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Thread: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

  1. #1
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    Default Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Per a suggestion from Valerie Simpkins, I decided to start a thread which highlights some of the powerful new features in version 5 that I think will appeal to users converting from Alpha Four. Of course there are so many new features, that Alpha Software wrote an entire book listing those numerous changes. In this thread, we’ll focus upon a few at a time.

    Here several new features that you should find very helpful in your business apps.

    · Send/ Receive Email via Alpha Five
    · Backup all of your important data within A5
    · Greatly enhanced Expression Builder that will virtually build expressions and calculated fields for you.
    · You can now access all fields in a SET when creating field rules. Of course you could always do that with A4, but this is brand new in the Windows product.
    · Smart Fields: You can enhance data entry fields by using Alpha’s built in smart labels as follows:

    If it is a date field, instead of manually typing out dates, a calendar will pop up.
    If it is a numeric field, a calculator will pop up.

    Of course if you buy the Full Edition, you will be treated to a wide array of Action Scripting options, which should remind you of Alpha Four. Once again, this is such a feature rich option, that an entire book was written on the subject. But for starters, let me highlight the following examples.

    · You can place buttons on your forms that will enable the user to open forms/browses, close forms/browses, print/preview reports, run very powerful queries/searches, etc. all with simple mouse clicks.

    · You can set up variables for a report that the user will enter a print time. For example, you can choose to have a dialog box pop up prompting the user for a Start / End Date for a report.

    Do you think doing all of the above is hard? Yes it is if you’re using another database program. However, with Alpha Five, you can do everything listed above [and a lot more] without writing a single line of code. All you have to do is make choices from a list of menu options that walk you through the process step by step.

    Please feel free to ask about these features and many other powerful options you can utilize in ver 5. I’m confident many of the courteous Alpha veterans will be more than happy to answer your questions.

    Robert T

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    Default RE: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Robert;
    As someone who is verrrry, verrry slooooowly trying to make the upgrade (many times in the back of my mind I think downgrade!) to A5, I am certainly going to appreciate the comments on this forum. Thus the insights from knowledgeable A4 and A5 users about the benfits of A5 and how to get there will be great. I know a great many of you (A5 gurus)have passed this way before.

    However, having spoken and met so many A5 converts over this past number of years, I often think they have forgotten how "good" and "easy" A4 was (and still is!) As you mentioned, A5 only now has SET field rules which A4 has. And now with an A4v8 option, I believe, you can send and receive faxes and e-mail. And of course, A4 has a very good backup facility. All of the things you mentioned about creating buttons for reports/forms/browses and searches with mouse clicks are easily done in A4 ... not as "prettily" perhaps, but very easily (and if you want to use the keyboard, probably faster). I can't comment on A5s "smart labels", but I believe all the other "benefits" you mentioned for A5 are "basics" in A4v6 and higher. So, I don't believe these are incentives to move to A5. Obviously we eventually have to leave our beloved A4 because of all the Windows and hardware issues, but I really think the people who read this forum would like to know all the things they can do in A5 that are not possible in A4. I have tried A5 since v1 up to and including v5, and I'm still looking to find them. But knowing the real benefits of A5 over A4 will certainly help in mitigating the long, painful learning curve.

    Duncan

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    Default RE: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Hello Duncan:

    I thought you post was excellent. I will try respond to some of your questions, but I won’t do it in any particular order, and I probably won’t answer all of your questions.

    I’ve always felt that A4 was an outstanding product in it’s time, so nothing I say is a knock againt Alpha Four. I used it for many years and I loved the product. However, it’s been years since I’ve used A4, so I really don’t remember all of the features, plus I don’t know what changes were incorporated into versions 7 & 8.

    More importantly, I left out a very key point, the switch from DOS to Windows opens up an entirely new paradigm that allows you much greater flexibility, a wider array of features, and the ability to do things you could only dream of in the DOS product. That’s why I reluctantly switched from Alpha Four for DOS to A5 for Windows, and I never looked back. Once you learn and become familiar with the windows paradigm, you will discover many new and far better ways of accomplishing tasks that were extremely hard and/or impossible with the DOS product.

