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Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspective

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  • Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspective

    Small Business Users Perspective, Performance vs. Price

    Why did I buy Alpha 4 ver.5 ?

    I had an sub application which was programmed by the supplier of our accounting package. No, it didn’t do quite what we needed and further revisions would be expensive. Alpha 4 ver. 5 allowed us to design “exactly” what was required without a SINGLE line of programming. Admittedly, it lacks polish and bullet proofness (my word), but damn it works the way I want it to.

    I have had the privilege of testing A5V5 and from little my pea brain has absorbed, it is a further quantum leap in non programming systems development. Is it worth the asking price of $ 349.00 ? Well, considering my billing rate, it doesn’t even equal a days billing. Also considering what can be accomplished in one days effort using Alpha 4.5 or 5 vs. conventional programming $ 349.00 is cheap at twice the price. (Selwyn & Richard, don’t get any ideas).

    True, at the moment Alpha lacks a certain robustness and advanced features that other databases offer. But in truth, could I utilize those features without the requisite genies to assist me. For that matter, do I want to spend the time & effort = MONEY to become proficient in their use. From all reports Alpha is working on client server, web based applications etc. One would expect the same ease of use for these applications when they are announced.

    A 10 user run time price of $899 is equates to 90.00 per station while a 20 user run time amounts to $ 55 per station. Sounds quite reasonable particularly when this cost may be further reduced if multiple clients are involved. My only monetary concern is what I perceive to be a missing pricing niche for the small business user who does NOT plan to distribute an application. I may be incorrect but I have always assumed that one of Alpha’s largest claims to fame was it fulfilled the niche I have described above. If the application is to run on 2 or 3 stations AT ONE location only the up charge is major. If I understand it correctly, 2 options exist.

    1. 3 pack at $849 = $283 / station or
    2. 1 Pack at $349 plus a 10 runtime pack at $899 = $1249
    = $625 for 2 stations or $ 416 for 3 stations.

    Please bear in mind I also have to pay in Canadian dollars, so multiply all above figures by 1.6.

    Perhaps Alpha could revisit this scenario by providing a 3 or 5 pack runtime plus 1 full version to reduce the cost for the small user who does not plan to distribute his application.

    Looking forward to V5.


  • #2
    RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv

    John -

    you and I are in the same situation. I have 4.5 and a 4.0 unlimited runtime to run my business on two computers. I got very excited at my abilities using Alpha Five, and fantasized about a second career. But frankly programming is a distraction from running my landscape business. All I want is to upgrade to version 5 and be able to run a small network (one other computrer). Assuming my business absolutely blossoms I MIGHT get to a three node network. But I make money with folks in the field, not on computers.

    I will upgrade to version 5 in time for sure. I expect I will opt for the three user pack when I do, but it won't be immediately.


    • #3
      RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv


      Like everyone else on the board I have been following all the threads involving pricing and reasons for selecting and using Alpha 5 over any other product.

      Here is by free comment.

      When I select a product for development it must meet the users needs now and in the future. The future for many does not approach nor exceed the capabilities of Alpha5 or many other products. Must applications are developed useing a small subset of the softwares capabilities.

      Once I understand the users needs, and complete the design, then and only then to I select the software to be used. If the client has software that must be used then it is used. Given a choice I do introduce Alpha 5. Develop, test, install and support the application. I have had only one client challenge my choice. When I explained the difference in development cost and the ease of use they accepted Alpha5.

      bob adler


      • #4
        RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv


        It tends to be the situation that half the knowledge of programming a database is in knowing the business. You can't pay a professional programmer to learn this, therefore there are a lot of small and single business users who are in businesses not well served by the major professional software developers. There isn't enough money in the business to hire them.

        For a small business developer/user the critical dimensions are speed of development, ease of use, and a good data dictionary. Speed of development is essential because the small business doesn't have a lot of time or money to throw at a software system. Ease of use is essential because any time spent learning the database is essentially stolen from the other productive hours available for the business. last, a good data dictionary or rich field rules are important in preventing data errors because the data entry is typically done by nonexpert users.

        Because the database is used to solve problems in organizing the business, it's labor requirement is all overhead unless the business actually sells computing services. This means that the computer database usually doesn't add value to the product, its more a way of avoiding certain problems. So there is a limited value to building most small business databases which is badly matched by the greater expense of more complex database systems. Big time programmers will never write custom software for small businesses and turn a profit unless its something highly regular like Quicken.

        Alpha is not as robust, and having that would be nice, but the place you really need robustness is where you have 100 employees working on a database where downtime costs are therefore $25,000 an hour. As a result of this requirement, all of the larger databases are carefully programmed to be reliable and solve their types of problems well. This conservative view makes good profits for their particular size of business but also limits the creativity of their programming practise.

