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Thread: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

  1. #1
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    Default The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Well, as my profile indicates and some old geezers still around here might remember from past forum years, I am living in The Netherlands. And no, that is not the capital of Amsterdam.....

    I have heard developers say they are that busy that they have to turn down work. Well, over here in Europe, more specifically in The Netherlands and the European Mainland, there is absolutely no offer of programming work for Alpha developers whatever. None. There are only a handful of Alpha Five programmers living in the Netherlands, and hack, I know the most of them personally and even can say I trained and coached the best of them. Only to experience, that they in the end switched over to some .NET environment working with C# and NHibernate, Spring.NET and ASP.NET. Because that is what the business market in the end demands.
    Over here, the business market will turn away from you if you say you develop in Alpha Five. It is not the de facto market standard over here, stronger yet, nobody professional has ever heard about it. When you say: "Hey, did you ever think about designing it in Alpha Five?" they will say: "Alpha Five? What is that?".
    Well, lets start of with saying you don't need to turn ME around! I already know what Alpha's products are capable of, and already made the most fabulous things with it that were the oil in the machinery of institutions with 100+ users working with it. It can do anything any .NET product can do, but it does it simpler and way, way faster! Yeah, even if you throw NHibernate in the equation. But what I think is not the point. I am only one individual. What the market thinks is important. And the market over here rejects Alpha Five as a professional programming market. It is still considered to be a "B-line" Microsoft Access type of consumer-do-it-yourself-for-your-stamp-collection-kind-of-product. And that is not going to change anytime soon, since companies over here have invested big time in .NET solutions, and systems more and more need to be interconnected.

    I have met a few quite impressive developers over the years who worked with Alpha in The Netherlands. One of them for instance Marcel Kollenaar. He was a wizard of its own class working with connections to Word, RS232, etc etc. As far as I know, he stopped working with Alpha due to the fact business had no interest for it here. I have personally appointed the very talented Chris Dickey who you might remember from a presentation he gave once on an Alpha Conference in Boston. I got him that far to come over to The Netherlands, live here and work with me. He did great, but in the end also saw his future outside of Alpha. And there are more. One might remember Brendo Bongers from this forum. A very smart and gifted developer that I personally introduced to Alpha Five. His Alpha solutions in the end of his time with Alpha would blow almost anything in existence out of the water. But he also left Alpha for a future with .NET and I am sure he will soon outperform his colleagues there as well. Point is, whatever you do, you can't manage on your own. It is impossible for any individual to make a breakthrough for Alpha Five on Europe's mainland. It needs vast investments and efforts to get there, and you are not going to achieve that on your own. And since you can't (as I have experienced) and Alpha does not show any interest in investing over here as well.....

    As an Alpha programmer, that somewhat leaves you in the dark here, to say the least. You don't get any work which blocks any professional spread of the product in Europe.

    Furthermore, the last appointed distributor in the Netherlands has never been active, and has stopped doing anything about it for years ago already. I do not even know if they still do anything with Alpha or even still exist for that matter. There is no official representation from Alpha in Europe's mainland. Only in the UK as I understand, but I do not know how that works out.

    So there you are. No work here. As it seems, much work in the USA. So what do we do about it?

    Are there any Alpha developers residing on the European mainland that actually CAN live professionally from developing in Alpha Five? If yes, what's your story?
    If you are an American based developer, how is your market and professional portfolio? Do you get enough work in?

  2. #2
    Member Rida Alhasan's Avatar
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    Default Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    .
    Marcel,
    I live in Madrid, Spain and all you have said is
    (unfortunately) applicable here. My opinion:

    - Position Alpha Five as a RAD prototyping tool
    that will allow the .Net/Java/PHP/RubyonRails
    development team to see their application in
    "version 0.9" and make the appropriate changes
    and enhancements for the final version (which will
    be in .Net/Java/PHP/RubyonRails), at a fraction
    of the cost and time.

    - Position it as a tool that will allow a company to
    quickly have a working web application until the
    .Net/Java/PHP/RubyonRails is ready, since the UI
    UI front-end and the database back-end structure
    would be quite similar: just "unplug" Alpha Five and
    substitute it with the .Net/Java/PHP/RubyonRails
    Well, at least in theory. :-)

    - Target small-and-medium sized companies with a
    tight IT budget and who - pray, pray, pray - are not
    fussy about the development platform.


    All the above would allow the Alpha Five developer to
    get a foot in the door and, who knows, the client might
    just end up ditching .Net/Java/PHP/RubyonRails
    in favor of a "quick to develop, easy to maintain"
    platform (I'm an optimist by nature!).




    Regards,
    Felix
    .
    Last edited by Rida Alhasan; 11-26-2012 at 02:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Hi Felix !