    In A4 you can only work in one database or set at a time. If I remember correctly, you spend a lot of time closing and opening databases [dbf files]. That isn’t a factor in Windows, which allows you to have multiples copies of data tables/sets, open simultaneously. Once again, this by itself is an issue that could take up the rest of the day, so I’m once again scratching the surface on this topic.

    In A5 you can work in one data table [known as a database in A4] and open up a 2nd or even a 3rd copy of the same table that runs queries/sorts in the background. Wow! That’s only one small example of the power available.

    In addition, as I pointed out in my initial post, I only touched upon a small part of what’s new in version 5. There are so many new or updated features, that I couldn’t begin to do justice to all of them. That’s why I mentioned the “What’s new in Alpha Five” book which I believe you can download for free. Read it over carefully and I would be shocked to learn you still believe you can do everything A5 can do in A4. We’re talking about a difference that is bigger than night and day.

    I’m sure others will chip in with much more valuable insights, but allow me to point out a few things you cannot do in A4. My caveat is the same, I will only hit upon a small part of what you can do in A5 ver 5, that you couldn’t do with Alpha Four in your wildest dreams. Once again, my memory of A4 is hazy, but I’ll do my best.

    · A5 automatically creates forms and reports. You don’t have to go through the tedious steps of placing every field in your table or set into a report of form.
    · Ver 5 allows you to then create Stylesheets, which are very colorful and highly functional data entry forms you can only dream of in A4. This is far more than a decorative issue, it provides much better functionality in terms of data entry and access to reports, mailing labels, and operations.
    · As mentioned in my previous post, Ver 5 has an expression builder that is light years ahead of the one in A4. How can I explain the differences? I can’t, you have to use it to believe it.
    · A5 automatically writes Xbasic scripts for you in the background. Now I know you’re not going to tell me that Xbasic even exists in A4. Xbasic is a very powerful programming language that provides much of the functionality that is impossible to do in Alpha Four. And if it’s not impossible, it would take up far too much effort and time.
    · A5 has a subset of Xbasic called Xdialog that puts an incredible amount of power at your fingertips. With Xdialog, one can create nifty dialog forms, prompts, search buttons, and a host of other highly functional items merely by selecting from a series of choices in something called “Action Scripting”. I also mentioned this in my previous post and there is no counterpart in Ver 4.
    · Action Scripting gives the Non-Programmer the type of toolset that was only available in previous versions to Alpha Developers who were Xbasic programmers. In ver 5, you can do almost everything merely by selecting from a series of menu choices. I know for a fact this does not exist in A4.
    · I gave you a couple of Xdialog examples in the previous post [report dates] and I’m positive you cannot do that in A4. And if you can, the amount of work it would take is exponentially greater than A5 ver 5 where almost everything is done from a list of menu options.

    Duncan, I could go on and on, but I hope you get the idea. As stated above, I could probably spend the rest of the day talking about things you can do in A5 ver 5, that are impossible in the DOS product. However, my fingers are getting tired and I have other things to do. I hope this little capsule summary helped, and if it didn’t, may I once again suggest you download the “What’s New in Ver 5” book in pdf format.

    Please post any questions you may have and check for input from other forum participants.

    Robert T


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    Default RE: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Hello Duncan:

    Sorry, but there was one other point I wanted to make. If you’re happy with Alpha Four, and if it does everything you want and need, then I would agree, stick with the product.

    Having said the above, sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing, or what you can do, because the feature set is not available in the DOS product. One way of getting a feel for what you can accomplish is via the FREE download of A5 ver 5. I'm not positive, but I believe it is the full A5 product that works for a total of 45 days.

    Duncan, believe me, you will never come close to exploring all of the features and functionality in only 45 days. However, if you give A5 an honest try during that time frame, I’m confident you will discover a new world of exciting features that simply don't exist in Alpha Four.

    Robert T

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    Default RE: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Robert;
    You're proving my earlier point ... you forget how good A4 is! You said "in A4 you can only work in one database or set at a time". Actually, ia v6+ you can have 10 dbs open at a time, I believe ... it is quite easy (and believe me, faster than in A5) to switch dbs/tables. And with different "desktops" in A4 you have quick access to many,many dbs/tables. The big limit, of course, is "file handles" which is clearly a plus with A5.

