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Thread: Make A4 Windows based

  1. #31
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    This thread is going round in circles somewhat.
    At the end of the day, we can't make an Alpha 4 for Windows ourselves. Only Selwyn can do that for us, and I hope he is aware of this thread.

    So, please Selwyn, for those of us who love Alpha 4 and don't want to use anything else, it would be useful to know if you are likely to address our Alpha 4 issues (even if only the Windows printer typeset issue that many of us lust after).
    At least if we have a definitive answer from you, we will know where we stand and can decide where we go from here.
    I think that's reasonable...

    Thank you in advance.

    Regards
    Paul

  2. #32
    Peter Brown
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    I won't go over what's already been said, but I heartily echo most of it. Just to let you folks know that there's an A4 user here in the UK who'd not only upgrade his existing users, but add a few more if the Windows option was there.

    Peter Brown

  3. #33
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    Default RE: Windows based ** A4 **

    I for one would appreceiate A4V9. Like so many others,
    i do not have the time to rewrite the past 9 years of developing my applications to run all functions of a quality management system for a small to medium sized company.

    Bells and whistles don't drive our operation, its the rapid availability of data and reports that do. The great flexibility and ease of learning A4V7 is also another great driving force.

    I too have tried Alpha 5 and find it difficult to unlearn the methods and style of A4v7.

  4. #34
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Bitching again - but I will feel a bit better when I finish.
    I was just entering data in a simple db in A5. I did remember SHFT CTRL D for today's date but then I wanted to use the equivelent of F2 from A4 and I could remember this. I went to the Help for A5 and there is no help subject on data entry, that I could see. I couldn't believe it.
    I did print out a sheet of the HOT KEYS years ago but now I have to find it.
    Like I said before, A5 is for developers, A4 is for users!
    Steve

  5. #35
    Allen Palmer
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Unfortunately, I believe we have gotten our answer from Alpha. Some time ago, Alpha indicated that they would not put any further effort into Alpha 4. By their continued silence on the issue of creating a version of Alpha 4 that can function completely and properly within the Windows environment, they have clearly restated their position that we must jump on the Alpha 5 bandwagon, or please get out of the way.

    Hopefully, I can keep an old Win 98SE Pentium III/800 mHz system running with a couple of older printers to continue to do my association work. I tried to put Alpha 4 V7 on a Windows XP laptop but I have the same screen problems everyone and his brother have reported previously. Also, I am not interested in trying to be a developer. Alpha 4 is a great tool for users much in the way a well balanced hammer is a great tool for a carpenter. Alpha 5 is for the research types who want to develop applications for a user. It is not for small business or association types like myself who want a quality tool to accomplish tasks quickly, efficiently, and reliably with output (reports, etc.) that make a high quality, professional impression.

    Add me to the list of disappointed of Alpha 4 users who have concluded that Alpha is no longer interested in us.

    Al Palmer

  6. #36
    Rick Sloan
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Thanks for the comment Allen.

    I for one don't feel we should let Alpha off the hook that easily.

    I would like Selwyn or Richard to come flat out and tell us whether they are going to do anything more with A4.

    If not, we can prepare for our A4 future as best we can.

    Richard and Selwyn have to realize (and I am sure do realize) that they would not have the company "Alpha" and their new product "A5", if it were not for A4 users. One of us rightfully mentioned about them remembering their roots.

    We are their roots.

    I think we all deserve at least an answer.

    Don't you ??

    Rick Sloan

  7. #37
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    Paul Hudson
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Maybe Selwyn isn't aware of / hasn't read this thread?

  8. #38
    Rick Sloan
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Hi Paul.

    I see tech staff answering questions in this forum. I am sure they have been made aware of this string.

    Rick

  9. #39
    Allen Palmer
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Gentlemen:

    By now, it should be painfully obvious to all Alpha4 users that Alpha has answered the previous 38 messsages on this thread. It's unfortunate but that's the way it goes. I will continue to use version 7 under Win98 for as long as possible.

