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Make A4 Windows based

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  • Make A4 Windows based

    Dear Mr. Rabbins

    A number of years ago we had a dynamic discussion on this forum about switching from A4 to A5 (we all know you are pushing A5). You have to remember Mr Rabbins that a great number of us supported A4 all of these years. That simply means we supported and built your company. We spent many hours and learned the A4 system that you advertised was the best thing since sliced bread. We have to tell you, alot of us do not wish to spend (nor have the time to spend) on learning another database concept. We have businesses to run.

    I contacted your company years ago on an unrelated matter and ended up speaking to you personally by phone. I aired my concerns and asked you if it was possible to make a "Windows" product and have the same A4 structure (same names, field rules etc). In other words a seamless transfer from dos to windows. We discussed that this would solve a multitude of problems like using all windows printers; being able to fax from within the program; 1000 fields per database; fixing screen problems etc etc etc.

    Lets face it. For most of the businesses using A4, that's all we really need.

    ** You said that this COULD be done. **

    What would it take for your staff to make this happen? In my mind it would be worth it. Here we are years later and A4 users are still talking about screen problems... colour problems and the list goes on. These problems have not been addressed yet, and I hear there is another replacement for windows XP coming down the pipe. What then?

    Think of all of the A4 users out there switching over ... think of the years of upgrades.

    I (like most others have supported A4) since v2. To have to learn another concept at this point in our business lives does not make any sense.

    I invite other A4 users to comment. Maybe Alpha will respond and make this happen.

    Rick Sloan,

    P.S. I wrote this for another topic (Screen prolems) but felt this should be discussed on its own. Maybe Alpha will pay more attention this way.

  • #2
    RE: Windows based ** A4 **

    Mr Rabins.

    I received an E-mail with the correct spelling of your name (I had it spelled Rabbins). No insult was meant (you should hear what I get sometime). My message remains the same.

    I have to tell you though, I am somewhat disappointed that other A4 users have not commented on this issue.

    If enough members voiced their opinions something may be done.

    Thank you


    • #3
      RE: Make A4 Windows based


      Although I use Alpha 4, both versions 6.x and V7.x, and I could use the fax features of V8, I have become disappointed in Alpha's unwillingness or inability to produce a DOS based version that can be set up for full screen or predictable colors under Windows XP. Because I have an old computer that is too old and too slow to install anything beyond WIN98SE, it is my dedicated Alpha machine. Version 7 as well as a couple of other older DOS programs run fine under WIN98SE.

      I copied the program to my XP machine and have since removed it because despite trying nearly ever suggestion posted on this Board, I could not make it work properly. Although I purchased Alpha5 both versions 4.5 and 5, I really don't have the time to invest just to rewrite a couple of relatively simple applications to run under Alpha5.

      What I really would like Alpha to do is make the program run properly under the newer operating systems. I really don't want any more bells and whistles.

      Al Palmer


      • #4
        RE: Make A4 Windows based

        Thank For the comment Allen.

        I did that very same thing...have a dedicated computer for A4. I had to switch to XP, because I am tied to the office through the internet and, of course, I have the same problems that are mentioned on a daily basis on this forum.

        One thing I have noticed that is really alarming, HP seems to be phasing out the Dos (PCL) language from their printers. A year or so back, my office picked up a number of HP 1200 and 1220 series printers. They work great and are capable of using the PCL. Problem here? Some day these printers will wear out and have to be replaced.

        The replacement series for this printer is the "1300 series". It does not include the PCL language anymore. The change from the 1200 series and 1300 series was a little more than a year.

        We can keep using Win 98 (which I did for years) but you cannot stop the hardware problem.

        We have to get ALPHA upgrade A4 to at least allow us to print in the "typeset mode" using all windows printers.

        This may or may not be able to be done in a Dos based A4.

        The transfer to a windows based A4 would make it all possible, and should correct all of the other problems to boot.

        If alpha is not willing to write a windows based A4...then at least fix the windows printing problems in the typeset mode.

        My program is the core of my business. I spent many years writing and re-writing the thing until it fit what I needed. I simply cannot take the time to transfer it all to A5. There is a huge learning curve there (and yes I purchased A5v2 and A5v5 to try). It is not that I am not capable of doing it, its that it would take years to do it.

        Mr Rabins, could you at least advise us (A4 users) if it is possible to correct the printing problem (typeset mode)?

        If there is no way, I would appreciate knowing so my company can purchase and store enough HP printers for the future.

        I think a complete and candid answer is the least we can expect from you.

        Rick Sloan


        • #5
          RE: Make A4 Windows based


          Last year I had a brief exchange of e-mails with Selwyn when I asked the same question you are asking. I'm sure he won't mind me passing his response to you.

          His reply was that they had toyed around with working on an Alpha 4 version 9, which would be a true Win32S product and would therefore not need the DOS Extender. This would work fully with all Windows printers, even in Typeset Mode. But Selwyn simply wasn't sure it was worth their while to do it.
          I can understand his thinking - he has to weigh the development costs against the likely sales numbers.
          In addition, he has such a great product with Alpha 5 that it makes sense for him to devote his team to developing it further, rather than keep patching Alpha 4. In short, (my words, not Selwyn's), it all comes down to money and resources.