    You'll have to pardon me, because I laughed when I read your comment about how you can get these 2nd and 3rd copies of your tables to do queries/searches in the background. If you were using A4 you wouldn't need to do it in the background. Do you have any idea how fast A4 runs with Win 98 on a 2+ gigahertz machine? You mention how A5 can automatically create reports. Ditto A4. Obviously you forget(while I don't think either are really usable).

    I also believe that much of Xbasic use fills a void in A5 versus A4's applications/macro abilities. You can not record keystrokes in A5 (I believe) Again, I think you're forgetting how good A4 is.

    But I am not trying to prove the superiority of A4 over A5 ... with all the time and effort Selwyn et al spent on A5v5, it couldn't be. I know you can't do everything that A5 can do with A4. For the record, I'm moving to A5, but I feel, for all the wrong reasons. It is for non-data base reasons i.e. Windows/technical issues. Also for the record, I have purchased and used sporatically A5V1, V3, and V5 (full edition). I have read all the documentation on A5v5, and for the "non-very high end" user (if I can use such a term) I see (to date)few advantages in A5. I dearly want to be proved wrong. Absolutely, for a high end developer, there is no question which product to use. But this forum would not be for those users. I also applaud Alpha for launching the $99 Home edition (Robert, you probably remember the extensive thread(s) on pricing when A5v5 was first released).I think this is a great idea as 45 days is not enough time for a committed A4 user to "switch", and $99 is a small investment.

    So A5 users out there, let's talk specifics. Let's talk about what the non-power user can get out of A5 that he can't do in A4. Otherwise, the A4 user is still going to be reluctant to switch, and the new A5 user needs help. But let's also not sugar coat it, and let's get the facts straight. While A5 is "easy" versus any other Windows db programme, the learning curve for someone used to A4 is long and hard (I believe). Particularly if you are unable to go "cold tukey to A5. But we gotta go there, so show us how.

    Thanks for listening, and please don't flame me too badly :)

    Duncan

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    Default RE: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Duncan,

    Alpha Four is a DOS application, of course. Because it's not a Windows program the user interface will always be very, very different from what Windows users are accustomed to. This is no big deal for computer savvy folks who don't mind tinkering, but in many business settings local IT departments are unwilling to do training and support for DOS applications. In my own work I've seen cases where folks prefer the A4 interface, once they get used to it... but they they leave or transfer and training has to happen all over again. Window apps behave the same. The training requirement for new users is substantially less.

    Furthermore, Windows apps do a better (but not perfect) job of rendering images on screen and on paper that look the same. Try to do typeset quality printing using a modern Windows printer, and a DOS application ???? This is bread and butter stuff for A5. No big deal. But is often difficult or impossible using A4.

    If you're building or supporting your own database, choose the tool that helps YOU be most productive. If you're supporting someone else, choose the tool that helps THEM be most productive. And, of course, if you're selling to somenone else you must offer what they're asking for.

    If folks wait to climb the A5 learning curve until A5 works like A4, they'll probably have a long wait. A5 doesn't have a macro recorder, but it does have a script recorder. With it you can see the code fragments (scripts) that A5 uses itself when you click on buttons, run operations, or open and close forms or reports. Action scripting in A5v5 is WAY better than earlier iterations (more powerful, more comprehensive, more robust and easier to understand). I don't think there's a parallel technology in A4. Action Scripting permits you to build programs using a point and click menu driven interace that, in the end, generates the code for you.

    -- tom

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    Default RE: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Duncan,

    Here are some other things that attract me to A5. I forget which, if any, are also in A4:

    A5V5 supports a variety of binary formats within the memo file. (blob, jpeg, bmp, rich text) Can A4?

    A5 uses a compound index technology, keeping all indexes for a table in a single CDX file.

    A5V5 permits you to save reports to various disk file formats like: pdf, text, rtf, or html. This increasingly important as more of us are now using data from our Alpha databases on web sites.

    A5V5 has a quick export feature that makes it a snap to export data to Excel formatted spreadsheets.

    A5V5 has integrated backup and restore capabilities.

    A5V5 has integrated encryption and decryption techology.

    A5V5 has integrated support for custom help file documentation to give your user context senstive access to help while the app is running.

    A5V5 supports bubble help reminders.

