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.

Share this blog:

Showing posts with label Caspio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Caspio. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dan Bricklin on mobile application development

Few commercial software companies have been in the business as long as Alpha Software. This is a tough, competitive industry that changes overnight. Companies that are leaders at one point can be quickly overtaken by new trends. Very few companies survive in the software industry beyond one era.

Some of the notable ones are, of course, Microsoft, IBM, and Apple. Yes, I know Apple builds hardware, but they also build software. In fact, I would argue that it's their software that makes their hardware so appealing.

But I'll throw out some names that were huge when Alpha Software first started 26 years ago who are now nothing more than footnotes in the history of computing. Ashton-Tate, WordPerfect, XyWrite, Quarterdeck, PFS, Digital Research, and WordStar.

There's another name that is also a footnote, but it's a footnote that spawned the industry. That company was Software Arts, Inc., which created VisiCalc. It was the first commercial spreadsheet for the Apple II. VisiCalc legitimized the personal computer, and spawned the industry that we know today. It was the first killer app that businesses could use right away and get real benefits from.

Here we are 29 years later, and Alpha Software is still around. And it's for one reason. We've ensured that our Alpha Five platform has kept pace with the changes and developments in the industry. If you're a long-time user of Alpha, you know how we've taken our developers from DOS, to Windows, to the Web, to the cloud, and now to mobile.

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.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reasons why Trackvia's online database is not better than a spreadsheet

Trackvia recently published a top 10 list of reasons an online database is better than a spreadsheet.

Their argument holds water when it's applied to disposable applications. But it's a colossal FAIL in the making when it's applied to professional developers or business-critical requirements.

Web applications certainly have a long list of real advantages over desktop apps. We are excited by the rich and fast Web apps that can be built using AJAX methods (which is why Alpha Five v10 will introduce codeless AJAX).

But when the development tool lives on a vendor's proprietary Web platform, you lose control. We think loss of control is reason enough to avoid Web-based development platforms like the plague for any non-trivial application development.

In the worst case scenario, you run a real risk of the vendor suspending service or going out of business. Remember Coghead? They were not the first Web-based dev platform to fail, and they won't be the last.

There are other risks. What happens when the Web-based dev tool company increases the cost of their service? Answer: Your operational costs go up. It's conceivable that a major price increase could raise your operational costs beyond the point of feasibility.

What if you're using a Web-based dev tool to build, sell, and operate a commercial on-demand application (SaaS/software as a service)? A price increase could break your business model.

In both cases, you're done. Out of business. Put a fork in it.

This problem isn't limited to Trackvia. It's a problem with all Web-based development environments (think Zoho, Caspio, etc.). Say you built a project manager using Intuit's Quickbase platform. Now suppose Intuit management decides to increase their monthly fees (maybe Wall Street is demanding more profits). This would threaten your business.

Simply put, it's too risky to have your business, or any business, held hostage by the model used by vendors of Web-based development tools..

By contrast, when your Web development tool is sitting on your desktop, you have ultimate control and flexibility. You can host your Web app with any ISP, across multiple ISPs for redundancy, on your servers, on a VPS, in the Amazon cloud, or on other clouds as they emerge.

Of course, all software development platforms present risk. (We published a white paper on this some time ago.) The choice is never easy or risk free. But some platforms have more risk than others. And all Web-based database platforms are bristling with risk, by their very definition.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Coghead bites the dust

For those that haven't heard the news, Coghead is closing up shop. When the company launched in 2006, it picked up a ton of industry buzz (and VC) for allowing non-programmers to build data-driven Web applications, and build them on the Web (as opposed to build on the desktop and deploy on the Web). So much for this pure Web dev play.

Platforms like Coghead, Blist, DabbleDB, Caspio, Zoho, Google Docs, etc., allow users to build simple databases in the cloud. Operative word: simple. While cloud-based tools work for simple databases, spreadsheets, lists, docs, and online organizers, they're not appropriate for serious development work.

You'll discover all of these Web-based dev tools run out of steam fast as soon as you try to build something that solves a real business problem -- that is, something more complex than a basic list. And therein lies the rub, because most developers, businesses, and even enthusiasts have ideas that are bigger than these tools can handle.

Worse, Coghead's demise points to the No. 1 problem I see with cloud computing in general: Who owns your data, and what happens to it if the vendor goes bust? The investment in time and information that people made building apps on Coghead is gone, and their data is too, if they don't act fast to save it. (Hopefully Coghead has an export function.)

I consider Coghead et al. more proof-of-concept products than real database development platforms. This isn't to say that cloud-based dev tools don't have potential. But it will be years before developers will be able to build mission-critical apps with them, let alone line-of-business apps.

I love the concept of a database RAD IDE hosted entirely in the cloud. But the infrastructure required to bring that concept to reality is still evolving. And as is the case with Coghead, many of these companies don't have the luxury of time, especially in today's economy.

These are some of the reasons we decided to continue to invest in Alpha Five as a desktop RAD IDE that you use to build Web-based database applications. With version 10 (which is inching closer to a beta release), the resulting applications can be powered by AJAX on the front- and back-ends, making your Web applications as responsive and interactive as desktop apps.

Build on the desktop. Deploy on the Web. That's the model for Alpha Five going forward, because that's the model that allows any developer of any skill level to bring their ideas to life.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...