Alpha Software is focused on enabling developers to create robust, data-driven business applications that run on any PC, Tablet or Smartphone in the fastest, most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Android fragmentation igniting developer burnout

It turns out that developing for Android is anything but robotic. Instead of being able to build an app and just deploy it to all Android devices, the fragmentation in the Android universe is much like Unix was years ago.

Back then there was a whole bunch of different flavors. An app built for one version of Unix didn't run on another.

In fact, InfoWorld covered the latest Appcelerator/IDC mobile survey that found Android developers are frustrated with OS fragmentation and multiple app stores. (I really want to say I told you so, but I'll hold off for right now.)

Then the Nielsen Company found in its monthly survey of U.S. smart phone consumers that Android is now the most desired OS in America. With the Android now eclipsing the iPhone as the preferred OS, it's clear that developers are under increasing pressure to support multiple mobile operating systems. Frankly, it would be really nice if the iPhone reigned as the dominant platform, because then you could just focus on building apps for the iPhone.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

InfoWorld shares 9 cloud development gotchas and how to avoid them

When we heard that InfoWorld Reporter Bob Violino was looking for sources who could talk about the challenges in cloud development, we knew we had just the guy. We hooked Bob up with Greg Taylor from The Ohio Music Education Association.

Greg had experience using a consumer database named FileMaker, which doesn't scale well to the cloud. In the article, "Cloud development: 9 gotchas to know before you jump in,"Greg talks about some of the things he learned when moving from a consumer database to a truly professional tool such as Alpha Five Version 10.5. And moreover, how Alpha Five helped him overcome those challenges that vex developers who are trying to move to the cloud.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Alpha Five Version 11 Feature Peek #6: Primp your PDF

How fancy you design PDF documents in your Alpha Five Web app is up to you. But now you can control how much or how little of the PDF you want displayed. In Alpha Five Version 11 we've added a new set of parameters in the Tabbed UI to let you control how a PDF is initially displayed in the PDF Viewer.

Prior to this, the PDF Viewer would decide internally how to display the PDF. It set the zoom and what part of the page that would be shown. You had limited control. Now you can specify how you want the PDF to be displayed under the PDF Open Parameters option. You can even set a parameter that will automatically execute a search in the PDF when it's opened.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Alpha Five is the antidote to controlling your business logic on the Web

I was going through my e-mail the other day when I saw a note from Bert TerHart of System Modal Software. He had a few questions about the Web application he just finished building using Alpha Five Version 10.5 for Factors Group, Canada's largest supplement and nutriceutical manufacturer.

Being the talkative guy I am, I called Bert up on the phone to find out more about this Web app and how it's helping Factors Group. I found out that Bert's been a developer for years and has used tools such as Superbase, Delphi, and Access in the past. It was only recently that he was introduced to Alpha Five to build this application.

You see, Factors Group underwrites a good deal of medical research. It was spending $40,000 to $90,000 per study to capture, retrieve, and archive data. Frankly, it was tired of being held hostage by this outside data service and its own IT department. So a friend of Bert's who works at Factors asked him to develop something similar, but suggested using Alpha Five Version 10.5.

The project called for an application that could be used for an unlimited number of studies, each study to be managed by one or more clinics, and for each clinic to have multiple practitioners, research associates, and dietitians. The application need to be browser-based, served over the Internet, and secured via role-based user permissions. Alpha Five met that criteria, so Bert got building!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NetworkWorld covers how 'mobile, cloud are changing application development'

With the proliferation of mobile operating systems, it's not a huge surprise to me that a new Forrester Research report found that "new technologies like mobile and cloud are changing the way developers work."

Alpha Software saw this shift coming, and I suspect a lot of other software companies did as well. It's one of the reasons why we're releasing our Mobile Development Framework in Alpha Five Version 11.

Last week I even gave you a sneak peek of it and the native feel that HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript can give a mobile app.

NetworkWorld did the leg work and dove into other major findings from "The State Of Application Development In Enterprises And SMBs" report in the article "Mobile, cloud are changing application development."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Demo: Alpha Five cuts the development cycle of a complex Web app from 18 months to 90 days

When I told you about the highly complex Web application LANCOR built for The Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations in just 90 days, I also promised you a demo. And the folks at LANCOR were kind enough to put together a quick run through of GAP4, the application now used by The Mission.

In case you missed the full case study, before GAP4, The Mission was using typewriters or pen and paper to process all accounting and finance operations. I'll leave it up to you to imagine how time consuming that was. Watch how LANCOR was able to computerize this process to let The Mission process invoices, payroll, and payments within minutes, and so much more.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Alpha Five Version 11 Feature Peek #5: Going mobile

In case you haven't been catching my not-so-subtle hints, Alpha Five Version 11 is going to include a mobile development framework. I'm pretty amped up about this and here's why. Developers today have to build for six mobile operating systems, including iOS from Apple, Android from Google, Symbian from Nokia, Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft, RIM from BlackBerry, and webOS for HP/Palm.

And I'm sure even more operating systems will be popping up in the near future. Developers are going to burn out trying to keep pace with the proliferation of mobile operating systems and the demands of application development.