    Al Palmer

  10. #40
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Search Alpha Five Help for "Keys", you'll find "Shortcut keys", and a grid listing them all. -- tom

  11. #41
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Shame. I know that in some respects compared to A5, A4 has square wheels, but it still gets me from A to B very well.
    The ability to print in Typeset mode to Win printers would have been nice, though.

    Guess I'd better stock up on DOS printers while I can....

    Paul

  12. #42
    Hugh Der
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    We just upgraded today from v6.2 to v8 and have found that aside from being able to work under win2k, that not much else was offered for the money we paid for this upgrade. As mentioned on many of the previous posts, a key component of what we thought we were buying was the capability to use any windows-based printers. This capability in my opinion as offered in v8 is underwhelming! Typeset printing was the support we were expecting, not some half-baked attempt to getting by! We found this thread too late to stop a small waste of money. Good thing we didn't shell out for the networked version which we were looking at acquiring. Oh well, maybe there may be an a4 v9 for windows, but from the what we have read so far, that seems unlikely. From the website the focus is clearly on A5.

    As with many of you, we have all invested a lot of time in our A4 databases. It would be such a waste of time to reinvest into something that does basically the same thing in a GUI format.

  13. #43
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Hello

    I was reading this thread with interest.

    I have a client that invested lots of time and money in the development/design of their database. They followed the upgrades from A2 to A4 ver7 - time elapsed... the users were very happy -

    The people came and went - and now - so did their support.
    Now they are on the bandwagon to upgrade - but they wish to keep all the design they have done. To redo everything from the ground up would be ludacris.

    Please tell me there is gonna be a a4 v9 for windows?
    or at least tell me of an upgrade path to the current version -

    Thank u
    Jorge

  14. #44
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Oh My goodness, Alpha5 sucks if you started with a4 there is nothing like it! If I wanted to learn another new language I think it would be php or asp or maybe latin..I want to set up and use a database in hours not months. I want an intuitive front end and I dont care whats driving it. Take Alpha5 and add an Alpha4 front end to it. Thats what Alpha did with DB3 annone remember that one? We want easy , no learning curve software kinda like my wife, she wants to drive her car but not open the hood ever! i dont want to learn objects , writing macros or such I want to teach macros with keystrokes, I want to use keys like v b o w p to do things, I don't like mice! in other words I like ALPHA4 and I have all the versions. either update it or maybe someone else will, someone who wants to deliver to the general public and not follow the idiots (although very rich) at microsoft. From what I see of A5 its just like Faxpro or access, so why not just buy access, its a lot cheaper. Buy the way I have tried several a5 products and access and I don't like any of them. I think alpha no longer cares.. Maybe if they can sell enough a5s Microsoft will buy them out!!!!!!!!!
    later guys I have to fix my screen size again..

  15. #45
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    Charles A. Halsall
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Add me to that list too. I have purchased, over the years, four major releases of Alpha 4; version 1, version 2, version 4, version 6 and version 7 with there respective runtimes; since 1991. It is a considerably amount of money.

  16. #46
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    Charles A. Halsall
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Oops! it was 5 versions.

  17. #47
    Francois Blawat
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Rick,


    You can put me down for a "Windows" version of Alpha4 as well. We have used Alpha4v4 for many years (Since late 80's) and I for one always liked how "fast" Alpha4 was able to change screens and not worrying about using a mouse to make changes. I love the fact that I use the "W" key to open other databases and move around with my keyboard instead of a mouse. We use this database for providing tech support and other things where we need the "data" right away.

    To be fair, I have downloaded the Alpha5 v5 test version and tried it for several weeks and I simply could not spend anymore time on this version. I am comfortable with Alpha4v4,v6 and v7 and I wish that v8 had corrected some of the issues we DOS users were talking about under Windows XP. (Screen Colors, Using different fonts like the original DOS version, etc)

    I tried getting my company to purchase v8 of Alpha software but they would not because of some of the outstanding issues still present.

    I would like to know if Alpha plans on releasing any more fixes for Alpha4 users or a newer Alpha4 version?.

