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View Poll Results: Should Alpha Five focus entirely on Webbased solutions?

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  • No, keep the desktop alive and increase the development at it.

    59 80.82%
  • Yes, stop desktop development and focus entirely on Web based solutions.

    14 19.18%
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Thread: Is there a future for desktop applications.

  1. #1
    "Certified" Alphaholic Marcel Kollenaar's Avatar
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    Default Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Hi,

    Reading all the new features of Alpha Five version 10 I'm wondering if there is a future for the development of desktop applications in Alpha Five. The enormous amount of time invested in web based utilities in version 9 and the new codeless ajax for the web based version 10 gives me the feeling that the desktop is some what "under developed" and more or less dead. Do not misunderstood me, I'm happy with the codeless feature of ajax.
    Last edited by Marcel Kollenaar; 06-16-2009 at 08:05 PM. Reason: minor change
    Marcel

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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Hi Marcel

    Interesting thoughts and no doubt a healthy debate will ensue!

    Personally I believe there is a place for both. However, increasingly I can see larger organisations opting for a web based option however smaller businesses will still have a need for desktop based systems. I can also see an increasing market for a hybrid of both technologies.

    Regards

    Glen
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Marcel,

    I think you are really hitting on the question that many developers have to be asking themselves. I am planning a new application and I am currently wrestling with the question of whether is should be web based only or if there should also be a desktop side. Of course if you are doing a custom application for a client, you give them what they want and are willing to pay for (one or the other or both).

    But if you are developing an application to resell to many (hopefully) customers then you as the developer have to gauge what the market for each of them is at this point. If you are just starting development then you have to try to gauge what the market will be a couple of years down the road. I would guess that the web based stuff is the future and to put a lot of development on the desktop side would not be worth it. Then of course you are taking the risk that the functionality you will need will be there.

    I am really interested to hear other more educated takes on this issue.

    Regards,

    Scott

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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Kollenaar View Post
    The enormous amount of time invested in web based utilities in version 9 and the new codeless ajax for the web based version 10 ...
    The way I view things would make the above statement incorrect. You have used the term "web based" twice in this sentence inferring that this is all for the world wide web. This is where I think most people are making a mistake. This is all "browser based" and that does not mean that it needs to be used on the web. Apps created for an intranet will offer similar functionality to the "desktop" applications that you now think are being forgotton about. It allows one to much more simply create multi-user applications that can now run on any machine or OS that you want - Windows, Mac, Windows Mobile, Linux, Unix, iPhone, etc. And if you decide to you want portions of your app visible to the outside world, by altering your security settings and not your app then it can be. And your application is now more client-server like with most everything taking place on the server. With those nice 64bit machines showing up and OS's that can use them with tons of memory, you now only need to upgrade one machine to get enormous benefits for all users. I think that the biggest difficulty for an A5 developer is knowing what the possiblilities are within the browser as most of us have not been doing html, java, ajax, etc. coding. Well I think for all of us to take the next step, that is exactly what we need to start doing. It appears that V10 is going to make alot of this easy to start adopting. However, just like coding for todays "desktop" apps, to get the maximum benefits requires us to learn more of the programming languages available like XBasic. Now we can add to our arsenal all the browser based programming techniques to allow us to do almost anything we currently can.

    So hopefully everyone can stop thinking of WAS programming as just something for the internet and start thinking of it as just a different way to get the job done. One that is much more flexible than the tools we have been using to date.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Hi,

    This topic has been on my mind as well for a long time. Time and time again I see that
    development efforts are taken to mimic the user-friendlyness of desktop applications and
    sure we're getting there however for many businesses web applications aren't the way to
    go.

    Accessing printer settings from a web application f.i. Printing on both sides was easy
    with windows applications since the application talks to the windows printer driver, puts
    the printer in recto/verso mode and off you go. Not so with internet explorer/firefox
    whatever your flavour of the browser is. ... Printing HTML reports ? Where is the pagebreak ?
    oh, there is none... hopefully you're using the A4 format in your printer.

    I'm sure that there is still a need for desktop applications however the decision to develop
    for the desktop is easier overruled these days because 'it's all web in the first place syndrome'.

    Do we need to mention the technical difficulties of users modifying the same data ? Keeping
    track of state with connection-less software ?

    I used to develop for a client/server software package called Vantive. That's a long time ago.
    You had a client and a server part. The business logic was developed in a VBA-like language,
    The scripts in VBA were located in the database. Updating business logic was easy

    Then I moved to Peoplesoft, the same phylosophy, client / server - business logic in scripts
    located in the database. Installation was easy, not a lot of patches for the client, patches
    or change requests needed to be deployed in the database and everybody had the latest version.

    Then Peoplesoft moved over to the web. The same methods still applied but it's much more error
    prone. Users closing the browser without saving ... no message will be displayed when you close
    the browser. Locking of users on an application level is virtual impossible since you don't know
    what the actions of the user will be in a internet browser ... etc...

