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Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

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  • Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

    Hi All,

    Iím currently doing some pre-evaluation research on Alpha and having a good read through of the various docs on the forums/vids etc. So far I am well impressed.

    I will be deploying web-based application to customers on their site or via hosted option.


    I have a few key questions on some general areas that are key:

    Deploying Web Application Upgrades

    How easy is it to deploy changes to a customer web app on their site? E.g. I wold a v1.0 of the app and then make changes and need to deploy v1.1 to their web app on their own site? Iíd remote onto their server and then need to update various files and folders maybe.

    Is it a simple copy of key files and folders to the web-root folders? What about database changes?

    What about a general application upgrade or patches to the WAS software that is deployed on a customer site?

    User defined reports.

    Its critical that users have the ability to create and their own reports using the reporting tool.

    Is it easy for them to use? They donít need to be sql gurus!

    For a web application, when a user creates their own reports is the reporting tool accessed through the web or through a client install?

    Is it possible to specify predefined views that they can use?

    Can any developer defined / system reports be locked down so that they cannot edit or break them?
    I read something on the runtime setup that might work here but seemed a bit complex.


    Data Import
    Customers will have their own databases, excel system and will want to import as much data as they can from their legacy system.

    Does A5 have some good tools to enable data and realted data to be imported? E.g A customer table and linked to an orders table, so that their links can be retained and related data is not lost.


    Value for Money / subscriptions
    The current subscription offer seems reasonable,

    IS it a good offer?

    IS this discounted in future years? E.g. 100% yr1, and then 50% all future years.

    If you donít renew the subscription does the app expire so that you cannot use it or do you just lose the updates?!

    your response would be most appreciated

    cheers

  • #2
    Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

    You're asking a lot of questions. Good complete answers could take a long time to write and I'm with everyone else here who is just another volunteer user: limited time. So, forgive the short answers:

    Originally posted by Taff_09 View Post
    Hi All,

    Iím currently doing some pre-evaluation research on Alpha and having a good read through of the various docs on the forums/vids etc. So far I am well impressed.

    I will be deploying web-based application to customers on their site or via hosted option.


    I have a few key questions on some general areas that are key:

    Deploying Web Application Upgrades

    How easy is it to deploy changes to a customer web app on their site? E.g. I wold a v1.0 of the app and then make changes and need to deploy v1.1 to their web app on their own site? Iíd remote onto their server and then need to update various files and folders maybe.

    You could just establish a Profile in your development system for each customer, and publish your changes using Alpha's internal FTP. This assumes you're not talking adding/changing tables and their structures -- that's a whole other discussion.

    Is it a simple copy of key files and folders to the web-root folders? What about database changes?

    For the design of your web components, pages etc. all quite simple -- just publish new/edited pieces. As noted above, adds and alters to the tables are more complex.

    What about a general application upgrade or patches to the WAS software that is deployed on a customer site?

    You'd need to get the patches to the server, then run the Install/Update routine -- these are .exe / self-extracting. A re-start of the A5 web server (not the whole machine -- just the program) is also necessary for the updates to take effect.

    User defined reports.

    Alpha doesn't have any built-in method for web users to define reports. You'd have to do a fair share of work to make this happen. A sometimes-satisfying alternative is to use the Export to Excel feature that you can just attach to a grid. Then the user can use the Search and Sort features right there on your grid, and export the current results to Excel for their use.

    Its critical that users have the ability to create and their own reports using the reporting tool.

    Is it easy for them to use? They donít need to be sql gurus!

    For a web application, when a user creates their own reports is the reporting tool accessed through the web or through a client install?

    Is it possible to specify predefined views that they can use?

    Yes, this is the usual way -- you provide pre-defined reports.

    Can any developer defined / system reports be locked down so that they cannot edit or break them?
    I read something on the runtime setup that might work here but seemed a bit complex.

    The A5 runtime model is for desktop use. That's where you probably saw the availability of the report designer. This is not a component of your web app.


    Data Import
    Customers will have their own databases, excel system and will want to import as much data as they can from their legacy system.

    Does A5 have some good tools to enable data and realted data to be imported? E.g A customer table and linked to an orders table, so that their links can be retained and related data is not lost.

    Yes.

    Value for Money / subscriptions
    The current subscription offer seems reasonable,

    IS it a good offer?
    This is subjective - you have to decide if it's a good fit for you. You'll find other discussion of it here using the Search feature of this board.

    IS this discounted in future years? E.g. 100% yr1, and then 50% all future years.
    I don't know, but I don't think so.