    That is a quite creative and interesting idea you offer there. However, trying to look at it as objective as possible, I have some problems with it as well:

    1) There is no existing prototyping market with Alpha as its primary prototyping tool. As a matter of fact, it is not even known there so there is no ongoing market AT ALL. For instance, Jonathan Arnowitz (author of "Effective Prototyping Process for Software Creation") does not even mention it in his list of available tools. Hence, this would be a market you need to create from scratch, and this would probably put you in the same position as you would find yourself in as a database application developer using Alpha in Europe's mainland. Typically, software development departments would use UML tools to design software models or wireframing design or something similar, or things like patterns.

    2) Although I understand your motivation for this idea very well (get a foot between the door!) this does sort of place Alpha and your development capabilities in Alpha somewhere behind the backseat of the software development vehicle.... as if it were not good enough for the final product. My problem is with the message that this sets forward to the company who would require the prototype, and in my opinion it reduces the options for "getting your foot between the door" considerably instead of enhancing them and you are most likely to get "stuck" as a prototyping engineer. And as an Alpha developer, in the end, that is not where you want to be.

    3) Your idea shifts the role of the Alpha developer from a pure "database solution developer" to a more specific "model developer".

    4) Although you could produce "a proof of concept" for any database application with Alpha, more then a quarter of the software development time schedule (according to the research firm UBS) is passed with debugging and testing. This may even be increased if the prototyping is done in a different tool as the actual production of the product. It is for this reason that things like "virtual prototyping" (like with Synopsys Virtualizer) has become more important: you can actually develop before any hardware is available, and later on, use the virtual model for troubleshooting by which you catch 2 flies in one go. This however sets forth a seamless similarity of environment (full synchronization).

    5) I am not going to make myself popular with what I am about to say next, but since Alpha does not have any embedded design functionality nor specifically designed connections with designing tools, nor supports design teams in any special way, one could say that Alpha is often more or less used not as a "Rappid Application Development" tool, but more as an Extreme Programming (XP) environment where one just designs whilst coding: it stimulates "code and fix programming" which is not what most professional clients would require I guess. Although it seems like an extreme saving on budget as well, skipping all the design work upfront and just coding and fixing ahead, typically this will make bugs exponentially more expensive to fix as the project goes on and the application becomes larger.

    I do think however that you made a valid and interesting contribution to this debate, which is mainly about how we can make a good living out of our Alpha Five capabilities here in Europe.

    Do you actually tried this out? What is your involvement with Alpha in Madrid? Do you make a living out of it? Or?

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    Volunteer Moderator Steve Wood's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    ALL of my business comes out of Alpha Software agressively marketing their product.
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    Default The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    .
    Hi Marcel,
    Unfortunately (again), I agree with the issues you raise. Which brings us back to square one. My intuition tells me that the way to overcome these issues is by being aware of them and be prepared with answers when the client brings them up (explicitly or implicitly). What would a good salesman do?

    A good salesman would be pre-emptive and manage the "selling process" in such a way that the issues would not be raised in the client's mind. Instead the salesman would project an emotionally satisfying and solid feeling to the client. Which is what salemen do, right? Now, how do you go about it in a concrete, real-life situation? If I ever crack this "emotionally satisfying and solid feeling" thing, you'll be the first to get invited to my 200 meter yacht!!!

    Answering your question, I'm trying to eke out a living as a web developer and Alpha Five is my tool for data-intensive/data-driven web applications. Oh, yes, the selling part is uphill ("Alpha what?").



    Regards,
    Felix
    .
    Last edited by Rida Alhasan; 11-26-2012 at 02:53 PM.

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Can you eleborate a bit more Steve? What kind of business is that, would this be classifiable? Let's say orders from "small business", "medium business" or "large business" or in any other way categorized? What exactly is your business, web or desktop, or both?

    Do you mean that you "hike along" on Alpha's marketing successes? Or do you mean you yourself do some aggressive marketing? In what way?

    As far as the first thing is concerned, I can only see Alpha targeting their marketing campaigns at potential customers.... that is quite something else as the final customer that gives you (as a developer using Alpha) the order ? I can't see Alpha target any of your customers saying them to "go to Steve, he uses Alpha". So, how does this work for you?

    Here in Europe, I can't see Alpha doing any marketing at all I am afraid not to speak of any "aggressive" marketing. Hence, nobody here knows about it....

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    To be honest Felix, I too can not do anything else then concur with your observations as far as the commercial approach is concerned. You are right there. And that is another interesting point that you rise: you need not only be a good programmer, you also need to be a good salesman since the programming environment obviously does not sell itself, like .NET does here.

    Yet another qualification that hinders success. Not every programmer is an equally good salesman unfortunately. Lots of programmers have developed great applications but lack the ability to sell them, or do not have the funds to finance the marketing involved from which many problems arise.

