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Thread: Switch to Access?

  1. #1
    John Stevens
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    Default Switch to Access?

    A year ago when we contracted with a consultant to design a database for us, he suggested that we use Alpha 5. This suited us fine because we were using Alpha 4 at the time. He told me then that A5v5 was due to be released soon. At that time he said that it was already past it's initial ship date.

    That was a year ago.....

    There are several features that we NEED such as spell checking, e-mail capability, better memo fields, RTF memo fields that work, etc.

    Does anyone know when or if A5v5 will ever be released? Does anyone know if Alpha Software is solvent? Should I be running as fast as I can to find someone to port our application into MicroSoft Access?

    Any ideas?

    John

  2. #2
    Thomas Henkel
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    John,
    Alpha Software is VERY solvent. Version 5 is a giant leap from other versions, especially ver 4. Even in ver 1, we have been able to finagle a way to get an e-mail out. Alpha 5 is so much mre flexible and powerful than Access, I don't understand why anyone, especially an alpha4 user would even think to go to Access. Version 5 is very close to release. Unlike Microsoft, Selwyn and Co. want to release a product that is as bug free as possible.

  3. #3
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    >> There are several features that we NEED such as spell checking, e-mail capability, better memo fields, RTF memo fields that work, etc.

  4. #4
    John Stevens
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    Thomas,

    I am not a programmer, just a user. I don't know about, or even care about, how easy it is to program or to "finagle" things to make them work.

    I need a working application (not Alpha 5 (software)), but the application that has been custom designed for us using A5 as a platform. Someone else responded suggesting that I go to code archives and websites to research how to force this application do what I want. Not me, I am not a programmer. The consultant that we worked with is unwilling to proceed any further (I don't think he can handle it, saw posts on this website with him screaming that he was going to get fired because he couldn't solve his customers problems).

    I need A5 to solve these problems for us. I was hoping someone would have some good news about its' release.

    Thanks for your response.

    John

  5. #5
    Tom Scholis
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    John,

    Let me start by saying that I am in no way affiliated with Alpha Software Corp.
    In other words, this is an independent view. I've been using Alpha 4 since
    around 1982 (yes, 20 years) and Alpha 5 since 1995ish. Based on this long-term
    relationship I can't say that I've never wished that something was different.
    But "all things considered" this is a fine company and a great if not
    important product to me.

    I'm a financial systems manager for an online college with 19,000 students.
    We're an online college so our information needs are truly mission critical.
    Over the years I've worked for some major and minor companies and they've
    always been pleased with what "Alpha" could do on short notice.

    Unlike a lot of people who gripe about Microsoft Access, I could care less about
    what Gates does except that the company, in my opinion, has really beat up
    its competition. Maybe that's why people post questions like yours. I'm
    sure you didn't mean this to have negative implications but it does and perhaps
    you could take a minute to explain that. You seem like a fair minded person and
    I'm just worried when people ask about a companies financial health when they could get the answer elsewhere.

    If your worried because of Lord Gates or the fact that tech support isn't what
    it used to be, let me just add that that's an industry problem and hardly
    unique to Alpha Software. A5 is valued product with a great feature set
    for the money and the best ease of use I've seen in an arena that
    is inherently technical. That's an educated opinion. Good luck with your
    decision.

  6. #6
    Thomas Henkel
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    John,

    I am not a consultant, but I am sure that there are numerous ones that see this website who would be willing to take on the challenge of completing your application. It seems that your "consultant" wasn't really worth his salt. Some of the applications I have seen posted here are nothing short of amazing.

    What I am getting at is "don't blame the tool" for an incompetent craftsman. In the hands of a talented programmer or consultant, the capabilities of Alpha Software are boundless. Using version 1.02 of alpha5, we are running our county social services agency. We have nearly 300 users and almost every aspect of our business is being processed through some type of Alpha software interface.

    Tom Henkel

  7. #7
    Former Alpha Employee JerryBrightbill's Avatar
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    John,

    Unfortunately, your situation is far too common. The problem is not with the basic development program, but with how the product was used to create a "finished" application. Some developers are better than others and are willing to tackle tough jobs, for a price.

    Almost 20 years ago, I got into development because a developer was unwilling or unable to make some basic changes in what was actually a very good program my company was using. Recently, I was asked to develop an application in Alpha to replace one done in Access. Access is a fine and powerful program, but it is not easy to use or master. The program I was replacing was developed by an Access "expert" who made his living with Access. I was amazed at how clumsy the application was and how crude it was. Then I learned the developer was given limited resources to work with, both in time and funding.

    Alpha Software products are very powerful and easy to use, but if you are relying on others, you are at the mercy of their expertise, not necessarily limitations of the Alpha programs. We all want more features (especially the ones you asked about!), but as others have posted, the current version can do more than most people are aware of.