    If you donít renew the subscription does the app expire so that you cannot use it or do you just lose the updates?!
    Your A5 license does not expire - ever. And if you decide not to renew your subscription, then you just won't get the benefits. Kind of like subscribing to Sirius Radio -- when you stop paying, you stop getting.

    your response would be most appreciated

    cheers
    -Steve
    sigpic

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

      Exception: with sirius it is true. When you stop paying alpha, you still have and can use all that you have. You only lose anything that may come out in the future. You do not have to stop working. I used v7 (and still do on occassion) but have more fun with v10.5.
      Dave Mason
      [email protected]
      Skype is dave.mason46

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

        thanks guys for your comments

        few further points then

        what general method is used to deploy database changes made to a remote web app?


        as the report designed uses the desktop run time component, does this mean a customer needs to purchase the runtime as well as the WAS?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

          If a table may be in use while you alter it, a normal method is to schedule a "maintenance period" where you can shut the site down (or redirect users) then make the changes to the tables. This would usually involve something like remote desktop, and then whatever you need for restructure. Adding tables to a database would not require the shutdown because there is no chance anyone's using them until you implement a front end.

          Reports are designed by you, in the desktop development environment. They're contained in data dictionaries and database libraries, so you just push them up to the web. Runtime does not enter the picture.

          I presume you're aware you can download A5 for free, with a 30-day, fully-functioning free trial. If you haven't done that I'll recommend it.
          -Steve
          sigpic

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

            I agree you should download the trial version and check it out. Then spend about 5 days checking it out, along with all the free vids out there.

            Next, if you are still not sure, purchase the web apps total training course by Steve Workings. (Who made the above post.) It's $69, and gives you a great kick start to understanding the program. If after that you decide it isn't for you, then it was just $69, not $1,899.

            If you decide to go for the subscription, as I have, then they should refund the cost of the course. Although if you decide the subscription isn't for you, then the $69 was still a good investment. (Speaking of which I still need to respond to their email about a refund I am due.)

            Part of the reason I went for the subscription was because it included a lot of training. Javascript / jQuery, and Xbasic. As well as the basics of the program. (Plus anything else they put out for 1 year after the program comes out.)

            Oh and yes you will need both the developer program, and the Web App, which is $799 bundled right now for v10.5. (I just peeked at the home page/products to see this,) I don't know what price they will be releasing v11 for. Hopefully it will be out before the end of your trial period.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

              cheers Guys much appreciated!

              i will check out the trail but i just wanted to check on a few key points in case they were deal breakers without initially investing too much time upfront


              i'm still not quite clear on the changes to database tables bit though for customer deployments,

              if i built say a product that is used by 20 clients, and that app is pretty standard to all, if i add new database tables ,which changes the product, do i need to add these manually to each customer site or is there a script generated that can be easily be applied to the site to alter the database structures, the wiki didn;t really explain this apart from saying its more complex!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

                If you're adding the same table(s) to multiple databases, I'd probably just set up my Create table script/query, log in to each customer's database, paste and execute.

                If you're going to have that many implementations of the same thing though, you may want to seriously consider a single multi-tenant application where all customers use the same server, single-installation of your system. I understand if that doesn't fit what you and your customers want, but if you can make it happen you'll have far less to deal with.
                -Steve
                sigpic

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

                  thanks for your help Steve, mucha appreciated, although i was hoping for something a little slicker to simplify making the deployment and updating of customer apps

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

                    another quick query on deployment options

                    so , i build a web app and deploy that to a customer site, overtime i then need to add more tables and more fields to existing tables to add more functionality for the customer

                    from Steve' s previous post on the subject, do i then need to create my own sql scripts to alter the database? problem being is that i am not a sql dba whizz, far from it, so having to script the changes myself maybe beyond my skillset for some time

                    so do i just need to get up to speed with deploying changes via custom sql scripting?

                    does A5 have a method to deploy database changes?

                    it wont be possible to simply refresh/restore a db from the master version as it will overwrite all data!

                    any thoughts much appreciated as this deployment is key

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

                      It helps to know SQL, which isn't too complex to learn, which I am doing slowly. But still I use Navicat (specifically the one for MySQL) to build and manage my database. There is a free version that will do most of the basic functions, in fact I used the free one to build my original database. (Currently rebuilding.) http://www.navicat.com

                      This program does cost, if you want some of the management tools it has, but there is another GUI out there called Toad that is very similar to Naviact, and free to boot. http://www.toadworld.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

                        Simon, Steve is probably too modest to mention it, but if you are keen to get a quick start on Alpha and SQL I would highly recommend you get a copy of Steve's "Xbasic for the Web", this is a collection of hours of video on developing Web Apps and using SQL. It should be available for purchase on the Alpha site.

                        In my opinion its great for someone starting out, small cost but really would give you an appreciation of what Alpha Five can do - and how you can do it..

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

                          Originally posted by Taff_09 View Post
                          ...do i then need to create my own sql scripts to alter the database? problem being is that i am not a sql dba whizz, far from it, so having to script the changes myself maybe beyond my skillset for some time

                          so do i just need to get up to speed with deploying changes via custom sql scripting?
                          ...
                          To add to what the Mage said, a product like Navicat or Toad creates the script for you. It's basically automatic.
                          Peter
                          AlphaBase Solutions, LLC

                          [email protected]
                          https://www.alphabasesolutions.com


                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Newbie - Pre-Evaluation Questions

                            that looks like a good option, think red gate's sql compare is also along the same lines,

                            cheers folks!

                            Comment

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