    I can feel you might agree with a cautious conclusion that it could help if we (as Alpha developers) somehow could "work together" in some kind of European Alpha Initiative to re-balance the "uphill selling obstacle" a little bit ? My point being, that when 25 think about a problem, it is more likely a better solution may be found then if 25 need to do it all for themselves. That is, IF a solution to this with a positive outcome even is possible.

    I guess that struggling uphill alone won't improve the future in any way, whilst doing things together might help if only from looking at things from various perspectives and contributing to a "think tank". Somewhat like the IADN initiative, but more tailored to the specific needs and problems of the European market environment.

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Quote Originally Posted by mronck View Post
    To be honest Felix, I too can not do anything else then concur with your observations as far as the commercial approach is concerned. You are right there. And that is another interesting point that you rise: you need not only be a good programmer, you also need to be a good salesman since the programming environment obviously does not sell itself, like .NET does here.

    Yet another qualification that hinders success. Not every programmer is an equally good salesman unfortunately. Lots of programmers have developed great applications but lack the ability to sell them, or do not have the funds to finance the marketing involved from which many problems arise.

    I can feel you might agree with a cautious conclusion that it could help if we (as Alpha developers) somehow could "work together" in some kind of European Alpha Initiative to re-balance the "uphill selling obstacle" a little bit ? My point being, that when 25 think about a problem, it is more likely a better solution may be found then if 25 need to do it all for themselves. That is, IF a solution to this with a positive outcome even is possible.

    I guess that struggling uphill alone won't improve the future in any way, whilst doing things together might help if only from looking at things from various perspectives and contributing to a "think tank". Somewhat like the IADN initiative, but more tailored to the specific needs and problems of the European market environment.
    In 2009 there was a bunch of people ready to start (Sales, Marketing, translators, developers, trainers, hosting parties) even the use of a very own representative office with training room in Hilversum (Netherlands) controlled. Then from one day to another day entirely unexpected will follow other news "headquarters Burlington, USA" chooses London, very simple and short, "that is more important than the European mainland. I could send everyone back home and lost a lot of money and even more. Conclusion I do not believe it will ever come

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Marcel

    I know there are a number of developers enjoying success with Alpha. Steve may well be an example. Most times, when I am speaking with other developers and mention Alpha Five they have never heard of it.

    With the help of many on the forum I am nearly completed with my first 'real' application being built in A5. Still I fear when prospective customers see it they will think its been developed using what you called a Class B product and shy away from trying it.

    I would say that this a reason there have been so many threads recently about the future, being successful as a A5 developers and so on; some threads have been removed. Rightly or wrongly some of us are worried. I will say at the core, regardless of which side of the Atlantic, there are some in the current cadre of A5 developers feeling like those in Europe.

    My worry is not that Alpha 5 is a good product, it is, but few customers want to want to invest their money and in a sense their future on an unknown. Like you I wish I knew how to break down that wall.

    I do want to thank you for the thread and your remarks. I will follow this thread closely and hope others who are successful A5 developers will give us some insight on how to move forward using A5 as a development platform.

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Marcel,

    I can't speak as a developer who develops for a living, but as an experienced businessperson. I believe you and Felix are perhaps reaching the right conclusion in that your sales, marketing and presentation skills may be letting you down, more than the lack of general knowledge of the development platform. Perhaps large corporations, universities and governmental agencies have teams of IT professionals familiar with the other more "standard" development tools you mention and don't like going "outside the box" for fear of making a mistake, but I find it difficult to believe that's the case with smaller and mid-level companies. I would be surprised if even half the business-people in the latter category had even heard of .Net/Java/PHP/RubyonRails, or if so, what they meant. Many of these are the same companies struggling to have Access keep up! If among competing proposals for my business, someone proposed the same functionality, or perhaps better, at a lower overall cost (perhaps significantly), in a faster time-frame, using a back-end DB such as SQL Server, and showed me real-world examples with satisfied clients I would be very hard-pressed not to give them my business.

    Have you seen the video that Richard posted regarding Start Software and their solution for SportsJam? Now that guy has the ...
    "emotionally satisfying and solid feeling" thing,
    that Felix mentioned! Perhaps you can find a firm like Start Software (or perhaps them) with whom to partner to provide the sales and marketing skills and client base credibility that you may not yet have.

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    So why don't we all have an online Summit Meeting to discuss ideas on how Independent Developers can earn more/get more customers.

    I can sponsor the meeting(s) using GoToMeeting and we can include developers from all over the world. We can set the agenda here including goals and objectives.
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    @TPeterson:

    It is not really about my own personal experience or commercial skills (I think they will do): as I said, you simply can't force a breakthrough for a development environment as just one individual, unless maybe you are someone with the resources of Bill Gates I think it is a collective problem.
    I think the problem lies deeper: it depends a little bit from which angle you are looking at it.

