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umashank
10-13-2011, 08:12 PM
Not only am I new to Alpha Five, I'm new to this forum - so hopefully I'm posting in the correct place.

After approximately 5 hours in the vid turorials and playing around with Alpha Five V10.5 - I'm realizing what a monolithic garbage heap Access is (10 years spent in Access). But I have some general questions about Alpha.

1. In Access, it's pretty critical to set up your tables and relationships correctly and with careful planning. In Alpha, this seems less critical. I realize grouping data accurately is vital...but in general, is this an accurate assessment?
2. I'm embarking on a massive project in Alpha that may (if successful) span an entire industry. I'm concerned about building the tables in the native .dbf - does version 11 allow you to build the tables as SQL? OR - are .dbf tables sufficient for large projects (with memo fields)?

Appreciate any input you Alpha Fivers have to offer.

Peter.Greulich
10-14-2011, 01:09 AM
1. In Access, it's pretty critical to set up your tables and relationships correctly and with careful planning. In Alpha, this seems less critical. I realize grouping data accurately is vital...but in general, is this an accurate assessment?

Yes. I think you are right on target. Alpha is very flexible and very forgiving.


2. I'm embarking on a massive project in Alpha that may (if successful) span an entire industry.

Yow! I love that kind of talk.


I'm concerned about building the tables in the native .dbf - does version 11 allow you to build the tables as SQL? OR - are .dbf tables sufficient for large projects (with memo fields)?

This is a more complex question. Sure, you can use SQL. If you are doing web, definitely use SQL if you are starting out. Desktop generally requires active/passive link tables for SQL. OTOH, dbf is quite powerful given Alpha's vast array of dbf specific functions and methods. Memo fields (and indexes) are a dbf liability not limited to Alpha. Memo fields, if handled correctly, are not a liability. Indexes can be more problematic if you have heavy use.

Bottom line, if you can go web, go web - and go SQL. If desktop, try SQL w. active link tables. Remember, you CAN build a desktop (intranet/LAN) app using Alpha web components - which makes the switch to web later on, fairly painless.

umashank
10-14-2011, 10:09 AM
Extremely kind of you - very helpful. I can see this message board is going to be an essential resource. Don't wish to take advantage of your time, but your response brought up another question or two. You mention that indexes are a liability not limited to Alpha - but I thought (based on my Access background) that indexs are mandatory in creating cross-table data integrity...is there another way that I've never heard of?

My understanding thus far is this (and I do intend to make this beast web-based):
1. I can create a desktop app that links to a web-based back-end through active linked tables.
2. I can create the primary web-application based on either .dbf or SQL...SQL perferred, but I'll have to see how much V11 helps me with SQL (alternative is to hire a developer for this portion).
3. V11 will allow me to create native-like apps for iPad's and mobile devices (and they should somehow link to the web-based back end).

Am I way out in left field here? Or is this all .T.?

Thanks again for your time.

Mark

Peter.Greulich
10-14-2011, 11:42 AM
You mention that indexes are a liability not limited to Alpha - but I thought (based on my Access background) that indexs are mandatory in creating cross-table data integrity...is there another way that I've never heard of?

Indexes are part & parcel of dbf. Sometimes people report index corruption in dbs with manu simultaneous users.

1. I can create a desktop app that links to a web-based back-end through active linked tables.

That's true if you are using SQL. If dbf, then the web server & LAN server need to be the same machine.

2. I can create the primary web-application based on either .dbf or SQL...SQL perferred, but I'll have to see how much V11 helps me with SQL (alternative is to hire a developer for this portion).

If you have Access tables, you can use them as is - as a SQL construct - meaning using an AlphaDAO connection string.

3. V11 will allow me to create native-like apps for iPad's and mobile devices (and they should somehow link to the web-based back end).

I have yet to see any documentation on mobile app functionality - so I don't know.

umashank
10-14-2011, 09:15 PM
Thank you again Peter...slowly but surely I'm beginning to grasp. Received V11 today...not ready to delve into the mobile functionality...but it's there.

Mark

Ted Giles
10-16-2011, 01:05 PM
Mark, for what it's worth, you will have some "unlearning" to do when chaging from Access to Alpha.
What I've found is that there are so many ready made features and functions in Alpha that you might think that you are "cheating".
May I suggest that, before embarking on hard coding, you look to see if there is a feature which will do what - and indeed show you working code - without you having to write it.
I have likened Alpha to Duplo, while Access is more Lego.
The Forum is often a life saver - you will see some pretty nifty responses to developers in trouble.
And don't worry about asking "silly questions" - there is no such thing. (But often easiest to answer :wink:)

umashank
10-16-2011, 08:57 PM
Thank you Ted - you're right on target. I'm finding that my experience with Access is severely interfering with learning Alpha. I think I would have been better off to be completely new to database development. I've been completely bamboozled working with Sets versus relationships in Access...I'll eventually get my head straight, but definately been causing me some heartache.

