcoming medical appointments, review their statement, and even make an online payment.

Alpha Five provided Doug the platform to take EMRs to the Web, and more importantly, to mobile devices for real-time access anytime, anywhere for doctors and patients. Its interface is simple to navigate and the application is easy to learn. Users simply self register and begin using it immediately.

For More Information

Alpha Software, Inc.

AltaPoint Data Systems, LLC

Friday, November 12, 2010

Today's lesson plan: Using Alpha Five to power your nonprofit

There's nothing better than getting up in the morning and feeling like the work you do is making the world a better place. I can't say I feel that way every morning, but the day I got an e-mail from Alex Steinman, Education Director and Principal of the Harambee Christian School and head of education for the nonprofit Urban Concern in Columbus, Ohio, was one of those days.

That's when I learned that Alpha Five was powering a socially responsible application, which strengthens my sense that our technology is doing something meaningful in our world. You've heard me talk about how Alpha Five empowers the every man to do things once only available to professional programmers. Now here's a non-programmer who was able to use Alpha Five to build a Web database application from the ground up that is helping his organization in some fundamental ways.

About four years ago, Alex got the idea to build a database application for users to access information on the students and families the school and nonprofit serves. By definition, nonprofits are resource constrained, so Alex had to build the app himself. He certainly couldn't afford to hire a professional development team.

He started learning Microsoft Access, and built a database where users could remotely access the desktop app at various locations. Even at that time, Alex saw the advantages of using a Web application. He was ready to move from the desktop to the Web. When he looked at the Web-based options in Microsoft Access, he called them "pathetic."

Alex searched for a new platform to take his app to the cloud, and discovered Alpha Five. Using Alpha Five, Alex built his new Web app, Harambee Tracker. It meets all the needs Harambee and Urban Concern have, including housing contact information, group enrollment, attendance, tuition information, and other key metric data.

Because Alpha Five is so easy to use, yet so powerful, Alex didn't have to hire a developer to build his application. This saved his nonprofit thousands of dollars in development and ongoing maintainence costs. Alex has become such an Alpha Five pro that he's even baked in the new feature packs into a redesign he's rolling out in the next few weeks.

I asked Melissa, the voice of the Alpha Software podcasts, to get the full story of Alex's app in his own words. Melissa produced a podcast with Alex and found out how he went from Access to Alpha Five, the steps he took to build his Web application, how he's utilizing the feature packs, what he plans on doing to the app next, and much more.

Slide on your headphones or download the podcast to your MP3 player, and listen to it to see how Alex went from educator, to part-time developer, to problem-solver for the whole organization. If you're a nonprofit looking for an affordable way to build a database application, you'll find this podcast very valuable. Also, don't forget that we offer special discounts to nonprofits.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dispatches from Alpha University Boston, day two

The Learn Xbasic class at Alpha University concluded on Monday, which meant that our Advanced Applications classes were on deck for Tuesday. On day two, both classes ran simultaneously. Jeff Cogswell led the Advanced Wed Applications class while Steve Workings and Jay Talbott led the Advanced Desktop Applications class.

I was going back and forth between both classes all day. I can honestly say that on every occasion I walked into either of the classes, I could hear a pin drop. Every single attendee was so absorbed in what the trainers were teaching them.

After a long day of training there is nothing quite like a little reprieve to the lounge area for a beverage, which is where you'd find most of us. A time to unwind, share thoughts about the day, answer each others questions and well for me, to do my usual Sudoku puzzle!

Our very loyal training attendee, Dick Bruno would present me with a new, custom-designed Sudoku puzzle at the end of each training day. Thanks Dick! Keep your eyes peeled to the blog. I'll be bringing you final updates from days three and four of Alpha University Boston.

Me and my Sudoku provider, Dick

Jay Talbott and Steve Working's Advanced Desktop Applications class

Jeff Cogswell's Advanced Web Applications class

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Mozilla Firebug tutorial for Alpha Five developers

For those of you not familiar with Firebug, let me enlighten you. It's not a new breed of bedbugs infesting our homes or offices. Nor is it something you have to call an exterminator to take care of.

Firebug is not a bug at all. In fact, it gets rid of bugs -- the coding kind. It's a developers tool from Mozilla that integrates with Firefox to let you edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any Web page.