    Are you an Alpha developer and want to work on any company's payroll?
    In that case you will need an employer who already uses Alpha and is looking for developers to work for him. In The Netherlands, there are none. And I mean literally: none.
    So that rather limits your options. There are several reasons for this. One of them being, that no entrepreneur will take in a development environment for which there are no developers available on the labour market. This sounds the other way around, but that is how it is: if you own a company, and purchase Alpha, you will not (or extremely difficult) find any skilled developers on the market who might come and work for you. The ones that are here you can count on one hand. So this is sort of a vicious circle.
    Alpha Software is unknown here, so if your company is a child of some holding, you will need your systems to be on the same platform. I have been working with a company that more or less had to change the development environment because of demands from holding companies and the market.
    Your customers will want to have a system they know about if you are a larger company. Business partners will scrutinize your platforms and back off if they find you working with DIY systems, as Alpha sometimes is seen here. It is sad, but that is reality over here.
    Bottom line for this situation is: you will not find adds from companies hiring Alpha Developers in the Netherlands any time soon. And if you do: let me know.

    You are an independent developer and produce software you sell.
    The more significant your software gets, the more trouble you will have. Customers may need to have something installed to secure their investments if you and your car (God forbid) hit a train tomorrow and die. They will not like to see their investments go down with you. Some kind of escrow arrangement would have to be in place.
    People will want to be sure, that if you get ill tomorrow, there still is a developer who can do their updates for you: some kind of arrangement with colleagues might come in handy. You need to convince why people would buy a product developed with something they do not know, and virtually nobody here knows: why would they? They could buy something build in .NET ?
    You might only be one developer. You need to design and develop the software. Next thing you know you also need to sell it, and after that, you may need to install it with your customer and might even be asked to be a software trainer because you need to train their employees in using it. Who has that much time on their hands, and how do you get this to pay off financially?
    Then there is the vendor lock-in. Your customer is not only buying YOUR product, but also the product of a company they do not know either: Alpha Software.
    Your application will vanish into thin air in a year or so when Alpha Software falls tomorrow. How do you sell that to your customer? And do you even WANT to sell that if you could?
    Reasons reasons. There are many, and many different, problems that may prevent companies here to purchase your products. People want to go with the defacto standard. And that still is .NET - C#. Unfortunately.


    To whatever group you belong, if you are just the one individual developer you will not stand a chance to change all of that anytime soon. In order to do that you would either need Alpha Software to invest in European marketing and promotion, or you will need to strongly cooperate with other European developers and try from there. As for now, I don't see any other solution really. And since Alpha is not going anywhere in Europe, I suppose it's up to the developers to try and shape their market.

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Wood View Post
    So why don't we all have an online Summit Meeting to discuss ideas on how Independent Developers can earn more/get more customers.

    I can sponsor the meeting(s) using GoToMeeting and we can include developers from all over the world. We can set the agenda here including goals and objectives.
    That is a great offer Steve. Constructive thinking. In order to make that work, we would however need sufficient developers to participate in this.

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    If I can participate I certainly will. I think it is a GREAT idea and I stand to learn a lot.

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Bill Gates had nothing when he started. He is/was a master salesperson first!!! He was also an excellent programmer.

    I am a master salesman!

    I do not derive most of my income from alpha, but have always made a few bucks doing it part time. I happen to be a salesman first and programmer as a second.

    Most of the people that are using my alpha products have no idea what it is. They may know it has to have .net, uses dbf/sql/etc, uses basic/xbasic, was originally written from c++, and a few other better sounding terms. Some DO know the word alpha.

    If you are making a web page with data, it comes out as css, html, .net(to some degree), some kind of sql, ajax, forms, maybe xhtml, basic/xbasic, etc.

    I would never use the words "Alpha 5", I would Use "Alpha Software" with a select audience.

    Why do you have to mention "B Grade" Alpha( I don't consider it B grade)?? Besides, almost all the other software's use some kind of server, so why muck up a good presentation with the name alpha. If you are asked what tools you use(I doubt you will), answer Alpha software to create the basics and then programming in html, basic, etc ti finalize the design. This does work and it does so very well.

    Think about it this way(I am a car person), I sell a buick cuv. Am I at an advantage to tell people that the transmission was made by Toyota or that the airbags came from Germany and made by xxx company?

    Sell the final product as it will be used by the company, their users and/or clients. Sell the cost and time to delivery. Sell the future with you and the product you are selling. Skim the details. I do not condone the company I sell to having alpha software on their computers(they will mess something up for sure). If they need the runtime, I include it in the sale with out saying anything. If doing a web site, I will have all the passwords and user names as will the owner or a representative of his(in case I die).

    Remember, You can develop a superior product for less money because it takes less time than most other methods. Believe me, cost matters and in that cost is service with future enhancements at a better price. Large Corporate down to mom & Pops work on bottom line. Make sure you know where you fit in bottom line.

