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, September 28, 2011

The Alpha Five Version 11 beta testers have delivered the verdict. The #1 feature is ...

To me, the whole process of selecting beta testers for a new product is a lot like jury selection -- except I hope the beta testers enjoyed this more than they do jury duty! The principle is the same: gathering educated but objective people to make an honest decision.

I take this process seriously because these volunteers represent all the users out there. We divided our testers into three categories that we feel best describe Alpha users: professional software consultants who build applications for clients, those who work in large organizations and build applications, and those who work in small and medium-sized organizations and build applications.

After experiencing Alpha Five Version 11, they answered a series of questions for us. I'm proud to report that there was little to no critical feedback -- the vast majority of these guys were familiar with most of our competitor's platforms and still gave us rave reviews!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Alpha Five Version 11 Feature Peek #28: To show or not to show, that is the expression

In this next feature peek video, Selwyn will show how you can add animation to your client-side show/hide expressions in Alpha Five Version 11. This functionality was introduced in Version 10, and we've stepped it up a bit in Version 11.

Selwyn will show you an example grid with several fields that are held in a container within design mode. For the purpose of the animation, Selwyn has set them up so that they hide unless "Massachusetts" is entered into the field where the state name belongs.

He'll define a button in "field properties" with a show/hide expression, so this container will only be shown if the state entered into the field is Massachusetts. Notice also under "field properties" that in addition to the show/hide expression in the syntax, you'll find the animation command.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A few more of my favorite things ...

The other day, I listed a few of my favorite things, but did you think I would really end at the dialogue component in Alpha Five Version 11?

I'd love to dedicate a post just to Clifton, or maybe the game of cricket, but for now, I'm going to move on to our summary of my favorite features in Version 11's grid component.

The first feature I'm excited about is the alternate views for the Web Grid. The tabular and columnar views of a grid convey a lot of information, but the human eye is much more sensitive to shapes and colors than it is to variations in text.

So we thought that with an alternate view of a grid, you could display the same information in a way that will really grab the user. For example, if it's geographical information, the best display might be a map. If it's scheduling information, the best display might be a calendar.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Medical Wizard's competitive analysis on how Alpha Five beats out Visual Studio, Iron Speed, Real Studio, 4D, Servoy, and WinDev

As a software marketer, you know it's going to be a good day at work when a customer sends you an email telling you why your product is better than some of your arch rivals'. And you know it's going to be an even better day when they share a competitive analysis they did that led to that conclusion. And you know it's going to be an even better day when they give you permission to run it on your blog.

Chandana Weerakoon is one of the Directors of Mouse Soft Australia Pty. Ltd., an Australian software development company that develops and markets IT healthcare products like Medical Wizard.

Medical Wizard is a suite of software solutions used for day surgeries and specialist consulting suites in Australia. Chandana had a long list of candidates to investigate when it came to choosing a development platform for Medical Wizard. 

He was kind enough to share their evaluation process with me, and sent over a full competitive analysis cataloging their selection method and final decision. 

I asked Chandana if I could share their analysis here, and he was more than happy to oblige. Make sure to give it a read, and thanks to Chandana for giving me an inside look at their search.

Hi Richard

Thanks for the reply.

I am really happy that you took time to reply to my email. It is so important for business owners / management, to be in touch with their clients directly. I myself practice this so that I am always aware of what our customers feel, want and dislike in our products and services. In that respect, now I am even more convinced that I made the right choice with Alpha.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Form layouts, repeating sections, and automatic fields -- these are a few of my favorite things! When the dog bites ...

Don't worry, I haven't taken up singing. I'm just excited about all the new features included in Alpha Five Version 11. The dialogue component is a feature that we spent a little extra time on, and even though we've done a few feature peeks on it in the past, I wanted to provide an overview with the highlights.

The dialogue builder allows you to build a form layout to collect values from the user. When the user submits the data, you're free to use it in any way. For example, you might store the data in a table, or include it in an email.

The dialogue builder allows you to create something that we call "repeating sections." These are ideal when you are creating forms that have one-to-many (i.e. master-detail) relationships.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Alpha Five Version 11 Feature Peek #27: All in the family with parent-child grids

New feature in Alpha Five Version 11 -- the grid family tree! Just kidding, I haven't actually mapped out a family tree for the grids. Read on to see what I mean.

In these next two videos, Selwyn talks about how you can use a server-side event and some JavaScript to lay out the position of linked content sections in a grid with precision.

Video one opens in working preview where Selwyn has set up a simple example grid that has faux customers' state of residence, and two additional grids showing city and last name. So when a state is selected, the second grid automatically displays all cities in the state, and the third grid has all the customers in that city.

Each grid has an embedded grid within it, and you can see that by going into design mode and looking under "linked content definition."

We call these parent-child grids because the state grid has the city grid inside of it, and the city grid has the last name grid inside of it, and so on, right down the line of the family tree.

You can display these sequentially, vertically, or horizontally -- it just takes a little JavaScript. Selwyn will walk you though the process.

The second video completes the method of JavaScript coding in design mode by using a server-side event called "on after existing rows rendered." He heads into that code and adds the remaining JavaScript.

Watch these two videos to see how you can precisely locate your grid's linked content!

Video One

Video Two

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Alpha Five Version 11 Feature Peek #26: Lights, camera, action ... buttons!

Whenever the word action is involved, you can be pretty sure that something exciting is about to happen. That's why we only include it in the titles of features that are going to have a lot of impact, like this one.

In this video, Selwyn will discuss the technique of activating action buttons. It starts out as simple as it gets -- with a standard grid. As an example, he's set up two action buttons, one is a hyperlink and the other is just a sample button.

Now, Selwyn's clicking on these buttons with his mouse, but he's about to get into how to invoke those buttons using JavaScript. Hands, or mouse, free!

To learn how to get this on your application, you're going to need to know what's going on in the browser while this component is running. Selwyn goes into the DOM mode of his Firefox browser and points out the three JavaScript functions that make this possible.

From here, you'll create these functions after you get into design mode. Most of this is done after selecting "toolbar action items," which will display the "custom toolbar buttons" window.

Selwyn will finish up the video by showing you how to name and specify the actions of your buttons. But I'll save the best for last! Click on the video at the end of this post to learn how to bring action to your buttons! 


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