  18. #48
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    Default RE: Make A4 Windows based

    Seems like they are ignoring us, waiting for us to join them or just give up. I personally will not purchase a V5 product, like you I have tried a few versions (bought) and do not like it. So if they are not going to do anything for us I will migrate to mysql (can you spell free) and design my front end with another free product. It's not that I wont spend the money but if I am not going to get support anyway I might as well use a product that is really growing and is part of the free internet like Linuex. Ya its really for web based programs but it works fine on a local machine and I know some of my clients are interested in putting there applications (alpha 4 ) on line. This will probably be easier with mysql. Oh well I guess its goodbye to Alpha, we new ya when you were just a little ver 1.

  19. #49
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    Brian Maginnity
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    Default Early Alpha 4 user

    I, too, would like to see a true seamless Windows version of Alpha 4. I currently use version 4 and have been a user since version 2. I once tried the trial version of Alpha 5, but it was very difficult to use and I deleted it. The favorite aspect of my version is the ease of switching among several indexes. In Alpha 5, I used one of my databases. Even with technical support, I found it too cumbersome. I guess simple is still what my version of Alpha 4 is all about...and it works! This has made me hesitant to even upgrade to Alpha 4 version 7 or even 8. A true windows version of Alpha 4 that has the ease of the older versions would keep a lot of us tried and true Alpha 4 users coming back for more. However, from reading the threads and company policy comments, I fear the push is Alpha 4 OUT and Alpha 5 IN!
    PS. Does anyone have any comments, pro or con, on upgrading Alpha 4 to the newest version. Also, can anyone help me get a full screen display on XP. I have tried to play around with the windows screen settings and even tried alt+enter. Any help would be appreciated.

  20. #50
    Former Alpha Employee JerryBrightbill's Avatar
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    Jerry Brightbill
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    Default

    Personally, this whole thread reminds me of an IT person who still claims that no one needed a word processer newer than Wordperfect 5.1, since it did everything he needed. Gee, my old 1960 Ford got me to work. But it became obsolete. I am particulary curious about the poster sticking with A4V6.2. The DOS extender (not Alpha's) in that version was a bit "buggy" to say the least. Moving to the stability of a true Windows program was a very much worth the effort. I too started with A4V2, swore at A5V6, struggled with A5V1 (still use it - a little), but now use A5V5, V6, V7 and would never even consider moving back. There are just too many features in the new programs that are very useful.

    I think was is being asked for is a Windows version with the look, features, and speed of DOS. That isn't going to happen with any program from any company since the demand is minimal. Ask Corel if they will update Wordperfect 5.1 to current Windows compatible because you like the features. Not going to happen. Some developers have tried to duplicate the DOS effect in Windows based programs and quickly realized just how much capability they are giving away. If DOS isn't dead, it is very close.

    In my most recent employment, an old DOS based program is still in use. All of the employees HATE it, since they are all accustomed to Windows. Many have never even heard of Windows 3.0, let alone DOS. Another program must run in DOS, but because of limitations, the last program that will run it is Win 3.1 and the hardware is limited to 286-486 computers. We kept an old 10 year old 486 based laptop for that one application. When the laptop dies, game over.

    On the other hand, if what you have works, you can try to keep it going. But asking a company to support 20 or even 10 year old technology in todays fast moving computer world is not realistic.

  21. #51
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    Default

    Jerry,

    I take issue with your statement of buggy A4V6.2

    AS A USER, please note, AS A USER I have not found a FIVE version which hasn't yielded a bug within the first two or three things I wanted to do. It just turns me off so quickly. ie I remember trying to enter the date in FIVE with the short cut keys. Selwyn acknowledged the bug and never fiixed it until he sold a newer version.

    AS A USER I enter ALT D 60 or 70 times a day. I can't screw around looking for work arounds in FIVE. I just give up and get back to doing some useful USER work, as oposed to DEVELOPER.

    Latest issue in Five I tried to make a report in FIVE but the mouse was not holding the size of the section. Faster to forget about it.

    Yes as a developer I am sure you have a zillion bells and whistles and they shine brightly, but as a USER I don't have the time to figure out which Bell works and which one has a bug.

    Steve Pick

  22. #52
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    Default

    Hello All,

    I wandered over here tonight and read this thread with interest because I held these same sentiments some time ago. I too wanted a Window's based A4 and just about jumped ship to Delphi when I realized it wasn't going to happen. With tongue in cheek, I told people at the time that I'd rather give up my wife than Alpha Four ............

