What Would the Web Look Like If Everyone Could Build Their Own Web 2.0 Data-Driven Apps?

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Newest release of Alpha Five bridges the gap between professional programming power and approachability by the average user

Imagine how different the world would be if only skilled developers could build a blog. But instead, building a blog is as easy as logging on to WordPress or Blogger, getting your head around some basic concepts, and before you know it, you're blogging. That approachability coupled with the incredible power embodied by blogging software has transformed our world. Now anyone can become a publisher. In the technology industry alone, publishing titans have been overtaken by upstarts such as TechCrunch, Engadget, and Scobleizer, all of which were made possible by the ease of blogging software.

What if the same could be said for building Web apps overall? We're not yet at the point where anyone with an idea can express it as an interactive Web 2.0 application. But today, we took another giant step closer to that dream with the release of Alpha Five Version 10.5, which features five new feature packs that add exciting new capabilities to the core Alpha Five platform. This new release gives anyone, from the professional developer to the novice, the ability to express their business ideas faster and with less complexity than ever before.

Professional developers will find everything they could wish for in a robust development environment, especially the ability to build Ajax-powered, SQL database-driven Web apps without having to code. Plus, Web-based apps are enabled to run smoothly on mobile devices such as the iPad and iPhone. And for developers, who want to code, integrate with Web services, or tie in external JavaScript libraries, Alpha Five meets those needs as well. Business users will find they can take their Excel and other basic desktop skills and use them to realize their ideas without having to learn complicated programming languages, such as Visual Basic, Microsoft Access, or PHP. Alpha Five Version 10.5 is that rare product that is able to bridge the skills gap, satisfying the demanding requirements of professional developers, while letting anyone with industry expertise who wants to strike their fortune, build a Web app to get started.

"We're excited to extend the functionality of Alpha Five in a way we've never done before, with five important add-ons that give developers additional capabilities in the Grid component, Tabbed UI component, Application Server, SQL databases, and more," says Richard Rabins, Co-Chairman of Alpha Software. "Our goal is to always add more power and features while reducing complexity. I think we've accomplished that again with Alpha Five Version 10.5."

Alpha Five Version 10.5 gives users important performance improvements, more features driven by user feedback, internationalization support, the first context sensitive wiki help system, and the framework for the first Alpha Five feature packs to ever be released. Here's what is in each feature pack:

  • Feature Pack 1: Advanced Search Features for Grid Components provides developers with more control and creativity when customizing the Search part in the Grid component. It can now be animated when it's hidden/shown with three effects: drop down, slide in, or fade in. There is an option to also embed a Search part or a free-form Search Part above or below Grid titles, and define custom sort expressions. These new capabilities are a powerful way to extend the functionality of the Search part.

  • Feature Pack 2: Tree Control Record Navigator for Grid Components adds a dynamically generated tree control that developers can use to filter the Grid. When a node in the tree is expanded, an Ajax callback is made to populate that node of the tree. When an entry in the tree is selected, the Grid is filtered on the selected entry in the tree control. This allows for more navigation in the Grid and provides more flexibility when creating queries.

  • Feature Pack 3: Grid Components for Desktop Applications gives developers the option to embed a Grid Component into a form or use Action Scripting to open a window that contains a Grid Component. This brings the powerful and flexible graphical user interfaces (GUIs) found in Web components to the desktop.

  • Feature Pack 4: Flying Start Genie for Web Applications automatically creates a Grid component for every table in the database for new Web apps, and puts the tables into a Tabbed UI component that serves as the home page for auto-generated applications. It can be used against SQL databases and native Alpha Five databases (.dbf tables). The Genie significantly speeds up the creation of new apps while still giving developers the control to edit any of the components in the Grid Component editor, customize properties, and set defaults for all of the Grids that are created.

  • Feature Pack 5: Upsize Database Genie for .dbf Applications moves your desktop application that uses .dbf tables to any SQL database. The Genie automatically upsizes your application for robust data storage. The application becomes scalable, has better multi-user performance, true client/server architecture, and multi-user applications that work over IP networks.

For more information on Alpha Five Version 10.5 and the five new feature packs, visit the Alpha Software blog, website


Since 1982, Alpha Software has been providing developers with award-winning tools that make it easy to build business applications. Today over 1 million developers and tens of millions of 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 http://www.AlphaSoftware.com. The company's blog is located at http://blog.AlphaSoftware.com.