So if you're building a Web app in Alpha Five, Firebug makes a great testing and debugging tool. Even if you don't use Firefox, you might want to fire it up as a testing platform.

If you're ready to give it a run, crack open our new step-by-step tutorial, "A Short Introduction to Firebug with Alpha Five." Put together by Alpha Five developer Jeff Cogswell, he walks you through installing Firebug and using it with Alpha Five.

Once you've put it use, let us know what you think about it.

Dispatches from Alpha University Boston

Alpha University training courses kicked off this week in Boston at the DoubleTree Hotel. I was there on Monday to open the training at the one-day Learn Xbasic class. The room was full of Alpha Software enthusiasts ready to take Xbasic to the next level.

I welcomed everyone and then turned the floor over to veteran instructor and well-respected Alpha Five developer Jay Talbott. He gave outstanding training on manipulating forms and using Xbasic in applications. The rest of the morning was spent with Alpha Software's CTO, Selwyn Rabins, teaching variables, scripts, action scripting, and more.

Many hands went up, which is always a good sign of a class who is learning what they came to learn. After lunch, Jay once again took the spotlight and went into manipulating forms, using Xbasic in applications, Alpha functions, and more.

It was a great opening day for Alpha's first-ever dedicated Xbasic class. I think our attendees walked away with a new wealth of knowledge. I'll be back a little later with a recap of and photos from day two when I was hopping between the Advanced Web Applications and Advanced Desktop Applications class.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Last day to register for Boston Alpha University courses

Don't forget to register for the Boston Alpha University training courses that start on Monday, Nov. 8. Today is the LAST DAY TO REGISTER!

The Learn Xbasic class kicks off Monday. The Advanced Alpha Five Web Applications with JavaScript and jQuery and Advanced Alpha Five Desktop Applications classes run from Tuesday, Nov. 9 to Thursday, Nov. 11. And if you sign up, we're throwing in a big bonus.

A free extra session is being added at the end of training on Wednesday, Nov. 10: Alpha Five Rapid Mobile Application Development. Be one of the first to hear about Alpha's plans to become the ideal platform for rapid mobile database application development.

Led by Bob Moore, Vice President of Mobile Technology, he'll discuss the technologies behind our mobile initiative and walk you through some practical examples.

All courses are taking place at the DoubleTree Hotel in Boston's Theater District. So jump over to the website and register right now if you haven't! Just remember, you cannot pahk ya cah in havahd yahd. ;)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Make your apps pop with new, user-defined pop-up windows

"Once you pop, you can't stop!" Especially if you want to create a rich user experience for your apps. Sure, I might be borrowing the jingle behind an old Pringles ad, but it'll help me get my point across. The new Generic User Defined Ajax Windows feature pack lets you create user defined pop-up windows on your Grid component.

You were always able to create pop-up windows on the Grid, but they've been for a special purpose, such as to display another Grid Component, a report, or an A5W page. Now you have the ability to put any content you'd like in a pop-up window.

You can also specify if your pop-up window is modal, modeless, or dropdown windows. In the case of modal and modeless windows, you get more control over where the window is actually displayed. To populate the contents of the window, you can:

  • Make an Ajax callback to the server where an Xbasic function that you specify will compute the HTML to display in the window
  • Call a JavaScript function that will compute the HTML to display in the window
  • Define the HTML to display in the window at the same time you define the action
  • Display the contents of a hidden DIV in the window

My brother Selwyn put together five videos for you to familiarize yourself with this new Alpha Five Version 10.5 feature pack. Hit play and then jump over to the release notes if you have any other questions.

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Inc. Magazine helps you 'Select the Best Database Software'

Earlier this week, Inc. Magazine published the article, "How to Select the Best Database Software" and included some know-how from our own Alpha Five developer, Jeff Cogswell. It covered database software types, Web vs. desktop, database lingo, and so on. I want to thank Inc. reporter Faith Thomas for covering this topic and including Jeff's thoughts in it.

Small businesses need this type of information at their disposal. But as I said in my comment, the one aspect that I felt the article missed was the importance of how easy or difficult it is for a small business to actually build and manage databases.

There are all manner of database tools out there, but readers who are interested in building their own databases for their business, whether it’s for the desktop or the Web, should look at RAD tools. Flip over to my comment to get my full feedback.

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