But what Alpha Five has been able to do for building mobile applications is, I think, pretty groundbreaking. Essentially, you will build your mobile application once and be able to run it across every mobile platform on the market, including tablets. But here's the best part: It will look and behave like a native application.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

QuickBase, Caspio, Zoho, and other Web-based database developers: Free your database for $149

When I told you what the fundamental problem is with Web-based development tools such as QuickBase, Caspio, Zoho, and others, I promised a competitive upgrade to Alpha Five Version 10.5 for those developers. No need to wait any longer to find out what it is! We announced the upgrade today in a press release.

To get Alpha Five Version 10.5 for $149 -- a $200 savings -- developers simply have to send an e-mail to with the words: “I’m a (insert name of product) developer who needs a secure home for my database” in the subject line. Read the press release below to get the rest of the details.

Competitive upgrade for Alpha Five Version 10.5 gives QuickBase, Caspio, Zoho, and other Web-based databases a reliable future in the cloud

BURLINGTON, Mass. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The recent demise of Dabble DB follows on the heels of the earlier expiration of Microsoft Popfly and Coghead. These deceased applications confirm a fundamental problem with the Web-based development tool model: You don’t really own your business logic or your application’s future when you commit a database application to a Web-based development tool. And developers who have their databases locked in Intuit's QuickBase, Caspio, Zoho, or are considering making the move to another Web-based development tool, are at significant risk.

Nigeria’s UN Permanent Mission closes the information gap with Alpha Five

When was the last time you used a typewriter? I can't even recall the last time I laid my hands on one, let alone used it for work. But the folks at The Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations were still using typewriters just a year ago to handle their finance operations -- that is, until they were introduced to Alpha Five Version 10.

The Mission heard about an application that Lagos Analysis Corporation (LANCOR), an Alpha Five partner, built for The Consulate General of Nigeria, New York to computerize its finance and accounting operations. The Mission approached LANCOR to build a similar application.

In just 90 days, LANCOR built a highly complex Web application for The Mission using Alpha Five Version 10 that digitized its finance operations. Read the case study below to find out how LANCOR took The Mission from typewriters to the Web. Or, download the dressed-up PDF. And stay tuned to this spot, because I'll post of a demo of the Web app soon.

Customer Name
Lagos Analysis Corporation (LANCOR)

Customer Profile
LANCOR is a professional consulting and R&D service firm, specializing in process re-engineering and offering new process-based concepts, designs and solutions in technology transformation to private and public sector clients around the world.

Natick, Mass.

Business operations computerization and application development

Friday, April 08, 2011

Clifton Rabins is 2 today!

Two years ago today, 12 little Irish Setters we're brought into the world. And one of those puppies was Clifton Rabins. Since the day we adopted Clifton, he's brought so much joy into my family's world, as well as Alpha Software's.

Clifton's daily commutes to work and his help around the office eventually led to his promotion to Director of Sniff Testing at Alpha. It even got his name in ink. For only being two years old, Clifton has a pretty impressive resume. :)

So in honor of this day, I wanted to say happy birthday to my boy Clifton! If you want to wish Clifton a happy birthday too, you can do so via his LinkedIn page. Now it's time to share some recent photos of the fella. Take a look below.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Did you watch the 2011 Cricket World Cup?

Over the weekend, the 2011 Cricket World Cup came to an end with India taking home the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy.

I was so distraught by South Africa's elimination by New Zealand in the quarter finals that I forgot to write a blog post about the event!

I think other sports fans can commiserate with my oversight, especially those who know how much I love cricket.

But instead of harping on South Africa's loss, I want to congratulate India on their magnificent and well deserved win. India is the first nation to win a World Cup final on home soil. Cheers boys!

If you're in the U.S., you probably didn't hear a peep about the Cricket World Cup. Despite my blogging on subject, cricket hasn't become popular in this country. I'm shocked. I was convinced that a few blog posts here would have catapulted cricket to major prominence in the U.S. :) Actually it's a shame if you missed the series because there was some heart-pounding matches.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The problem with QuickBase, Caspio, Zoho, and other Web-based development tools

We recently announced a competitive upgrade for Dabble DB developers whose databases were left out in the cold when they closed shop.

No sooner had we done that, we heard Intuit's QuickBase was trying to do the same thing: Lure Dabble DB developers over to its platform. Low and behold, Caspio and Zoho joined the fray too.

All four platforms -- QuickBase, Caspio, Zoho, and Alpha Five -- are trying to incentivize Dabble DB developers to come to their camp. But there's one fundamental difference between Alpha Software and all the others.

QuickBase, Caspio, and Zoho are the wolf dressed up as the lovable little grandmother with a hidden agenda. I'm not saying they're evil like the wolf, but it doesn't makes sense to go from cloud to cloud. Let's look at the logic, or should I say illogic, of accepting a competitive upgrade offer from QuickBase, Caspio, Zoho, or another Web-based development tool vendor.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Alpha Five Version 11 Feature Peek #4: Dropbox integration for image management

One of the new capabilities of Alpha Five Version 11 will be Dropbox integration with your Alpha Five Web or mobile app. Alpha Developer Bob Moore designed a way to upload a large number of image files quickly to the server using Dropbox. Then those files are displayed right in the Web app.

This is a handy and efficient technique to get a lot of photos added to a Web app quickly. And since the Dropbox iPhone/iPad app is free, you can upload images right from your smart phone camera. So your end user can upload a bunch of images right from the field.

Watch the video to see how Bob sets up this integration and how you can even automatically resize the images, generate thumbnails images, and more. By the way, this isn't limited to images. The fact that you have Dropbox integration opens up a whole bunch of collaboration opportunities for your database applications.

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