          But I for one could sure use A4v9!

          Maybe if enough users expressed real solid interest, Selwyn just might reconsider it?



          • #6
            RE: Make A4 Windows based

            Thanks for the info Paul

            I am sure he knows there alot of A4 users out there that would jump at the chance to switch over to a windows A4. In my mind he would have the best of both worlds.

            I for one, would pay for the ability to switch to a windows A4. I would pay more for this ability than what he is charging for A5 right now. Although it would be a balancing act, for me not having to rewrite a whole new program the extra cost would be worth it. Then, over time and many $upgrades $, we would all learn the windows jargon and take advantage of the full blown $ A5 $. My goodness, I bought into every upgrade there was from A4v2 up to and including A4v8. That's some "chunk a change" we're talking about considering there seemed to be more than one upgrade a year....and I'm not the only one.

            In my mind, this was the way A4 should have transformed into A5 in the first place. At that time, not only did he have all of the A4 users to transfer across, but all of the other "Small Busines" Dos based DBF programs would have jumped at the chance to transfer and sneak across painlessly to windows while keeping their same structure etc.

            I am sure there are alot of companies out there that are just like us. They are still using the DBF format because they don't have the time nor is it worth it monetarily (and time is money in business) to switch to windows and start from scratch. If they had the oportunity to take their DBF format, transfer it across and seamlessly make it windows they would jump at the chance. Then there would be potentially many many more long term Alpha windows users.

            Mr Rabins, I feel it would be a good business decision. However, if you are not going to upgrade A4 please let us know.

            I think it is only fair to the people who bought into your product and vision for all of these years.

            Rick Sloan


            • #7
              RE: Make A4 Windows based

              In my case, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard-place. I started with A4, learned it pretty well, developed the system for my business using it, and it's worked great for me since '96. I had more time back then to work on developing. I've recognized the need to get over to windows, because dos is dead, and have toyed with A5V3, V4, V4.5, and V5. To me, A5V3 and A5V4 were no real alternative to A4. However, A5V5+ is becoming very powerful and user friendly. I just don't have the time to devote to making the complete transition from A4 to A5 though.

              In my case, I already know A4 relatively well. So if Alpha were to release an A4V9 that was a true windows product, it would be a likely transition for me because of my limited available time (and knowledge) to get things going completely over to A5. I would guess there are others in this boat too. I would also hope that if an A4V9 were released that there would be improvements and additions to the product.

              One thing about A4 that I prefer over A5 are the forms and reports. We don't need them to look pretty. They're just used to pump data in and out. Nothing special needed. The mono spaced forms work fine for us and the lack of a million adjustments to each fields appearance works just as well for me.


              Wouldn't it be funny if Alpha had the TWO best windows databases on the market in A4 and A5?!?!

              Thank you,
              Mike Konoff


              • #8
                RE: Make A4 Windows based

                """Wouldn't it be funny if Alpha had the TWO best windows databases on the market in A4 and A5?!?!"""

                One thing I learned in business over the years: the best way to stay "Number One" is to be "Number Two" as well!



                • #9
                  RE: Make A4 Windows based

                  I agree to a certain point with the reports Mike. However, the reports I have, use calculated fields etc, and look almost if not as good as any type set mode letter when you add your company logo etc. It's certainly all I'll need.

                  I do use certain "standard" print reports for internal use and accounting use, but the "standard mode" print went out with the manual typewriter.

                  One of the improvements I could ask for is to increase the number of reports allowed per set. We could always use more of them.

                  If Mr. Rabins could make A4 a true 32 bit product so we could use all types of windows printers, I would be more than happy.

                  Its not just for we A4 users. Just off the top of my head, I personally know of 3 companies that use dos programs. They would jump at the chance of protecting their future with the programs they have. A4 could easily capture their dbf's. All they would have to do with my help, is change a couple of reports etc, and there you have it.

                  As I said earlier there are alot more companies still using dos than some people would think.

                  Rick Sloan


                  • #10
                    RE: Make A4 Windows based

                    I am in the same boat. My data is now around 100MGb and goes back to '92, but I didn't trust V7 so I continued with V6.2.

                    It would be surprising if Selwyn did anything more as when I tackled him about leaving A5V5 with bugs in, he just mentioned that V6 had eliminated them.

                    I recently bought a new PC with XP home on and had somebody take it off and ghost my old drive (W98) onto to the new drive. It works well enough with the only hiccup of my old WP4.2 not being able to list (mostimes) the files. However, I can see them on another computer on the network so upto now I am operating without much of a problem.

                    My only critiism of A4V6 has been the "pain in the arse" of creating reports to look nice, but I haven't had to do that for a long time so for now my only problem is fretting over how much it would take to revamp to A5V5, a copy of which which I have. However, I have been fretting over that since A5V3. Every time I try something I get stopped with a bug and then leave it for several months and it means starting over again.

                    Well, I feel better now but that doesn't help you.