    But I'm on the 'other side' now and I'm glad I made the switch. There was a learning curve to be sure, but there was a learning curve when I originally switched from Professional File to Alpha 4v2 years ago. After you get over the hump you begin to see quite a bit of family resemblance between A4 and A5. Now that my learning curve is over, I can honestly say that I can do things faster in A5. This is not to depreciate A4, it is a wonderful product.

    If I had to guess, I'd say that you'll not see a Win32 version of A4 developed. Besides the obvious preoccupation that Alpha Software has currently with getting the new v7 desktop and Web server rolled out, they are working feverously to get the client/server version out. And if I were to polish my crystal ball (which rarely works BTW :-) I'd say that the future push might be towards moving away from dependance on Win32 apps, to a more OS agnostic approach, web based, Linux, etc. Even if there were significant current demand for a win32 version of A4, I've got to think it would be a shrinking pool going forward.

    I've not offered much comfort here, and I do understand your point of view having been there. But as I read through this thread it appears that one of the main issues is the problem of printing. Why not use A5 for your printing needs? Sounds like most of you have purchased it anyway.

    I've got to say that when I first began looking at A5, the most foreign aspect of it was the report generator. But again, once you hurdle the learning curve it is easy and powerful. And you can produce stunning reports with it. I'm sure there would be issues with the memo field format, as v5 uses a newer version of the memo file format. But this shouldn't be a huge hurdle as A5 can convert the later A4 version. It might be that temp tables would have to be used, but this is not a big deal. Used to do this all the time with A4 anyway.

    Thoughts?

    Jim Chapman ............. former A4 addict
    Last edited by Jim Chapman; 11-04-2005 at 02:44 AM.

  23. #53
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    EVERETT L WILLIAMS II
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    Default Re: Culture clash that isn't

    I've just re-subscribed to the forum and wandered back into this thread because it speaks directly to a clash that I am still having. I have in my hands a huge application written in A4V4, using just about every trick available in that version. That means that I have a dog in this fight, but what I am discovering is that nobody here seems to understand the fight. I have been in this business for almost 40 years now and have seen change after change after change. There are technological changes and paradigm changes and they are being confused here. The change from A4 to A5 certainly has technological aspects, but they are trivial compared to the paradigm changes involved.

    Simply put, there are a fairly large number of people who will never be satisfied with the visual, mouse-oriented interface of the windows world, not because they are stick-in-the muds or some other pejorative term, but because the hybrid, mouse/keyboard interface is inefficient. Also, the modeless interface of the event-driven, windows/relational world is foreign to the thinking of many who are trying to efficiently and safely trying to get work done. I know that "sequential" is one of those words that has acquired a negative implication, but sequentiality, or at least the sequence of process is one of the building blocks of integrity and safety. Multi-processing may be a useful technological environment, but most business processes have sections that must happen sequentially. Parallel processing or multiple tasks can improve the efficiency of task completion, but, as in processors themselves, recognizing and enforcing sequentiality at critical junctures is an absolute requirement., regardless of technology. That sequentiality is much easier to perceive and practice in a pure, keyboard driven DOS-like environment, as it is almost an actual limitation of that world.

    It has been my experience that many applications at the actual point of contact with physical process are slowed greatly by anything other than keyboard input. People tend to memorize keyboard sequences that they use often, and after a while, they don't have to look or even think much about the sequence...it just happens. Of course, the best example with which most people are thoroughly familiar is point of sale.

    Now, let us take that to a development environment. People have an enormous investment in their development process, no matter whether they are "real" developers or not. Even something as intuitive as A4 is a major investment of time and energy for the user/developer that needs a particular computer function, but really doesn't want to become an expert. To have to throw away the majority part of that investment and basically start over again is not reasonable as a learning process nor as a cost-effective investment of time and energy. ROI. You see it repeated over and over again. "I've already got a working application that has all of my business logic in it. All I really need is a few good looking 'Windows' reports and the ability to run on XP or whatever is today's OS."