    A5V5 has an integrated spell checker.

    A5v5's code editor has an auto-complete feature that helps you minimize typing and syntax errors.

    A5V5 has integrated support for MS Word mail merge templates.

    A5V5 has integrated stylesheet technology that enables one to easily create and maintain a consistent look and feel throughout an entire app

    A5V5 includes an integrated security system that enables one to password protect the database, and assign varying access permission levels to users on your network.

    A5V5 now makes it very easy to create a modal data entry style, similar to A4. No changes can be made to the data displayed on a form until the modal data entry style is disabled or edits are enabled. These are 1 key choices a la C, or E in A4.

    A5V5 continues Alpha Five support for ODBC connections to other types of data sources.


    Duncan, as I said, it's possible that some of these are also present in A4, but I don't recall that any of them are.

    -- tom









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    Default RE: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Duncan:

    You may have had a good laugh but I disagree with your conclusion. I don’t think I proved your point. You focused on one or two comments I made and declared that a victory by stating A4 can do everything A5 can do. At least you admitted that file handles can be a problem. If memory serves me correctly, they can be a very serious issue.

    Once again, let me state that I’m not trying to talk you into dropping A4. You seem to think it serves your purpose, so if I were you, I would continue using it.

    Let’s return to the comment that made you laugh. Duncan, you’re not a windows user so you obviously didn’t understand my reference to opening a 2nd copy of a table in the background. Let me try to clarify the significance of that comment.

    I was not talking about manually opening a table as you would open a database in A4. I was talking about Xbasic [which doesn’t exist in A4] automatically opening a table [or multiple tables] in the background and conducting a series of operations without any intervention from the user. As a user, you don’t see any of that activity and you don’t have to consciously take any specific action, as it happens automatically in the background with blinding speed. The results are then displayed on a very colorful, useful, functional form.

    Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. While working in an Invoice Set and entering a series of items ordered by the customer into a child table, Xbasic will work in the background to fetch through all of the records in the child table or tables, total up debts/credits, post information, and do other things, and then display the all of the results, in a split-second. I am pretty sure Alpha Four cannot do that.

    More importantly Duncan, it’s clear to me that you don’t understand the power and significance of Action Scripting. That’s perfectly understandable because you’re a DOS user. Anyone with extensive A5 experience, and I am not necessarily referring to power users, can testify that Action Scripting is simply phenomenal. If you can dream up a task, or tasks, that you would like to automatically perform in the background [there I go again], Action Scripting can do it. In my opinion, Action Scripting alone is worth the upgrade from A4 to A5, as it virtually eliminates the need to program [write Xbasic scripts].

    As for specifics, what would you call the above? I also specifically mentioned the fact that A5 automatically creates colorful, functional forms and reports. Have you seen what Stylesheets can do for an application with the click of a mouse? I still remember manually creating all of those forms and reports in Alpha Four. In addition, as Tom mentioned, A5 reports are essentially foolproof. Just design a report, or have Alpha do it for you, and it will print just the way it looks with no effort required from he user. Once again, if I remember correctly, DOS reports are, at the very least, a big time challenge.

    Duncan, there are more specific features/functionality which you somehow ignored. I referred to Xdialog, which is not some geek term I threw out to sound impressive. If you were a ver 5 user, you would have a much better understanding of what Xdialog can do for your application. Once again, Xdialog is yet another powerful feature that does NOT exist in Alpha Four. Not only is Xdialog incredibly powerful for Alpha users, it allows the Alpha development team to update and add functionality to ver 5 in a very short period of time.

    Let me once again remind you that my last message only scratched the surface of what a user can do in A5 ver 5. And despite what you have said so far, you cannot do most of those things in A4 Duncan, there are very good reasons why many people have left DOS and moved to Windows. And among those windows users, the overwhelming majority have upgraded to ver 5 because of the rich feature set. Once again, please read what’s new in ver 5 and then advise which of those many powerful new features you think are also in Alpha Four.

    In my last message, I referred to an “Expression Builder” that performs functions virtually automatically. As you select fields and the type of operations you want to perform, the new expression builder actually fills in the information for you. It does a lot more but I just don’t have the time to list everything it does in this message.

