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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Monday, July 25, 2011

LunchWorks saves 'tens of thousands of dollars,' with Alpha Five

Every so often, I get an e-mail from a programmer letting me know how well Alpha Five has worked for them. But it's e-mails like the one below that really stand out to me, because they're from people who aren't professional programmers. They're people from other fields who have been able to use Alpha Five to create an application that works for their business.

The other day I received this note from Larry Bee, who runs a nation-wide networking business called LunchWorks. What you see below is his exact note to me, verbatim -- we haven't changed a thing.

It's great to know that doing what I love is helping other people do what they love. Thanks again to Larry for taking the time to let us know about your success with Alpha Five Version 10.

Hello Richard,

I started a small national business called LunchWorks.
LunchWorks is a business to business networking organization.
LunchWorks sends out 4 business people at a time to lunch together.
If the group has 100 people in it, there would be 25 groups of 4 eating lunch in 25 different restaurants.

Every week the business members and restaurants are rotated thereby allowing the members to meet new members and different restaurants. The idea of having members spending time with fellow members breaking bread, low stress and getting to know each other on a deeper level is very good for business.
While I am in the computer consulting business, I am not a programmer by trade.
The last time I programmed was in the early 90's using your product.

I started this endeavor May of 2010 and learned everything from scratch.
The great thing about A5v10 is that it allows me to create a whole interactive web application from soup to nuts myself.
Yes, I did spend a whole lot of time learning how to use it, but I did expect there would be a learning curve for software completely new to me.
Given that I had special back office processing needs learning XBasic was also necessary.

Again, I am an example that if one is willing to put in the time to learn the product (Susan Bush's book), learn Xbasic (Dr. Wayne's book) buy the framework (Steve Woods - Alpha2go) and spend time on the forum for answers, then creating the web application of your dreams is possible. The application is web based and automates the whole process of managing the members, restaurants, network groups, performing the member/restaurant rotations, sending out the emails, the member/leader accounting and more.

It's pretty cool and I am quite proud of it. While it is not as slick as some of what the other developers do professionally I am very proud to say that I have created a commercial product being used now allowing me to move forward in growing my business. You may be wondering if there is something for you to look at, well since it is a back office application there is no open public web page. One must log in to use the application. If you want to see what I have done I would be happy to share it with you.

All in all, I am quite excited about A5V10 and without it, I would never have gotten this business venture off the ground without having to spend 10's of thousands of dollars in ongoing development cost.

Thanks for writing a great database development program.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More experts weigh in: HTML5 is the future of development

More articles are coming out advocating developers make the switch to HTML5 and Javascript for more than just mobile apps, but for all their apps.

We started talking about the importance of HTML 5 back in April, when we debuted a feature peek for Version 11 demonstrating Alpha Five's support for HTML 5.

But now, four months later, it seems that broader industry and the media are paying attention. Here's a brief list of articles that illustrate my point.
Take a look at what these folks are saying: Build on the desktop, run anywhere there's a browser.We've been giving this advice to developers for months, but now you don't have to take our word for it. Take your advice from CNN, Ars technica, McKinsey Quarterly, or JavaWorld.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

How HTML5 will spur a mobile revolution and what that means for the rest of us

With HTML5 sweeping the web, what does it mean for consumers, software developers, and executives? Well, according to a new article in McKinsey Quarterly, the future is looking bright for us all.

Bengi Korkmaz, Richard Lee, and Ickjin Park recently published a piece declaring HTML5's ability to spark a mobile revolution. They expect HTML5 to boost the power of mobile devices by accelerating the way people consume content, and increasing the use of smartphones as marketing platforms and productivity tools.

This shift towards mobile Web centricity ushers in a wave of important changes for consumers, the industry, and executives, which Bengi, Richard, and Ickjin outline in their article.

Of course I was curious to read what they had to say about the future for software developers and, as a person from a company that is about to deliver a platform that makes great use of HTML5 as a platform for delivering potent Web and mobile business applications, I was pretty excited to hear their predictions.

Click over to their article to read more about what they believe HTML5 future has in store for you.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Alpha Version 11 Feature Peek #16: Your code is our command

Your code is our command! We've been working on the custom component in Alpha Five Version 11 specifically for those developers who spend a lot of time working with Xbasic. So today, I'm happy to share some great feature peeks that will give you an idea of how Version 11 will work with XBasic, and some really cool improvements we're bringing to the XBasic universe.

Selwyn put together a series of videos to give you a basic overview of the custom component. They will explain what it is, how it can be called from a grid component, and how the values of the arguments defined in the custom component can be passed in from data in the current grid row -- all using XBasic of course!

The first video demonstrates how the component defines arguments whose value can be passed in from the calling program. After opening a new file, click on the new "custom component" icon, and the builder window will pop up to show you where to go to start building with your own XBasic code. In this case, Selwyn heads to the InitialRender function.

