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Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO

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  • Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO

    I spent a lot of time yesterday reading the forum since I am considering upgrading to Version 11 from my current version 9. There has been a lot of discussion about Desktop-vs-Web and some folks clearly think the Desktop is not getting enough attention. For what it's worth, here's my opinion on this subject.

    I am not a professional developer. I'm a business manager and I use software to help manage all the data we accumulate. But I'm a very small single store company with less than 10 employees. Larger companies with bigger budgets and bigger needs will make different decisions. But for me, Alpha Five has made it possible for me control my own data by making it easier for me to design my own database management systems. I have been on the lookout for over twenty years for a developed software solution that I can afford and fits my needs. I keep coming back to Alpha because I can control it and make what I want. My application is not as polished and lacks sophistication and some features. But I control it.

    For me it doesn't matter what the interface is (desktop, browser, ugly, pretty), only that I control the data. I am very happy that Alpha has been working more on the Web side since I see the need for a more distributed network that expands beyond my store and into our homes, cars and into the warehouse. I like the idea of getting at my data from anywhere. The desktop side of Alpha is a fantastic tool and I plan on continuing to use it. But I can't take it with me in my car and into a customer's home. I can access it from home and the warehouse using RDP or VNC since I control those networks. But if I'm on a public network I like the idea of web access, or mobile access, to the same data as I am using on the desktop at the store, in real time.

    I've dabbled with the WAS in versions 8 and 9 and now I've decided I'm going to do most of my further development using the Web tools. From what I've read, and watched on video, it seems I will be able to do a pretty decent job using the new version 11 (or maybe 12 - got some questions I'll post in another thread).

    This is the opinion of a non-developer. I don't make my living developing software. So I understand the disappointment from some here who are developers who don't see enough effort going into the desktop tools. But from my perspective, I'm excited about the possibilities for me to design my applications for web and mobile access in a similar fashion to how I did it on the desktop. Without Alpha Five I would have stayed with Access or would have purchased some pre-packaged solution that I didn't really want. And without the web tools available to me now in Alpha Five I would have no choice but to purchase a pre-packaged solution developed on a system foreign to me and beyond my control. But with the current tools available in Alpha Five I can design my own interface that can run on any browser and get at my data from anywhere. And I can do it all myself, without being a professional developer or programmer.

    Somewhere in the other threads it was mentioned that Alpha's roots were set into the SOHO section of business. For those of us in the SOHO section of the business world this has been a fantastic thing, giving us an alternative to Access or FileMaker and freeing us from proprietary database schemes under someone elses control. My worry has always been that Alpha would outgrow the SOHO sector and leave us behind to fend for ourselves. It seems that may be happening now and that Alpha is heading more into the mainstream corporate world. I wish them well - as a business man I understand the need to grow and change. But I hope we SOHO types can continue to hold on to the coat tails of the corporate developers to come and that we will not be shut out of this fine product. I hope that Alpha decides to support both the SOHO and the bigger corporate customers at the same time. The SOHO sector does not need as much so we could purchase a "sub-set" at a lower cost. But I know I cannot afford this subscription option and I would prefer to purchase licenses on an "a la carte" basis as I have always done. I guess the jury is still out on how this will all work out but I hope Alpha has the good sense to not abandon it's roots.

    Sean Kennedy
    Cracker Mill Hearth & Emporium
    Shokan, New York

  • #2
    Re: Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO

    What you are doing is how I started out. I do not think alpha wishes to change that.
    Dave Mason
    Skype is dave.mason46


    • #3
      Re: Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO


      i am in the same position as you are, i am not a pro but use alpha five to run my business.
      i was in version 9 and without knowing the segments are version specific i upgraded to version 10, but did not have the unlimited runtime. so finally i have upgraded to version 11 desktop developer, runtime and application server. did it under the special offer they advertised.
      i have no desire to subscribe, same boat as you are. probably will not upgrade any more.
      while version 11 is a definite improvement over version 9, for me, one advantage i see so far is the dialog2 component. lot of improvements in that area.
      additionally all the feature packs that people bought for extra money in version 10, now included in the price of version 11.
      so for me worked out better than i expected.
      thanks for reading


      version 11 3381 - 4096
      mysql backend
      1 914 924 5171


      • #4
        Re: Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO

        Hi Sean,

        What you are telling basically is, that you want your software developed in a way that suits your needs. That, of course, is understandable. Everybody wants that.
        Point is, not everybody needs the same, hence, wishes vary and options to meet that needs need to vary. What someone else wishes however need not be your concern.

        Web applications are a great way to go and I have personally developed and implemented numerous web applications from small to large, some hosted on own servers, some hosted in the cloud. Nothing wrong with web applications. BUT: nothing wrong with desktop applications either. It all depends on what you need and what you want to accomplish.
        Your story tells, that you understand that perfectly and because of your changing needs want to change to the web.

        It is not quite clear (at least to me) what Alpha Software wants to do with its pricing- and licensing scheme in the future. On the one hand you get e-mails that say:

        "As you know, the only way for you to get future versions, ongoing updates, new features and breakthrough capabilities from Alpha Software is through an Alpha Five Subscription."
        but on the other hand we have seen statements from Selwyn here on the board telling us "There will always be an a-la-carte option".