        So now you kow more about why Alpha is the way it is from its market user targets. Alpha is still growing in speed and capacity as it matures and as CPU's and computers get faster.



        • #5
          RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv

          I beg to differ in regard to the robustness of Alpha software. While it is in no way an Oracle, Alpha software is more than capable of handling a very large network of users giving reasonable response time. We have over 250 users on our network, all have access to the Alpha Software Applications that we have written for the Agency. At any given time, there are over 150 active users. To support this very large and growing application, we have 3 full-time programmer-type people, not a staff of 10 or more. Because our IT staff is so small, we also handle hardware and other, non-Alpha software issues. Most of our time is spent developing new applications and enhancing the existing ones, not doing day-to-day systems maintenance that might be required by a more "robust" software package.

          Tom Henkel


          • #6
            RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv


            I would like to get a feel for how well Alpha five handles concurrency... especially writes.

            Did you design in custom record locking methods in your application?

            Hubert Lee


            • #7
              RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv

              For a single user like myself who is only programming for personal use the upgrade prices are extremely high.

              A quick search of my Quickbooks data shows 3 purchases of Alpha software over the years, $90 in Aug of 95 for the DOS version, $95 in Apr of 97 for the windows version, and $80 this time last year for Alpha 5 ver 4. For me to upgrade to A5 4.5 is $149, to A5 5.0 is $299 according to the info given me today.

              I can't justify that much of a jump, especially when users here have commented that 4.03 to 4.5 is not worth it.
              I can upgrade my Access 97 to 2002 for $100, skipping over the 2000 version.
              I don't use Access but lots of people do, when I tell people I use Alpha 5 they say "what's that?"
              I think Alpha needs to redo their pricing structure for single user versus multi user or runtime licenses to keep our loyalty.


              • #8
                RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv

                In our 1-computer home office, the upgrade from A5v4 (on Windows ME) has also proven too cost ineffective. All the new features I read about in the latest of sound tempting, but its like buying the whole program again for the first time. Just too much money for our small concern... That does not mean Alpha isn't the best thing going, just wishing we could realistically justify the cost of upgrading!


                • #9
                  RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv

                  I just purchased Alpha Five v4.5 last month. I tried both v4.5 and v5.0 trial versions and I really like both, but as an individual user/developer I could not justify spending $350 vs $150. I really would like to upgrade in the future to v5.0 (or v.6.0) but the upgrade price of $299 is just not enough of an incentive to upgrade as an individual. Maybe if the individual user upgrade was $150-200, more individual users would be able to justify the price.

                  Just my thoughts.......

                  [A long time user of MS Access(1.0 to 2002)]


                  • #10
                    RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv

                    Check out the link to a brand new "Home" edition of A5v5 on A5 overview page:

                    It may not be available on web store yet - but keep checking.


                    • #11
                      RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv

                      I believe I upgraded last year to a5v4.5 and was promised that the money I spent would be used toward a5v5 and am now led to believe a time element has been introduced that makes my claim not valid.

                      Is anyone aware of this?



                      • #12
                        RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv

                        Dear Super,

                        Check the Vers 5 forum. You'll find conflicting information when you search on rebate.

                        Better yet, call customer service and inquire.

                        BTW, I hope you'll consider re-registering with your real name sometime soon. It makes for a more congenial board, in my opinion.

                        -- tom


                        • #13
                          RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv


                          Thank you for making me aware of the home edition of version 5. I will check the information page for more insight about the home edition. Thanks again.



                          • #14
                            RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv

                            The Home Edition is now listed as being available for purchase on the Alpha Five version 5 Products page. I am recommending this version to many database users in local PC Users' Group in my area.


                            • #15
                              RE: Why Did I Buy Alpha, Small Business perspectiv

                              The pricing structure of Alpha could benefit from some reconstruction. Take a look at Adobe Acrobat. You buy the writer version and they giveaway the reader. The writer is kind of pricey. But I pay the price.

                              Translate this into A5V5. Give away (what!?) the runtime version. Sell the creation version (authoring) for a split difference (say $600-$800) and get rid of all the 'seat' versions that cause confusion since these are not seats but computers as well as trying to figure out what the heck you need.

                              Now, people can create applications and freely distribute them which would cause a tremendous demand for A5 Authoring ala Visual Basic, Adobe Acrobat, etc.

                              Round out the product line with a home version that won't create a runtime usable product and sell it real cheap--say $39.95 to develop a group of neophyte users.

                              Well, so anyway, that's what I'd do if I were Rabinses. On the otherhand I ain't exactly setting the world on fire.