Appreciate your encouragement.

Ted Giles
10-17-2011, 04:25 AM
Another thing youl will find fun to work with is the Set concept of variability.
Takes up no resources like the Logical Relationships you have to build in other dev tools, and you can turn them upside down for different purposes!
Sets are indeed a very powerful way of displaying data and the links are made when the Set is invoked.
If you need an example of anything, please ask on the Forum - someone will post one so you can see how they do it.

mheller
10-17-2011, 08:28 PM
Mark, if you are truly going to span an industry, I would use SQL as much as possible, for future scalability. I would skip DBFs completely, even Active-Link Tables

You can start by working with the Access databases that you've been using for 10 years. Later on you can use the Microsoft upsizing wizard to take them to SQL Server; all you'll have to change in your Alpha application is the connection string. Use a named connection string to keep that completely encapsulated, and to allow you to publish to different targets that use different databases.

kiwibruce
10-17-2011, 10:09 PM
Welcome fellow Recovering 'Access' user. there is a lot of unlearning to do and if you are doing Web apps then you have to make the double jump there is a LOT of new things to lean, not all just Alpha Five things but Web things. I am trying to port a complex App over from Access to Alpha Five and the road is long and hard and full of lots of potholes but most of them self-dug :)
Enjoy Alpha Five is awesome and a welcome change from Access. Not that I hate Access , in fact 80% of my time is still spent in Access but for moving to the web/mobile world Alpha is AWESOME!

umashank
10-17-2011, 11:33 PM
If I can get the foundation right (scalable and efficient), it very well could become the dominant tool in my industry. This is why I'm spending as much time as I can to make sure the foundation is laid correctly from the start. It's a relatively small industry - if all goes well, I could expect anywhere from 1,000 to potentially 3,000 users a couple years into it. I estimate a range of 2,500 to 3,500 new records per day.

Ok - so if I understand mheller correctly - I can just use a connection string to my existing Access tables and build the Alpha web application from there? Then, when all is well in the world, do the upsizing and change the connection string. What's the alternative to a "named connection string" (to make sure I'm understanding)? Do I use the relationships in Access tables - or create sets from the linked tables?

Kiwibruce - you're not kidding. If I could get 'Access' out of my head, I think I'd be doing a lot better with Alpha. As it is, I find myself overcomplicating things because I stubbornly try to impose steps required in Access. Do you find that you can (after all the potholes) create a front end in Alpha Web apps that looks as good as desktop forms or Access forms? I got pretty good at Access forms and had some nice and easy user interfaces. Haven't gotten far enought along in Alpha to know whether I can get there with the web apps.

Thanks again to all who have responded - this forum is a jewel.

umashank
10-17-2011, 11:38 PM
mheller - I just answered my own question (or the Alpha help file did) on named connection strings. I can clearly see that is critical when you're working with quite a few tables in a connection...thanks for calling that out.

kiwibruce
10-17-2011, 11:52 PM
Kiwibruce - you're not kidding. If I could get 'Access' out of my head, I think I'd be doing a lot better with Alpha. As it is, I find myself over complicating things because I stubbornly try to impose steps required in Access. Do you find that you can (after all the potholes) create a front end in Alpha Web apps that looks as good as desktop forms or Access forms? I got pretty good at Access forms and had some nice and easy user interfaces. Haven't gotten far enough along in Alpha to know whether I can get there with the web apps.

Thanks again to all who have responded - this forum is a jewel.

So far my answer is ... no but that is because I have not invested enough time in learning CSS and working with the A5W page layout side of things.
That is what I mean by the double jump you have to do. Alpha Five does an awesome job of shielding you from all the AJAX stuff and a lot of the web stuff but if I had one complaint it would be that I would like to see more out of the box interface / styles built in. Hard to explain. I think I know what you mean, after some 15 years of building Access Apps I can now build very professional and elegant interfaces. I think the new Dialog in V11 will help things along but I have found that the path from Access to A5 is a case of 'swings and roundabouts' there are many things I miss from Access but then they are on the whole outweighed by the power and ease of use of Alpha Five.
Bruce

umashank
10-18-2011, 02:07 AM
Does anyone here happen to know if charts (pie, line graphs) can be put on web components? I'm using V11 if that makes any difference. I don't need to know the "how," just if it's doable. I've got a long way to go before I get to the graph parts.
Thanks in advance.

