View Full Version : Ajax and Alpha Five PLATINUM


Richard Rabins
03-22-2008, 02:50 PM
What's on every developer's mind these days with regard to web or browser based development?

(taken from the Alpha Five Blog) - http://alphasoftware.blogspot.com/

One word: AJAX.

There's a fast growing community of Web developers and users who are very excited about AJAX. Most developers have a passing understanding of AJAX; some have no understanding at all. Maybe that's because they're too busy finishing today what they were wanted to finish yesterday.

But make no mistake about it: That thunderous sound you hear in the distance is the AJAX tidal wave, and it's headed your way. AJAX is one of the hottest trends in both application development and the user experience today. And as a vendor of application development software, we need to keep our finger on the pulse of what developers are interested in, and bring our value-add to the party.

What's the Alpha Five v9 PLATINUM value add? Traditionally, it's "making development faster and easier for developers." While AJAX apps provide faster, more interactive, and friendlier applications that simply look and feel better, they're also incredibly complicated to develop and debug. There's quite a learning curve. That's why AJAX is a perfect hairball for the Alpha team to unravel.

For developers, the rise of AJAX is similar to when Windows first appeared on the market. People had to hand code windows, menus, title bars, and all the other low-level interactions until the first frameworks emerged. Then building Windows applications started to get easier.

Frameworks such as Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) and other third party tools took off. Then came Visual Basic, arguably the first IDE that made it drag+drop easy to build Windows applications visually. The rest, as they say, is history. Everybody jumped on the visual development bandwagon.

The same thing is happening today on the Web with AJAX. Many developers are coding AJAX apps by hand. Some appdev platforms now have frameworks to simplify that. The problem is, you still have to marry yourself to someone's framework, and get your head around the framework's intricacies before you can boost your productivity.

At Alpha, our approach to AJAX is the same as it's been to everything else. How do we make this visual? How do we keep the "rapid" in RAD? How to we insulate developers from having to commingle and debug a half-dozen coding languages in a single app? How do we eliminate -- and if not eliminate, absolutely minimize -- the need for hand coding to take advantage of this next big thing called AJAX? HOW DO WE KEEP PRODUCTIVITY HIGH? HOW DO WE PUSH IT HIGHER?

That's been our approach in Alpha Five Platinum as well, and you'll see this in play with our new AJAX support. We are now producing a series of blog posts to take you through the new AJAX features and capabilities, including video demos of A5V9 in action, and how to code with it.

Normally this is where we would tell about what AJAX is and why it matters. But it's the Internet age, I'm not going reinvent the wheel. This wheel is already turning at Wikipedia, and the Mozilla Developer Center. Stay tuned for the series of AJAX posts. I promise it will be exciting. ;)

Videos and Samples:


Alpha Five now includes the 'Alpha Five Ajax Forms Library', a comprehensive Javascript library that dramatically eases the process of writing AJAX enabled web applications using Xbasic. Note: These videos all demonstrate pages that are included in the sample Web Application that ships with V9.

This first video demonstrates the basic principle behind AJAX programming techniques. It shows how a piece of data can be submitted to a the server and a response can then be sent to the browser to update part of the page. Watch video.

The second video demonstrates how AJAX techniques can be used to validate the data in a form. When the form's Submit button is pressed, data in the form is sent to the callback page and validated. Errors are written back to the page, and are displayed without a page reload. Watch video. http://www.alphasoftware.com/VideoNewV9/AJAX_FormValidation.swf

The third video demonstrates how AJAX techniques are used to implement cascading dropdown boxes. We show a form with a State, City and Customer dropdown box. When the user selects a state, the city dropdown box is dynamically repopulated, and when the user selects a city, the customer dropdown box is repopulated. When the user selects a customer, the customer information is displayed on the page, where it can be updated and saved. Watch video. http://www.alphasoftware.com/VideoNewV9/AJAX_CascadingDropDownDBF.swf

Next, we demonstrate how you can use AJAX to implement 'suggestion' lists as the user types into a textbox. We show how, as you type a name into a city field, AJAX callbacks can be used to present a list of cities that start with the characters you have typed. The video also shows filtered suggestions - where the suggestion list is filtered by the value in some other control you set on the page. Watch video. This video shows the same techniques, but this time using SQL Server as the data source for the suggestion list. Watch video. http://www.alphasoftware.com/VideoNewV9/AJAX_AutoSuggestSQL.swf

This video shows how you can implement a tree control that uses AJAX callbacks to dynamically populate the tree. The tree control is implemented using the powerful new 'tree control' object in the 'Alpha Five Ajax Forms Library'. The video shows a tree that is dynamically populated with a list of unique state names from a customer table. When the user expands a state node in the tree, a callback dynamically populates the tree with a list of cities in that state. When the user expands a city node, another callback dynamically populates the tree with a list of customers in that city. Finally, when the user clicks on a customer name, the record for that customer is shown. Watch video. http://www.alphasoftware.com/VideoNewV9/AJAX_TreeControl.swf

Finally we demonstrate a tutorial page that is intended to highlight the basic building blocks of an AJAX application. Several of the functions in the Alpha Five Ajax Form library are discussed. Watch video - part 1 http://www.alphasoftware.com/VideoNewV9/AJAX_Tutorial1.swf Watch video - part 2 http://www.alphasoftware.com/VideoNewV9/AJAX_Tutorial2.swf



03-22-2008, 03:28 PM
Richard---a link was forgotten for the "First Video".

I believe this is it

Richard Rabins
03-22-2008, 04:31 PM
Thanks very much Mike!