    I can sell a Honda to any married couple, older person or parent with it's 5 year 60000 mile warranty over a 2000.00 less expensive Hyundai with a 10 year 100000 mile warranty with one question. If your child/wife or you have to go through a bad neighborhood at 11:30 at night and the car breaks, what good is the 100000 mile warranty??? Of course, I've already sold the quality of the product and the fact a Honda hardly ever breaks and there is a reason that Hyundai had to resort to their longer warranty.
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Are you an Alpha developer and want to work on any company's payroll?
    In that case you will need an employer who already uses Alpha and is looking for developers to work for him. In The Netherlands, there are none. And I mean literally: none.
    Then this route is totally off the table, for now.

    You are an independent developer and produce software you sell.
    The more significant your software gets, the more trouble you will have. Customers may need to have something installed to secure their investments if you and your car (God forbid) hit a train tomorrow and die. They will not like to see their investments go down with you. Some kind of escrow arrangement would have to be in place.
    People will want to be sure, that if you get ill tomorrow, there still is a developer who can do their updates for you: some kind of arrangement with colleagues might come in handy.
    Then you need an arrangement/partnership with a larger Alpha shop to satisfy clients that support goes on...even if you don't!

    You need to convince why people would buy a product developed with something they do not know, and virtually nobody here knows: why would they?
    Do you mean other than having their project finished faster, less expensively, with as much or more functionality?

    You might only be one developer. You need to design and develop the software. Next thing you know you also need to sell it, and after that, you may need to install it with your customer and might even be asked to be a software trainer because you need to train their employees in using it. Who has that much time on their hands, and how do you get this to pay off financially?
    I think you've just described the business you voluntarily chose to pursue. But, seriously, aren't these all items you would charge for...to make it pay off financially?

    Then there is the vendor lock-in. Your customer is not only buying YOUR product, but also the product of a company they do not know either: Alpha Software.
    Your application will vanish into thin air in a year or so when Alpha Software falls tomorrow.
    You are quite the Devil's Advocate! Perhaps that fact that Alpha has been around for quite some time already is a good selling point, and that they just (within the last year or so) attracted additional capital. Have you ever tried arranging a call between a potential client and an Alpha exec to help allay some of those concerns?

    Also, it's not like an Alpha solution doesn't use any "industry standard" components...SQL, Javascript, HTML...is it only Xbasic that really makes it different? My point being, that perhaps the similarities of Alpha to the competition, rather than it's differences can be explained.

    How do you sell that to your customer? And do you even WANT to sell that if you could?
    I think now you've lapsed into despair, and wished you had gone into carpet sales, or something. I think it's cocktail time now in the Netherlands, so why don't you hoist a cold one and cheer up a bit?!

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    The one Biggest difference between sales and programming is "Showing" enthusiasm and "assuming" the sale, where programming is an after the fact like when you solve very large problem to the app.

    To me, making a sale is like solving a major math problem in xbasic, or winning a nascar race, or going on a date with the most beautiful girl in high school.
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Hello Marcel,

    We are a small company (2 guys) with 1 (rather big) vertical application for a few related niche markets. For over 15 years.... and never been in .net or likewise.
    Yes together we manage everyting for our customers (mostly companies 5-10 employees, some bigger, some smaller). And we like to do that.
    In our business service, product quality and versatility, price competiveness compared to the big guys are the selling points. Main uphill battle is being a small company, not the development platform. Being so long time in business dedicated to this product helps us out here :-).

    So we are very glad that we choosed Alpha as our new development platform to port our paradox for windows (!) application to the web 2 years ago. Speed of development is a big plus for developers like us. And being able (in the near future) to offer prospects an almost riskfree trial period online will certainly make selling more easy to us.

    Nevertheless, additional publicity for Alpha as an alternative devellopmentool won't harm us :-).
    Now we sell it as our 'secret weapon form America' if the question is raised, and I think that is true. So count me in if i can play a role in that. But guess: my time is limited...
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  19. #19
    Volunteer Moderator Steve Wood's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    I will arrange for at least two online GoToMeeting "Developer Summit" events (free), one for the Westen hemisphere and one for the Eastern.

    Let's see if we can list some specific Goals and Objectives here. To keep from wandering, the goals and objectives should be under a pretty narrow topic like "How to earn a living as a Developer using Alpha Five."

    I will create a simple signup form in a couple days after we have a good set of goals and objectives.
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Hi Steve,

    Sorry I did not acknowledge your earlier post.

    Thank you for devoting your time and efforts to help others. If I may join in?? I may be of help to some and would be happy to share a few salesmanship techniques and other answers to also help. It is a fact, it always helps to help others and I can learn more in the process.

    I have never used "Go to meeting" software, but will get some familiarity with it in the next couple days.
    Dave Mason
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    The one Biggest difference between sales and programming is "Showing" enthusiasm and "assuming" the sale, where programming is an after the fact like when you solve very large problem to the app.