        So, there is uncertainty. Be it while Alpha does not know itself yet what it will do in the future, be it clutter in the communication department, I don't know.
        What I do know is, that uncertainty can be very negative towards business customer decisions. Personally, I would make things crystal clear as soon as possible.
        At the moment, it is not unfortunately.


        • #5
          Re: Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO

          It appears to me that many of the concerns about the "desktop" side is that Alpha has not improved the tools to make desktop applications look more polished and professional, more modern and current. Personally, I am satisfied with I can do with the desktop and I think it looks fine. Then again, I am not selling my apps.

          Seems to me the web tools are more suited to making an application "look" better and more modern. But I have only dabbled so far in versions 8 and 9 and am not sure if I am right about that in version 11. So, maybe it's more a matter of having to learn a new way of doing things that upset some more than others. I know I wasn't thrilled at the idea of having to learn how to make a web-enabled application when I still hadn't finished my desktop version. But I decided I have to learn something, it might as well be the web side. And back in version 7 and 8 it didn't seem to give me a clear advantage but things seem to be different in versions 10 and 11. If I am correct, now with version 11 I can design applications very much like I learned to do with the desktop side, similar to an action script approach. I know the terminology is different and the tools are different but my point is that I can design a simple browser based application without having to learn to write a lot of code. And I can continue to use the DBF files I already have to get started.

          Am I right about this or is version 11 no different than version 9 when in the hands of a non-programmer?



          • #6
            Re: Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO

            With all due respect, there are a lot of a bit biased assumptions in your last post that I can not support.

            It appears to me that many of the concerns about the "desktop" side is that Alpha has not improved the tools to make desktop applications look more polished and professional, more modern and current.
            Seems to me the web tools are more suited to making an application "look" better and more modern.
            That is not the case. How an application LOOKS is related more to the creativity of the developer then in the tooling. Desktop applications offer far more UI objects then any web application currently can, due to the limitations of HTML. You can do almost anything on a desktop.
            So I think you are wrong there.

            Desktop applications and Web applications are simply different animals! Where the desktop is your working horse, the webapp is your bird, free in the sky moving where it want, just to use an analogy. You can not organize a race between a horse and a bird and draw conclusions from it. They both have strengths and weaknesses of their own.
            Sometimes the strength of the one is the weakness of the other. Let me give you an example there:

            One of the advantages of a web application is, that you can go low on resources. Just a thin client running a browser with an internet connection will do! How great?
            On the other hand, one of the advantages of a desktop application is, that it can harness the true power of a well equipped computer to your benefits.
            You see?

            If you run a Zoo, you can't feed the lions with the food that is meant for the zebra's. They won't like it. To each their own food.


            • #7
              Re: Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO

              I defer to your expertise, after all you know more about the subject than I ever will. And of course my opinions are biased, but I also did not intend to share emperical data on this subject. Heck, I don't even know what I'm talking about! Ha Ha. I was only sharing what I thought I was reading in several threads.

              Quite honestly, I do not know why there is discontent about the direction Alpha is taking with respect to the desktop. I also am not sure why a developer has to do either one or the other. Why not both? I see the advantages of both, as you point out. I am less familiar with the disadvantages and why I should use one tool or the other in various circumstances. Perhaps these questions are more important as the application becomes more complex. For my business I don't see why my current application, which is primarily customer and product data, won't be just as good on the browser as on the desktop. All I know is that I find it harder to turn the desktop stuff into remote "real-time" data.



              • #8
                Re: Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO

                By the way, how do you do that animated icon stuff? Is that in the forum message editor somewhere?


                • #9
                  Re: Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO

                  Find a gif animator program on google?? I believe.

                  You can set up your own server in your shop that runs 24/7 and put your was and data there. It can be accessed from anywhere with a good internet connection. The cost is what it costs to run the server. You can access it by simply entering the ip address of your server on the web(supplied by your internet provider). The alternative is an outside hosting company that can handle alpha like Zebrahost. That is very much more expensive.

                  Yes, you can use the dbf files you have. I suggest the be in another folder in your server outside the webroot. You may also want to encrypt the tables that are sensitive.

                  You can also have a desktop on a lan operation going on at the same time.

                  As Marcel stated(kinda), A form on a desktop can be made to look exactly like a web page. I actually make all my help files in html and put a button on the page that says HELP. No confusion, no hassle. I use a copy of ie that goes with the app, so never a conflict.
                  Dave Mason
                  Skype is dave.mason46


                  • #10
                    Re: Opinion - Want Web and Mobile Developed but Concern for SOHO

                    Dave, that has been my experience. I have the WAS installed on my desktop computer in my office,the same box I have the Developer program installed on and the same computer I have my data files on. I have this machine shared and have terminals throughout the store all using the Runtime at the same time I have the WAS allowing me to access the same data either from inside or outside the LAN. What I don't have yet is my main entry and reporting being done through a browser based app. I still do all entry and report printing through the desktop work stations using the Runtime. My plan is to re-create all my data entry forms and browses is the "browser based" app and eventually stop using the Runtimes at all. For now, I am more comfortable in the desktop developing environment but I am slowly learning how to do things in the browser based development environment.