    And I mentioned queries, which are the heart of any database program. The new Query functionality in ver 5 is nothing short of phenomenal. Although the query features in Alpha Four were great in it’s day, they are but a shadow of what you can now do. That’s one more specific on our growing list.

    Let me end by repeating what I said above Duncan, the specific features [and yes they are specifics, even though you ignored them] are only a few that I selected for whatever reasons. There is so much more that I haven’t even mentioned. Maybe some other veteran A5 user will talk about some of the other features that are unique to Alpha Five ver 5.

    Robert T

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    Default RE: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Hello Duncan,

    >>. Let's talk about what the non-power user can get out of A5 that he can't do in A4. Otherwise, the A4 user is still going to be reluctant to switch, and the new A5 user needs help. But let's also not sugar coat it, and let's get the facts straight. While A5 is "easy" versus any other Windows db programme, the learning curve for someone used to A4 is long and hard (I believe). Particularly if you are unable to go "cold tukey to A5. But we gotta go there, so show us how.

    Thanks for listening, and please don't flame me too badly :) <<

    No flaming necessary, this is a wonderful set of questions that get to the heart of issues for the non-‘power’ user. Just to note what has so ably been pointed out; to a certain degree, this is a moot point as the platform (dos) is looking more and more like an orphan in today’s software world. This alone is a huge issue, as you know.

    I consider myself a prior Alpha Four addict. I very much wanted a “Windows Alpha Four”. I agree with you that Alpha Four is a tremendously easy program to use. Factored into that statement is the subtle acknowledgement that I was also very familiar with A4. If I would remember back to when I changed to A4 from another tremendously easy, but less powerful, database program (Professional File), I would have to admit that at first I thought A4 was difficult to learn. Ok, on to my thoughts about the non-power user:

    On ease of use, IMHO, it is a dead heat. If you are familiar and used to DOS, the windows interface will seem confusing and ‘cluttered’. If you are familiar with the windows interface, A5 will be more intuitive than the ‘keystroke’ oriented A4. The only caveat to this that A5 contains a ton more options and tools. This could be viewed as complex. I view it as a bunch of new toys :-)

    On creating user interface objects, (forms, browses, menus, etc), Alpha Five has a huge advantage, both in richness and speed of creation. Certainly all the tools take some time to learn, but object styles, style sheets, the ability to copy and paste individual object properties, and all the alignment and arranging tools are huge timesavers. I remember back to the keystroke script routines that I believe Ira Perlow origionally created, that would create an outline for a button. I thought this was tremendous, as I didn’t have to sit there and type in all the lines and coloring to make a button look decent. I’m not trying to sound depreciatory of A4, but this is like comparing punch cards with hard drives……… ain’t no comparison.

    You mentioned the ease of switching databases in A4, in your reply to Robert. I think you are missing the point. A5’s database (a collection of what is called databases in A4), can contain tons of tables (I think the exact number is only limited by memory and disk space), and can have 100 open at any one time. A4 can open one at a time. This really is a huge issue and makes all kinds of things possible.

    Reports are equally easy to create, however A5 has a huge advantage in the richness of the output. Again, one could argue that all the options and tools in A5 make it more complex, but I would argue that the lack of tools and options in A4 is restrictive and limiting.

    For creating a quick and dirty database solution, probably a dead heat. For the ability to extend the solution, A5 has it hands down.

    The built in security, user and user grouping capabilities of A5 is a big deal.

    In general, the ability to manipulate system resourses, files, registry settings, etc. doesn’t really have a counterpart in A4. Variables can be save to a file and restored in the next session with A4, but that is about it if my memory serves me correctly.

    The keystroke scripting of A4 and the keystroke recorder is arguable easier than Xbasic, but is extremely limited. Alpha Five has an Xbasic recorder, which can record the Xbasic of your actions, which is similar in concept to the A4 keystroke recorder. Alpha Five has the Action Scripting Genie which is an absolutely incredible tool. There is nothing in A4 that corresponds to this. The Action Scripting Genie is a graphical code generator. It is a wonderful tool right now and is constantly being improved and extended. Also, Alpha Five can be extended by the user community. This ability has just made its appearance with the release of version 5 so we don’t see a ton of addins yet. I’m guessing that there are about 6 or 8 available right now. You can’t really extend A4, beyond purchasing some custom scripts (which really isn’t the same thing), that to my knowledge, are not being created now.