    To me, making a sale is like solving a major math problem in xbasic, or winning a nascar race, or going on a date with the most beautiful girl in high school.
    I guess Dave, it's all about the market you are in. Showing enthusiasm does not pay the bill in all markets. It ain't always that simple.

    In the market were I was in, we were successfully working with Alpha Five for a good decade, when at some point we got shot from below and above: one of the new major shareholders (a large multinational financial institution) ordered us to go "market-standard" and some large customers (chains of financial stores) would only enter into business with us if our software became "market standard". I will not bother you with all the detailed reasons that support those visions. Such things are a fact of life. You either comply or get stuck with the ugly consequences.

    You simply can't sell everything with a smile and some enthusiasm using smart phrases and playing with facts. That might work with the family that is afraid to get stuck with a car in a bad neighborhood, but it doesn't if you get to deal with certified financial institutions who tend to work with multinational concepts.

    Why do you have to mention "B Grade" Alpha( I don't consider it B grade)??
    Because that is how it is seen in those circles. Make no mistake: I have fought against such simplified opinions about Alpha for many years! It is not my personal opinion. As you could have read I personally think quite otherwise. Why would I otherwise bother with this thread? But nobody has ever made any progress by sticking his head in the sand, and I guess it is needed to face reality sometimes, whether we like it or not, before reality bites us in the rear.

    Of course, when you create a software product and sell it off-shelve for a hundred bucks or so, your customers aren't bothered by in what environment or language you created your product. They are only interested in whether it works for them or not in terms of features and price. But "the market" is a huge place with many faces. What works for one niche in the market does not work for another. My part of the market was a highly specialized business where seamless integration of software applications was not an exception but a demand. When I first started there I wondered how Alpha could have ever been chosen, but the owner started small and grew exponentially. And it is a compliment for Alpha that it seemed to be able to simply grow along with the company until hundreds of people worked with it to the value of billions of dollars. The story has for some years ago been written by Alpha and is somewhere on their servers. If you are interested I have no doubt you can find it.

    I suppose Dave when you look at the vacancies for software developers this says it all. If Alpha is so well integrated in the business society, why then is it, that actually NOBODY is offering Alpha developers over here any jobs?? You tell me. Or are our cars simply better then yours?

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Wood View Post
    I will arrange for at least two online GoToMeeting "Developer Summit" events (free), one for the Westen hemisphere and one for the Eastern.

    Let's see if we can list some specific Goals and Objectives here. To keep from wandering, the goals and objectives should be under a pretty narrow topic like "How to earn a living as a Developer using Alpha Five."

    I will create a simple signup form in a couple days after we have a good set of goals and objectives.
    That sounds great Steve. I think indeed we should streamline this so we don't drift away from target.

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Quote Originally Posted by cptutrecht View Post
    Hello Marcel,

    We are a small company (2 guys) with 1 (rather big) vertical application for a few related niche markets. For over 15 years.... and never been in .net or likewise.
    Yes together we manage everyting for our customers (mostly companies 5-10 employees, some bigger, some smaller). And we like to do that.
    In our business service, product quality and versatility, price competiveness compared to the big guys are the selling points. Main uphill battle is being a small company, not the development platform. Being so long time in business dedicated to this product helps us out here :-).

    So we are very glad that we choosed Alpha as our new development platform to port our paradox for windows (!) application to the web 2 years ago. Speed of development is a big plus for developers like us. And being able (in the near future) to offer prospects an almost riskfree trial period online will certainly make selling more easy to us.

    Nevertheless, additional publicity for Alpha as an alternative devellopmentool won't harm us :-).
    Now we sell it as our 'secret weapon form America' if the question is raised, and I think that is true. So count me in if i can play a role in that. But guess: my time is limited...
    Hey Ger, nice to hear from you. Did I maybe meet you during the Alpha Conference in Putten several years ago? Back then hosted by Basys Software? Could be, if you are around in Alpha for 15 years already. It is always great to hear from others in our country working with Alpha!

    But if you do, you will certainly also know you are only one of few..... it would be very interesting to know why YOU think that is the case? I can understand why you would use Alpha, the question is more: why do others not, and what can we do to improve the image of our environment ?