    Abandoning an existing, working model without full or almost full backwards compatibility is a disaster for any company that is not a monopoly, and even those who are monopolies have found slow uptake of new technology. If you have the cash to make it through the interregnum, good for you. If a customer has to basically start over, their choices are going to be a lot wider than just you.

    I have seen it repeatedly said that this thread draws few comments. Most of the people who wrote A4 style applications were not developers and could not and would not spend the time to tunnel through a user forum, even if they had the time, which most don't. The only time they show up is when they have a "show-stopper", and they need help, and then they are only looking for "their" problem...nothing else. A few will wander in, but not many. Developer types are always looking for the new and better tool, and as has been noted repeatedly, think A5 is just that and that anybody who doesn't realize it is just foolish.

    Regardless of it's superiority, A5 is not necessarily superior for the purposes of the long time customers of A4. The paradigm is entirely different and not necessarily appropriate for many of the applications done in A4. The very least that Alpha should have done is provide full conversion of existing applications. It could have been done. Alternatively, they could have knocked out a few of the more egregious limitations of A4, added Windows reports, and given everybody the A4V9 that they have been requesting. Instead, we have this yawning canyon between A4 and A5, that many A4 users will never cross. If they have to learn a more difficult and less intuitive new paradigm, they will bite the bullet and go to something awful like MS Access or one of the newer SQL's that make a nod towards user-friendliness.

    The critical point for this strategy is approaching. All the old Win98 machines are dying or just insufficient for any other purpose than running Alpha. As people are dragged forward and face the idea of spending their money on A4V7/8 or biting the bullet and going to something new, Alpha will lose a huge chunk of them. What's worse is that many of them are now so hacked off with Alpha that they may not come back in any case. Technology is not what sold A4. Intuitive use and rapid development did. If the technology had been faulty, A4 would not have lasted, but it was not what sold it. Now, Alpha is trying to sell a new version on almost a pure technology basis and they are making competitive sales to those who want that technology, but their long term user base just does not care.

  24. #54
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    Steve Pick
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    Default Printers

    Jim,

    I agree, the report generator, is faster to use than A4s and can easily be used on a copy of the A4 DBF files. I already use this for mailing labels.

    However, I am not amused that in trying Five V6 to produce a simple document I couldn't print the document using Five V3. I have a three user copy of the earlier version but only a single user version of the later version. As I use three computers for development (of which I do very litle) I haven't figured which two computers to register V6 on. When the 30 days ran out on V6, I thought I could print the report using the earlier version.

    $99 maybe a reasonable price for a fully fledged database but $99.00 to print out a few documents is too much.

    Incidentally Archmedes next post is well written and well thought out. Well worth the effort to read.

    Steve
    PS I appreciate all your great efforts to enlighten this group.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chapman
    I've got to say that when I first began looking at A5, the most foreign aspect of it was the report generator. But again, once you hurdle the learning curve it is easy and powerful. And you can produce stunning reports with it. I'm sure there would be issues with the memo field format, as v5 uses a newer version of the memo file format. But this shouldn't be a huge hurdle as A5 can convert the later A4 version. It might be that temp tables would have to be used, but this is not a big deal. Used to do this all the time with A4 anyway.

    Thoughts?

    Jim Chapman ............. former A4 addict

  25. #55
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    FWIW,
    I've invested thousands of dollars and thousands of hours developing projects in Filemaker. Then they took away the multi-user from the runtime so you had to buy full versions for every seat, or stay with version 3 without the new features. I thought I would start with ALpha and develop new projects in Alpha and re-write the Filemaker stuff when I had time.Then Filemaker version 4 would not work with XP, so we had to upgrade EVERYONE again to version 5. More thousands of dollars and very unhappy customers. When I made the decision to switch to a better product, it was a learning curve to be sure. It sounds to me like you are asking Alpha to continue to develop a dos product. I would be surprised that any company today would consider that. If your current product is serving your needs, then I wouldn't consider a switch. But, if you insist on NEW features, it sounds like you will need to make a product switch. You can either choose the newer Alpha product or....? The grass is always greener.

    Bill Belanger

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