    Check out various developers listed on the Alpha Software site and get references. Be very specific about what you need and try to verify that the developer can deliver. We all sometimes hit the brick wall in development, regardless of expertise, but this program is unique in that this forum exists. The knowledge found here in unparalleled.

    Jerry

  8. #8
    John Stevens
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    Thank you all for your responses. I was asking about Alpha's viability as a company because, as the President of a company that manufactures industrial machinery, I understand the product rollout process. When a company announces that a product will be introduced on a certain date, it is expected that the actual rollout will be near that date.

    When the projected dates are missed over and over it usually means one of two things:

    1. There are major problems that were unforseen that need to be overcome. If this is the case, many times the product is never introduced because of the costs involved in redesigning what may be a doomed product.

    2. The company is in serious financial trouble and they keep announcing product launches to convince people that they are viable. If they did not do this, orders would dry up so fast it would make your head spin.

    Please don't take this wrong. I am applying my knowledge of one industry into another where the rules may be completely different. I am not bashing Alpha, who seem to have made a fine product, as I said, I don't program the thing, I just work within the user interface designed for us.

    I was only asking because we need to have these new features and we were "promised" by our "consultant" that they would be coming soon. I appreciate the support that I get from this board, and have made some changes to the program myself.

    Unfortunately, I can't comment on ease of use. If you had never used our competitors products, you would never know, understand, or appreciate how easy our product is to use. I am sure, based on the positive comments that I have heard here that it is an outstanding product.

    Thanks again for your helpful responses. Maybe someday I can learn to program with A5.

    John

  9. #9
    "Certified" Alphaholic forskare's Avatar
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    Hi John,

    Your questions are good questions to ask and have been asked before. If you do switch to Access, there will be a bigger learning curve. (Been there, done that) Do you have that much down time? If you hire a Access consultant, you might as well hire a proficient Alpha consaultant. I know a few who are expremely proficient and will send their names to you if you email me. (No, I'm not in that catagory, maybe some day)

    A conference will be held the end of next week. Believe me, we're all waiting for the red capret to be rolled out. And when it is, ....well' I'm licking my chpos now.

    kenn

  10. #10
    Volunteer Moderator Peter.Greulich's Avatar
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    John,
    I too am in no way affiliated with Alpha Software Corp. Having monitored this and previous iterations of this board over the last 5-7 years(?) it appears to me that Alpha is quite solvent. There was a time several years ago (around ver. 3, I think) when Alpha was extricating itself from Softquad. At that time there was some question in the minds of many of the viability of Alpha. But that issue was successfully resolved way back when. Ver. 5 is way behind the original scheduled release of year 2000, but in my estimation it is very close to release. Now it's just a matter of killing whatever bugs remain...
    Peter

  11. #11
    "Certified" Alphaholic forskare's Avatar
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    "Polishing Touches" and that's a quote.

    kenn

  12. #12
    Member Mike Konoff's Avatar
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    Kenn,

    You know the release date?

    Mike

  13. #13
    "Certified" Alphaholic forskare's Avatar
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    I wish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, How I wish!!!!!!!

    However, I really believe they're close. I'm still hopin' for conference time but.......how long will it take to polish-n-wax??? Well, it otta be real interesting!

    Just my own opinion.

    kenn

  14. #14
    Member
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    Default RE: Switch to Access?

    Hi John:

    I think you asked some important questions, many of us wonder about the same issues. For now, I think you should focus on your options, allow me to give you a few things to consider. I’m sure there are reasons I cannot remember right now, but here we go. Let me preface my comments by stating Access is an excellent application that will do the job for you, however, using Alpha Five brings some powerful advantages.

    [1] A5 has much greater built in functionality. Why is that important? Because development time in Access is generally twice or even three times longer than the same feature set with A5. That means the cost of the application will double or triple for you when using Access developers.

    [2] You can do things with A5 you cannot do with Access. More importantly, much of that functionality [as mentioned above] is actually built in so you can actually do it WITHOUT PROGRAMMING. You can do many similar things, but not all, in Access only with some serious hours of heavy-duty programming. Why go through all of those headaches when you can simply click on pre-built options in A5? It will certainly save you lots of time and money.

    [3] This support forum is the best you can find and it is free.

    [4] If Alpha Software did go out of business in the near future, it would definitely be a major blow, no doubt about that. However, even if the company went out of business tomorrow, you could still maintain your A5 application for many years.

    [5] A5 uses the dbf format. That means if Alpha Software went out of business, you could simply and seamlessly import your company’s data into Access and build the same application. Incidentally, both Access and A5 use a very similar paradigm, so many of the application design features will work with both applications.

    [6] Why not use the BEST tool for your needs? As stated above, Access is a good product but Alpha Five is far and away the best PC database application money can buy.

    Robert Tishkevich

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