                    • #11
                      RE: Make A4 Windows based

                      Thanks for the comment Steve

                      How about an answer Selwyn ?

                      Going to do more for A4 ???

                      Rick (on behalf of others using A4)


                      • #12
                        RE: Make A4 Windows based

                        I have read all the replys and I have to agree with everyone. I learned A4 in 1994 when I had to move a non-profit company I run from DC to Illinois. The Mac data base was impossible to use so I had to learn A4 from scratch and develop applications, forms, scripts, letters and reports. When A5 came out we purchased it right away, thinking that we would be able to convert from A4. Well as you all know no such luck. Before they came out with A4V7 we hired a A5 consultant to convert and move us to the windows based version. After he looked at our scripts, functions and conditional letters, plus what we needed the database to do, he said we were better off staying with A4V6. The problem we have now is we are running out of space (255 Characters)for conditional expressions in the field rule advanced DB area. Soon we will have too many variables to use the conditional statements that we rely on everyday.
                        So if Alpha Software will develop a A4V9 for Windows we will be on board as soon as it comes out. We also own both A4 and A5, I have tried to teach myself A5 but it is a different animal.
                        Stephen Wilde
                        PS: we have all WinXP Pro computers now and other then the screen colors, printing and once and awhile just plain will not sort or query correctly, we have survived the change. BUT WE NEED A NEW VERSION FOR WINDOWS!!


                        • #13
                          RE: Make A4 Windows based

                          I gotta tell you all.....

                          I've purchased every product Alpha has offered since Ver 2 [early 80's, I think] and have sold several of my apps out there.

                          I had A5 version 1 forever; tried many times to get it and each of its successors to perform like A4 and to no avail. I'd start writing in one; hit the wall and then put it back. The same with all of the subsequent Windows versions [ just bought V6]. You're all forgetting, as I did, that we had a learning curve with A4 and for me at least it was quite steep. Funny thing, I found that all the methods we used in A4 are available in A5 -TEN FOLD!

                          Remember the Alpha Forum monthly subscription was the ONLY help we could get during those A4 development years. Looking back, I longed for someone to talk to or get help from when I 'hit the wall' in A4.

                          I decided to learn A5 no matter what!

                          The frosting was that one of my DOS clients WANTED A WINDOWS VERSION and was willing to Pay ME 3000.00 to write it over. Several of you said that the application was written by you and for your use only. Let me asure you that your time and money spent learning and updating will come back 10 fold in added features you'll install, once you see how easy it is and how much HELP YOU CAN GET along the way.

                          So get those A5 apps out - try something - hit the wall - and then post a question on one of the forums. Many times I got an answer in minutes from this wonderful community of fellows with similar problems and histories. They've been 'in the curve' and could not be more helpful or unselfish if they tried.

                          Gone are all the screen size and color problems - all of the Printer problems - unexplained 'granular crashes' - sharing configuration - and the list goes on and on and on.

                          Just my 2 cents. DOS is an old horse - put him out to pasture.



                          • #14
                            RE: Make A4 Windows based

                            Thanks Ken But No Thanks

                            I purchased A5. It is not as easy as they say to switch over and learn. Lets call a spade a shovel.

                            I wish I could get back the money I spent on A5 (and I have purchased more than one version). We are not talking small change here. We are talking hundreds of dollars for each version.

                            It is obvious Ken, you have the time and motivational reason to learn the A5 program ... you sell programs and make money from them. That's great. It is your business to learn A5. If that was my business I would learn too.

                            I don't have the time, and it appears the rest of the writers don't either. Do you not even read what we are writing about?

                            We are trying to make a better situation for A4 users. We don't need this raw raw A5's great stuff. If you like A5 and had the time to learn it, great. Don't try and sell A5 to me ... it won't work. It was a waste of my money.

                            All we A4 users want, is to have the program Selwyn Rabins sold us for years print to a "windows" printer. Work with a full screen. Have screen colours that actually work, etc, etc, ... and oh did I mention print to a "windows" printer?

                            You're peeing up the wrong tree.

                            I am still waiting for an answer from Mr. Rabins.

                            Here's one for you...consider the money we A4 users have spent on A5 (a product we are not using and simply collecting dust) as a deposit on developing A4v9. That should cover some of the production costs.

                            Rick Sloan


                            • #15
                              RE: Make A4 Windows based


                              I understand what you are asking for. But given the lack of volume of replies that you have generated in the 2 weeks this thread has existed, you may be proving the point that A4 in windows isn't a good idea.

                              A4v7 and A4v8 do work in the win 32 environment, although with some issues that could work better, but have work arounds.

                              I think of the Unix users that need a print manager to get text only print out into the GUI world by using a different program like FORMSCAPE. And it's expensive. 4 to 6 digits for a license. But it works.

                              As an outsider, (I am certainly not in the decision making capability for Alpha), I would think you need to make a stronger business case for another product.

                              Change is part of this business. Minimal change is handy is some ways, but limiting in others. Talk to the Hewlett-Packard 3000 model mini computer users. The whole machine and operating system is defunct.
                              Al Buchholz
                              Bookwood Systems, LTD
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