kiwibruce
10-18-2011, 03:45 AM
Does anyone here happen to know if charts (pie, line graphs) can be put on web components? I'm using V11 if that makes any difference. I don't need to know the "how," just if it's doable. I've got a long way to go before I get to the graph parts.
Thanks in advance.
Look at Alternate views in the Grid, one option is Charts I think

kiwibruce
10-18-2011, 03:51 AM
Here, this in in Grid properties,
Now I have not used it yet but this is where you go. I think.
Unfortunately there are no videos on using the charts in the grid. it has been raised in another thread.
29629

umashank
10-18-2011, 04:58 PM
This is perfect...played with it a little today (although jumping ahead in doing so)...looks pretty straight forward, that is - once I figure out how Alpha likes to run queries (it seems you can run/create queries all over the place...almost too many ways to do one thing in Alpha). Thanks again Bruce...

kiwibruce
10-18-2011, 05:27 PM
Yeah, I had a quick play with it last night also. It seems a little static for my liking as in the chart seems to be outputted as a BMP so there is no mouse-over hover effects etc and also no data labels or anything. I think there will be more properties exposed at a later date and I read that you can do more in XDialog version of th carts. The thing about Alpha Five that I just LOVE!!! is they do updates pretty quickly... Unlike M$ Access. I have been waiting 10 years for Access to get better, more modern looking charting! hell MSCHART.OCX in Access hasn't changed since Access 95! Useless bastards! Alpha has implemented it in a matter of months along with everything else in V11!
I am a little disappointed with the charting so far but I can tell it was a more minor feature in V11 compared to mapping, Mobile, IIS, and Video gallery.
But I know I have some high expectations as I have a pretty serious charting app I built in Access (now using a 3rd party charting control) and I want to port this to Alpha Five but I can see I may have to do it in Fusion Charts (which Alpha works with pretty well) to get the interactive/drill down look and feel I am after.
But I will hold judgment for a while as they change things fast with Alpha Five.

kiwibruce
10-18-2011, 05:33 PM
once I figure out how Alpha likes to run queries (it seems you can run/create queries all over the place...almost too many ways to do one thing in Alpha). Thanks again Bruce...

That is the one place I really really struggle I miss Access' saved queries, To me querying in Access was better as you could build up query logic build one query... build another on it and get to a complex answer in easy steps. It seems you can sort-of do that in A5 Desktop... but not in the web side. So I am having to work out how to get to the answer in one shot. which in the end will mean more stored procedures in SQL Server etc.
But that is just my take on it I am really a newbie to A5 as well!

umashank
10-19-2011, 11:48 AM
I'm struggling with exactly the same thing in A5...if I understood how to build queries on multiple contingent tables - I would be a long way to having the backbone of our db underway...as it is, I'm still reading through tutorials and making random attempts to recreate my queries already built in Access. If you have any break throughs that help - let me know and I'll do the same.
Mark

Ted Giles
10-19-2011, 12:57 PM
Give us an example of a Query please Mark

umashank
10-19-2011, 07:07 PM
Ted - I know I should provide the code example, but it will be easier for me to describe in narrative...so here goes:
I have a table called "AnimalProfiles" and that table has a one-to-many relationship with another table called "AnimalSessions." Records are added to the sessions table every day and each record is related to a distinct 'animal' in the AnimalProfiles table. One of the workhorse forms in Access consists of a data entry form that allows the user to select an animal from AnimalProfiles, then record session data for that animal, and when refreshed, the recorded sessions are displayed in a datagrid on the right side of the form. In Access, the selection of the specific animal on the form makes the session data unique to that animal alone through the relationship I have set up between the tables. I have been unable thus far to get my head around how Alpha would produce this form and/or web component. Once I understand how to create these type relationships in Alpha, I'll be more than halfway home on the rest of my database - as this type of form (with correlated tables containing both data entry and data display) are abundant in my design.

Appreciate any pointers at all...I'm continuing to go through all the tutorials and have looked through the Alpha knowledge base - I'm sure I'll have an epiphany soon...but for now I'm still befuddled.

Mark

Ted Giles
10-20-2011, 05:51 AM
See attached for ideas.
Ignore the "Bom" (another app for Tree example) and look at the Animal Forms. DblClick on Sessions Browse in Al_Prof_and_Sess and see what happens.
In the Sessions Form, try using the small browse to go to records.
There is an example of the the two tables being used in different sets. 1:many and 1:1 when reversed.

This took all of 20 minutes.

umashank
10-20-2011, 07:35 PM
Ted - very much appreciated...this example is extremely helpful and I continue to be amazed by the "Alpha patriotism" and support on this forum. I'm going to dive into this tomorrow - spent most of today in out of office meetings when all I wanted to do was sit in front of Alpha (arrgh). So be it - I'll get back to you when I master this set up and let you know how I'm coming along. A humble thanks again...

Mark