    Alpha Five is being extended, improved, and fine turned on a daily basis. The capabilities coming in the near future for Alpha Five are awesome.

    The list of features is almost endless, well at least it exceeds my willingness to type them all out :-)

    Although it may not fall within your definition of the non-power user, Xbasic is a tremendous tool that really has no comparable counterpart in A4. Xbasic /Xdialog is an extremely powerful full featured scripting language. I hope to see it running outside of the confines of Alpha Five some day. I believe Xbasic has approximately 2000 built-in functions, as well as the ability to create your own functions.

    Thanks for listening.

    Jim Chapman




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    Default RE: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Gents;
    Sorry I've been tardy in replying ... getting a tad hectic here. Thanks for all your input and consideration. Believe me, I do value all the points you make. And I know all of you have gone through (and been able to get past) the demons (and genies??) I can 't seem to overcome. Jim, I followed your progress from A4 to A5 in the articles you wrote for the old Alpha Forum. And Robert and Tom, I read your valuable contributions on the board every day.

    I had originally viewed my "contributions" to this thread to try and represent "the A4 everyman", but I sense that is being lost in the back and forth (and no other A4er has jumped in yet)so I'll get more personal.

    While it might not seem so from my posts, I am familiar with Windows apps ... I've been using them for 13 years, so any issues I have with A5 do not have to do with a fundamental lack of general familiarity with Windows. But I am very comfortable (obviously) with A4. I have used it almost every day (averagely 4-5 hours) for 11 years. And I can do amazing things with it, and I (and my partner) can do them amazingly quickly. So that's a big part of the problem, natch. We are a small, but very, very busy retail market research company, and Alpha is our main engine. A good part of printed output to clients is in A4 typeset reports. We have approximately 1 1/2 man days a month to create somewhere between 5 and 12 unique, sometimes very complicated reports for clients. Very little of what we do is ever done again. Most of what we do is one-offs. Thus speed and flexibility are key to our ability to produce. And A4 is great (even in typeset mode) for that. (We also use A4 in our extensive edit checking operations, but that's for another time). So being able to produce a wonderful "APP" that will be used over and over again is not our thing.

    Hence, since being so busy, we have never had enough time to really concentrate on A5. I am pretty sure that's the big problem (I mean we're slow learners, but not that slow!)We did, however, invest the time and travelled 3,000 miles round trip to attend the first Get Outta DOS seminar ... but ... we're still doin' it in A4. I have been "futzzing" around with A5 for over 5 years. I know the terminology and I know it's a great product (and I know Xdialog is a great tool, but you guys are trying to describe colour to a blind man.)

    I can say, in all honesty and humility, we find A5 very frustrating. We have managed to duplicate some simple reports that we had done in A4 in typeset in A5, but the length of time to accomplish this is unbelievable. So Jim, your comment that A5 is faster for creating output offers encouragement (but not much comfort). And Tom, your comment about A5v5s ability to convert reports to RTF and HTML is bang on. This was one of the key drivers I felt would finally get us to A5. We need to be able to do that. But gee, there's another whole frustrating experience ... hours before I could get a "good" conversion to RTF. But when I open it in MS Word, it's still far from perfect (shadows not there, letters and numbers out of place, on the next line) and HTML is definitely not ready for prime time.

    As part of our operations, we do a lot of (saved) importing from delimited text files, which we can never get to work (even using the beloved Genies) in A5. I gave up so long ago trying to make that work that I forget what the problem seemed to be.

    We're in Toronto, and Steve Workings is coming here to do A5 training and I was going to book into that for 3 days of "hands on", but they seem to have changed the dates, and that's going to be a problem. More frustration.

    So that's my vent for today ... not much for you to go on to help us out ...

    Thanks for listening,
    Duncan


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    Default RE: Wide Array of New Features in Ver 5

    Duncan,

    Thanks for the additional background. It sounds to me as though you're looking at things reasonably and realistically. Use the right tool for the job. It's a mistake to move to a different platform just because it's new.