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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Hi TPeterson, you made some very interesting points. Please allow me to answer only a few of them, otherwise this will become a book

    Quote Originally Posted by TPeterson View Post
    Do you mean other than having their project finished faster, less expensively, with as much or more functionality?
    I know. You are right. But unfortunately that is not all that matters. Let's assume you have your app built in Alpha, and have 4 full time developers on it in-house, on your payroll. Suppose you need to implement a new software line in it because your business comes with a new product. But they want it TOMORROW. You have calculated and thought about it in any way you can, but you simple can't do it with the 4 guys you have.... you need to hire one (or more) external hands..... Where to find them here??
    You won't be able to! On the other hand, would you have build it in a market standard environment (which name we will not overexpose for now) you would simply pick up the phone and order 5 seasoned developers to begin tomorrow.... And please don't take it like this is the only problem you could encounter. It is just an example.
    As said, I could write a book on it. In a professional environment, "fast and cheap" are not holy anymore. Quality matters, not only of the product but also of what is connected to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by TPeterson View Post
    You are quite the Devil's Advocate! Perhaps that fact that Alpha has been around for quite some time already is a good selling point, and that they just (within the last year or so) attracted additional capital. Have you ever tried arranging a call between a potential client and an Alpha exec to help allay some of those concerns?
    You are quite correct with your assumption I was playing Devils Advocate! I hope everybody understands that as well as you.
    In the cases where this played a role, people are not even INTERESTED in learning about Alpha. They simply point to the market-standard and say: STOP PLAYING AROUND, GO THERE! Hack, I have even had head-to-head shootouts with .NET developers to let them bite the dust in terms of development speed!! And it really took no time at all.....

    It really is not about me. I am a long proven Alpha fan. It is just that damned image that we do not seem to get rid of. Nobody simply chooses the environment to work with generally spoken. If you do, they look at you with a somewhat pity look, and call it "childsplay" behind your back.

    You can't fight a ghost and as long as Alpha Software does not make a marketing stand here in Europe, that is exactly what the product is here: A GHOST.

    Quote Originally Posted by TPeterson View Post
    Also, it's not like an Alpha solution doesn't use any "industry standard" components...SQL, Javascript, HTML...is it only Xbasic that really makes it different? My point being, that perhaps the similarities of Alpha to the competition, rather than it's differences can be explained.
    Great point again! Yes you are right there as well, and I often did so. Maybe the product v12 should NOT be called "Alpha Anywhere" but instead: Alpha.NET
    That might make a sudden difference in things.
    I remember Alpha one time had great connections with ORACLE and we were all waiting on them to announce some kind of close cooperation between Alpha Software and ORACLE. That would have made an instant breakthrough for Alpha in the professional market in Europe.

    Thank you for your points and remarks!!

  25. #25
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Hi Marcel,

    Nope, we are fairly new to Alpha (since 2 years). Before (and until!) that we developed in Paradox for Windows.

    So we didn't meet before. But i guess we will (and i'm looking forward to a meeting with fellow Dutch developers).

    Frankly, being so late on board might be the reason we trust the product. We started with V10, that wasn't bad, but wouldn't be good enough for our business. 10.5 was hope giving. Ad since V11 we are confident in the product. Not because the (promised :-) .net support but because we can build all what we need fast. With nice gimmics that help to sell our software like charting and basic mobile features.

    We only use it for webdevelopment, because that is the way we and our customers want to go.

    So, i think that the last decade the product just wasn't good enough for a breakthrough on the european market. Now it is in my opinion, so it will grow...
    Maybe not much adoption in my generation. But when see how easy and with how much pleasure my 13 year old son creates things in his webdeveloper version without help from his father, than there is world to win for Alpha. But maybe they target another grow route...fair enough, that is theire call.


    Quote Originally Posted by mronck View Post
    Hey Ger, nice to hear from you. Did I maybe meet you during the Alpha Conference in Putten several years ago? Back then hosted by Basys Software? Could be, if you are around in Alpha for 15 years already. It is always great to hear from others in our country working with Alpha!

    But if you do, you will certainly also know you are only one of few..... it would be very interesting to know why YOU think that is the case? I can understand why you would use Alpha, the question is more: why do others not, and what can we do to improve the image of our environment ?
    Ger Kurvers
    Alpha Anywhere / V4.5.5.0- Build 5667
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Marcel.

    You did not get the gist to mentioning "B Grade Alpha". I rarely ever mention alpha and I have sold an Alpha database system for $16,000.00. That is not exactly off the shelf, but there are 29 copies of it out there now.

    One of the greatest things still is "Attitude is Altitude"

    The first thing I teach new sales people is attitude and if they can't get their attitude into it, oh well.
    Dave Mason
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    Volunteer Moderator Steve Wood's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    I will start a new thread on this once we have clarity on the goals and objective. Here is a start...

    Topic: Summit Meeting for all Alpha Five Developers

    Theme: Improve the business prospects for every Alpha Five Developer worldwide

    Terms:

    Prospects - those businesses and individuals who are in a position to use our services.
    Clients - those business and individuals already using our services.
    Developers - us guys.

    Goals:

    - Increase awareness of Alpha Five as a viable and even better solution.
    - more goals here...