Once he gets there, our coding is already displayed and he is free to supplement it with his own, creating an argument. After you've created your argument, be sure to use it to replace the default XML. Once you've completed those steps, you'll be able to take your custom component and use it as a grid component.

The second video, picking up where we left off, starts right in with defining your grid. You'll have to insert a button into the grid in order to open your custom component, and immediately you'll be prompted to assign a value to that argument. Here, you'll get the chance to bind the value of the argument that you created for your custom component to a field in the current grid row.

Now, I know what you'll be thinking before you're thinking it: These first two videos were cool, but I haven't seen something I'd use often. Don't worry! Up next, our videos will demonstrate a more realistic example where the custom component is used to define a pie chart displaying the breakdown of items on an order.

For the demonstration in the second part of the second video, Selwyn will lead you to a component that he previously created, filled in with data from a sample database. Showcasing some more animation, he opens a pie chart using an action Java button that breaks down the sample data shown in his grid.

Selwyn will take a quick second to backtrack into design mode so that you can take a look at the button that opened Selwyn's custom component, and how the arguments bind values to their current row. In a closer look of Selwyn's component in edit mode, you'll see the exact line of XBasic coding that Selwyn used to create the pie chart.

The third and final video will finish up with a walk-through of the different functions within the XBasic function that were used to generate the components. This includes an in-depth look of the graphing functions used for the pie chart, the definition of the chart data, and more.  

Phew -- that was a lot to cover! Just like our XBasic coders have been anticipating the ability to use their own code, we can't wait to see the apps that they come up with after creating their own custom components! Message to Alpha Five developers working in XBasic code: Click the videos below for inspiration!

Video one 

Video two

Video three 

Friday, July 08, 2011

Alpha Five Version 11 Feature Peek #15: Customizing the grid builder for international developers

With international offices in Singapore, South Africa, the U.S., the U.K., Poland, and Abu Dhabi, it's safe to say that Alpha Five has developers all over the world.

In fact, back in January I noticed that our website traffic came from all over the world! So while we were working on Alpha Five Version 11, we kept in mind that many of our developers spoke different languages.

Although our grid builder has always allowed our users to set their own default properties, those properties were only activated when creating a new grid. In Version 11, the default properties will always be used -- even if you use a template. This makes it much, much easier to customize the grid builder for our developers whose native language is not English.

To change the language of a grid, head to the grid builder and click on "options," just like always. But this time, you'll see a new choice in the drop-down menu labeled, "set default properties." When it's selected, you'll get a full window showing the default property values, and have the option of either defining the default property values yourself, or making changes to the predetermined system default property values.

Once you've laid out the properties in whatever language you've chosen, head over to make your grid, and activate it with your customized properties. Make sure to turn on the working preview so that you know the language has been changed.

And voila! Successone! Ai caramba! Wunderbar! Click on the video below to find out how you can create a new grid that speaks a brand new language.

Grid component builder for international developers 

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Alpha Five Version 11 Feature Peek # 14: Your total summary values get a total makeover

Lately, we've been eating, sleeping, and breathing Alpha Five Version 11, and that's OK with me! I can't wait to kick off the Alpha UK launch and Developer Conference, where I'll be giving away the beta version, and Selwyn has been producing feature peeks faster than I can post them!

So let me get right into this next one. The focus here is on customization and convenience. You can now adjust the appearance of your summary values in the grid component. Until Version 11, changing the style of the total value of your fields was something that required you to write your own code, but that's a thing of the past.

In the video, you’ll see that the trick to making this happen is by applying conditional rules. For example, if the total happens to be less than 10, the value is displayed in red; if the total is between 11 and 20, it’s blue.

See, you could easily set everything to a default option to be applied to all your summary values, but that’s no fun, right? So let Selwyn take you into design mode to show you how to get the font, size, and color that will make the total value stand out.

This is a feature that I think you guys will really enjoy. The ability to dynamically alter the in-line style of the summary value will make the results of your data recognizable at a glance, because now your totals, averages, and the rest of your summary values can be styled conditionally based on the look that you chose.

So take a look by clicking the video below, and start thinking about how you'll customize your summary values in Version 11.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Alpha Five Version 11 Feature Peek #13: Search, save, reload

Earlier this week I posted the agenda for the Alpha UK launch and Developer Conference, where we'll be giving out the beta version of Alpha Five Version 11. But if you're itching to give it a test drive, I've got two new feature peek videos from Selwyn that I hope will hold you over for now.

These two videos show another new feature for the grid component in Version 11. With this one, you can run a search once and save it, so you can pull up the results whenever you want without having to input the search criteria again.

In the first video, you'll learn how to turn this feature on by first heading into design mode and selecting two new properties labeled, "allow user to save criteria" and "allow user to load criteria." Then you'll mosey over to Web control panel to connect this to your repository table. Two new icons will now appear on your search toolbar for saving and loading search criteria. Nice and quick!

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