    I sometimes think that Alpha Four is more 'mature' in some ways than Alpha Five. This shouldn't be surprising since DOS is so much older than Windows... and Windows has changed so much in the last 10 years.

    To me the relevant comparisons are not:

    Alpha Four vs. Alpha Five

    but

    Alpha Five vs. other Windows database managers


    When you hit the wall with Alpha Four and decide that you have to work in the Windows' environment Alpha Five will be a logical step for you. This will happen when you need to do something in Alpha Four that can't be done, or when the pain of doing it in Alpha Four exceeds the pain of moving to a new platform.


    -- tom

  12. #12
    Member
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    Mike Squyres
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    Default RE: What is the Real Question?

    Tom,

    You are quite correct. The questions being asked by so many A4 users concern a possible transition to A5 from powerful A4 applications into which they have invested many man years of development.

    The answers offered by the apostles of A5 usually address the advantages of a Windows interface over a DOS interface.

    The real dilemma faced by most experienced A4 folks is: if I want to convert my A4 applications to A5, I know that only my .dbf files will transfer, and I will have to re-create everything else. If I already have a working application which suits my needs, is it worth it to convert when the reward is defined only in terms of the benefits of gaining a Windows interface?

    Before A4V8, the argument for conversion included the Armageddon concept that A4 would not survive beyond the Windows 98 environment. A4V8 seems to acknowledge the real question posed above: there may not be many good reasons to make the transition from successful A4 applications unless you need Windows functionality vs. DOS.

    I think that most folks would agree that, if you were starting from scratch to develop database applications, you would probably be best advised to begin with A5, especially with a $99 price tag.


    Mike Squyres

  13. #13
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Tom Cone Jr
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    Default RE: What is the Real Question?

    Mike,

    I've recently heard someone say, in a different context, that change doesn't occur until the total cost of a change is less than the total cost of not changing. Similarly, I suppose it could be said that a change won't happen unless the benefits of changing outweigh the costs of standing pat.

    Both seem to have validity, though neither is comprehensive enough.

    This forum can help folks identify some of the hidden costs and some of the less than obvious benefits of making the change to Alpha Five. But, in the end, what works for one person should not necessarily be declare the only valid solution for everyone.

    -- tom

  14. #14
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    Duncan Greenshields
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    Default RE: What is the Real Question?

    Mike;
    I would find it hard to disagree with your comments. But, while A4v7 and V8 have made A4 workable in the post Win 98 world, I suspect they only postpone the inevitable, not prevent it.

    Having been an avid reader of this board for many years, I have seen many move to A5 from A4. As one of the few still largely on the "darkside" (i.e. "unenlighened", side), my sense is that all (or nearly all) who have successfuly mastered A5 don't come back, and that tells us something. They obviously feel A5 does indeed fill their needs better than A4.

    I would be curious to know how many people still use both A4 and A5, and if they do, is A4's use confined to legacy applications? Do they ever create anything "new" in A4? And if so, why? I suspect not, but I could be wrong.

    Duncan

  15. #15
    VAR davej's Avatar
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    Dave Jampole
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    Haughton, LA ( just east of Shreveport, Louisiana)
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    Default RE: What is the Real Question?

    Duncan,

    Speaking ONLY for myself, until recently I only supported an A4V6 application that I created about 12 years ago that is still merrily chugging along. My user is happy (and she doesn't handle new things very well), they get what they want, they do not have to absorb and more development cost.

    I have an A4V6 application that I started converting to A5V5 about 18 months ago because the IT department at my client's site kept bugging them to get the application upgraded. I've learned a LOT and this is a good income stream for me.

    I was recently contacted by someone in another state who had an A4V6 application on which they needed some upgrade work done. They do not want to convert to A5 for the best of reasons - the A4 application works! I'm having to dredge up whatever A4 knowledge I still have in my little brain to do what needs to be done, and let me tell you, it takes some thinking.

    Supporting legacy application while developing new ones in A5 is a challange that I wouldn't want to do on a regular basis, but I like the income it generates.

    As many developers have stated, I left the DOS (A4) world with my finger nails clawing all the way, but I would not go back full time. A5 (and the Windows environment) off too much that I like. I'll get over the bumps and produce what my clients want in A5. Like it or not, Windows is the way to go.

    Dave

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