    Possible solutions:

    - Coordinate Developer's "sales pitch" to present a consistent message to prospective clients
    - Evangalize the product
    - Tweak Alpha's marketing and sales approach to assist in building interest among Prospects as well as Developers.
    - Coordinate Developer's marketing efforts to build this awareness - social media, local efforts, trade shows, etc.
    - See things from the Prospect's and Client's eyes - identify pros and cons of using Alpha Five on a typical project.
    - Identify how to thwart or minimize above 'cons', exentuate the 'pros'.
    - Attitude, attitude, attitude

    Facts affecting the environment:

    - Prospects are different than Developers. We are Developers; Prospects are those who would take advantage of our services.
    - There are a lot more Prospects in the world than Developers!
    - There are a lot more non-Alpha Five Developers in the world than Alpha Five Developers.
    - There are millions being committed every day on new software development projects!

    Think of it this way, if ALL of us worked for the same company as their "software development team" we would have a consistent message both to the prospect/client, and internal amongst ourselves. It is possible to create that environment while still being independent developers. We would still be independent developers, but part of a worldwide team. Think of the worldwide company named Accenture. They employ thousands of contract consultants worldwide. The contract consultants are all "independent" but they all are part of Accenture and deliver a consistent message to prospective clients.
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Steve, one issue in "Coordinating a Developer's "sales pitch" to present a consistent message to prospective clients" is ensuring the delivery of a consistent, i.e. very good, end product. The Bell Curve dictates that while there are some very good Alpha developers, there are also some very bad Alpha developers. Perhaps one of the goals should be the creation of an Alpha Developer Certification, or levels of certification, that delineate the areas in which developers are considered very competent. I know if I developed for third parties for a living (I develop for my own corporate finance use), I would be wary of sharing a message with folks who have just learned to place a grid on an A5W page (like me). When you start marketing the merits of the "platform", which is certainly warranted, it will tend to equalize those who call themselves Alpha developers, unless some kind of certification is involved. Without certification, the risk is that poor client experiences will reflect badly on the platform, not just the developer.

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    Volunteer Moderator Steve Wood's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Certification can and should be done under IADN (see link below). "Certification" has a legal meaning and comes with some implied liability by the certifying entity. A Certification program (USA anyway) requires approval of a governing organization like the Board of Education. Being a good developer is more than passing some programming tests.
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    Default Re: The Business End of Alpha Software for independent developers

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
    Marcel.

    You did not get the gist to mentioning "B Grade Alpha". I rarely ever mention alpha and I have sold an Alpha database system for $16,000.00. That is not exactly off the shelf, but there are 29 copies of it out there now.

    One of the greatest things still is "Attitude is Altitude"

    The first thing I teach new sales people is attitude and if they can't get their attitude into it, oh well.
    I DID understand that Dave, and I respect you for getting some success with that. It works for you, and that is all one could ever want.
    But as I keep saying: that does not work everywhere....

    Let me hook on to your reaction a few posts ago. Don't take this the wrong way, I mean no disrespect and I don't mean to be blunt. I much appreciate your contributions to this thread because every sound needs to be heard in order to come any step further with this quest. I did not say this earlier, because I feel it may easily be understood as "condescending", and that is not how I mean it. But since it may shed some light on my point, here goes anyway:

    Bill Gates had nothing when he started. He is/was a master salesperson first!!! He was also an excellent programmer.
    I am a master salesman!
    But still you are nothing anywhere close to Bill Gates. So there must be more to it then that. And there is.
    There is always something specific in any situation that makes the clock tick. You can't simply duplicate approaches everywhere and trust it will deliver the same results. Situations vary, moments in time vary, chances and opportunities vary, circumstances vary.
    Yes, I hear you, it is in the skill-set of the master salesman to pick those up and go from there. But even the very best master salesman who ever lived on this planet would not be able to make his fortune living as Robinson Crusoe on an inhabited island with only Friday at his side who has no money. Get the picture?

    Circumstances on Europe's Mainland have, in the past decade, not been favorable for ANY developer working with Alpha Five. Unfortunately. And I have done quite something to change that. To no avail in the end. As said earlier: changing the future of Alpha in Europe is not a one developer job!
    Now, like Ger said, this may very well be on the verge of changing with v11 or v12 as this might be the moment where the professional IT world over here will start to see the Alpha Five product as matured and up-to-the-job. I do not yet see the signals, but I can see it happening just like Ger said. However, one swallow does not make the summer.

    The whole point of this thread might be to understand where that moment lies, and what we need to do to help this "change" take place, and in between, what can be the strategy of any Alpha Five developer in Europe to survive and earn a living.

    This may be:

    1) A change in attitude (thank you Dave for that point)
    2) A change in how to use it (thank you Felix for that point)
    3) Highlighting the positives and industry standards included more then the productname of Alpha (thank you TPeterson for that point)


    And any more issues that can come up in Steve's conference, and I hope there are many, and I hope it will be achievable for most.
    Last edited by mronck; 11-27-2012 at 05:43 AM.

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