Building a Website
Alpha Five v10 Boasts Codeless AJAX
Alpha Five Version 10, the latest version from Alpha Software, lets you create Web-based database applications using Codeless AJAX technology.
The Alpha Five v10 Developer version sells for $349.00 (with a free 30-day trial), and the Alpha Five v10 Application Server is $599. You can purchase both for $799.
Alpha Five is a database development tool that has its roots in software that was first created nearly 30 years ago. It was originally one of the early database tools that competed with products such as FoxPro and, later, Microsoft Access. While most of the other tools are long gone, Alpha Five has continued evolving and growing as it keeps up with modern technology.
Case in point: When it became clear that the Web was here
to stay, Alpha Software added Web capabilities to Alpha Five. While you previously
applications, you can now use it to create
full-featured applications that run in a browser, with an Alpha Five Web server
on the other end. The server,
connects to the databases and their tables, and can dish out Web pages
for accessing the data in the browsers.
Alpha Five is now on its tenth version,
which incorporates what is
probably the single most important feature yet: Codeless AJAX. Using
various wizards and property editors in Alpha Five, you can quickly and
easily put together a complete AJAX-powered
application using no programming
Creating a grid is easy: you specify the data connection, which can be Alpha Five's built-in DBF databases or any other database using additional drivers, such as SQL Server and MySQL) Then you choose what fields you want to appear in the grid, how many rows the grid should display and you let it roll. Those are the basic steps-there are dozens of additional properties available for further customization-which are enough to create a grid that can appear on a Web page. It really is that easy.
When I started trying out Alpha Five v10, I was a little skeptical because of the focus on the grid. I come from an ASP.NET world, where I'm used to seeing a huge toolbox filled with rich-text controls, and I doubted that you could really use Alpha Five to make more than just basic grid-based data applications.
But, as it turns out, the grid control is
really much more than just a grid. You can configure each record to appear in a
form layout, and from there you can customize the look of the individual
fields. What's more, you can
choose to display only single records or multiple records-and even columns of records-giving
power very similar to the
repeater controls that ASP.NET programmers love.
The grid has dozens of properties that include styles for the overall grid as well for the individual fields. These fields can show images or text or rich HTML text. The grids can be read-only or updatable; with updatable grids, the end user can type into the grid and even open a full-featured WYSIWYG HTML editor for entering rich text right from within the browser. And you can also create multiple grids and tie them together.
Building a Website
Building a Website
In addition, there are other controls, including navigation controls, to help you build a Website consisting of multiple pages, and dialogs that encompass Web forms for data entry. In a matter of minutes, you can have a full-featured Web application running using no programming at all.
From a software-design standpoint, the process is simple: After designing your database and its tables, you create your Web components individually-such as your grids and your navigation controls-and save them separately. Each component can be tested and previewed in an internal browser that is based on Internet Explorer. (But the final product can run on any of the major browsers, including Firefox and Chrome.)
Next, you create the Web pages, adding your controls to them. Once that's done, you publish your application, which copies everything (the pages, controls, and database files) to the Web server's root directory using a publishing system that works really well and is easily configurable.
Of course, if you're a programmer and you're willing to roll up your sleeves, you can do even more. With those server-side directives, you can put in your own XBasic code, which works very much like programming ASP.NET and PHP. For example, you can use the good old BASIC "print" statement that consists of just a question mark.
When you print something (such as a string or a variable), the output of the print statement goes right into the final HTML that gets sent down to the browser-just like the echo statement in PHP or the Response.Write statement in ASP.NET. In fact, if you don't want to use the components, you're free to create entire Web pages using all your own custom server-side code.