    No, still the use of desktop application should be stressed but maybe more in a hybrid way. Why
    not use the HTTP protocol to handle transactions from a desktop application ? The webserver could
    deliver XML that defines how the screens should look like... there is plenty of innovation
    opportunities that are not addressed yet.

    I could go on but now it's all about ajax, Adobe Air, Silverlight, Google Gears... etc...

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Let me put my 2 cents, actually with the new economy in mind let me say My 2 gallons of gas: Steven and Doug you are both correct. We need to think with new ideas.
    We already have learned the old ways, Why not embrace the new technology?
    My vote is keep both, at least for a while.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    This is a great question.

    I have only done a small amount of app development, but it seems to me that despite all of the advances for the web app development (and I agree - it's really "browser based"), you can still build a more user friendly, ascetically pleasing app for the desktop. That being said, I don't know where desktop development has to go in order to grow. The development tools seem fully matured. I'd have a hard time coming up with a list of things I wished that I could do in a desktop app that I can't. Not so for the web - I could make a list as long as my arm. But, the momentum is clearly in web development and it's catching up fast.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    I think the poll is too black and white...

    Hybrid apps, at least for the near future, are a big selling point for Alpha.

    For certain I would like to have the Alpha developer program as a PC program. I would never like to develop on a program in the cloud (like wavemaker). I can now develop on my laptop when I am in a plane (me in the clouds).

    There will certainly stay a need for Desktop applications (f.i. heavy processor demanding apps), but for all the rest, I think web based apps are the future. No hazzle anymore with PC installations and roll out.

    regards, Ron

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    I am much more on the web based side than desktop but I do believe a good mix of well-interacting hybrid apps is the way to go, especially more interaction between desktop and web components of the same project.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Kollenaar View Post
    The enormous amount of time invested in web based utilities in version 9 and the new codeless ajax for the web based version 10 gives me the feeling that the desktop is some what "under developed" and more or less dead.
    Hi Marcel,

    I haven't opted "in" to your poll. I feel you posed the questions a little one-sided. There is an inherent bias embedded in the questions. You are suggesting an "either/or" scenario. Maybe you didn't mean it that way, but that's the way the questions are stated. I think a more objective way to state the questions would be something like this:
    • Would you prefer that Alpha focused most of their effort on desktop applications and functionality?
    • Would you prefer that Alpha focused most of their effort on web based applications and functionality?
    • Would you prefer that Alpha more or less evenly divided their effort between desktop applications/functionality and web based applications/functionality?
    I'm not criticizing you, just pointing out what I see as a polling flaw.

    P.S. I would be curious to see Alpha's sales statistics. It may be that the majority of new sales are web based interests?
    Last edited by Peter.Greulich; 06-17-2009 at 12:36 PM. Reason: P.S.

  11. #11
    Member NicholasWieland's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    All are correct!

    I believe that the "INTRANET APPS" are hybrid in nature.

    • deployment is easy
    • updates one place
    • allows workers to work from home without - logmein, gotomeeting fee.
    • allows any operating system to use, windows, linus, unix, mac etc.
    • connects smart phone technology to use Alpha


    The major players in the industry are betting on offsite computing and datacenters to be off site and you will be paying for the use of an app by month no updates smaller IT departments etc.

    Does that calculate to the small and medium size businesses?
    Not really but they would save money too.
    Intranets Applications are where we all need to go.
    Desktop in decline. I see the desktop maybe for ftp downloads file transfers etc.. and that will make some areas that maybe needed to be easier but browsers are going to be the future!

    Those on desktop only better come over to the Intranet side and Alpha has given you just that ability, so start in.

    Liquid Forms! Oh baby.

    Good Luck
    Nicholas Wieland

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    Volunteer Moderator Peter.Greulich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Page View Post
    This is all "browser based" and that does not mean that it needs to be used on the web. Apps created for an intranet will offer similar functionality to the "desktop" applications that you now think are being forgotton about. It allows one to much more simply create multi-user applications that can now run on any machine or OS that you want - Windows, Mac, Windows Mobile, Linux, Unix, iPhone, etc. And if you decide to you want portions of your app visible to the outside world, by altering your security settings and not your app then it can be.
    Great point(s), Doug. One could have a single user browser based app - if you want. The web or browser based applications may not be the be-all/end-all of computer functionality, but they do provide a lot of advantages (as you state).


    Quote Originally Posted by Steven P. View Post
    ... Printing HTML reports ? Where is the pagebreak ?
    oh, there is none... hopefully you're using the A4 format in your printer.
    Well, sure, but you would probably print to PDF, which Alpha does automatically in v10.

    Do we need to mention the technical difficulties of users modifying the same data ? Keeping track of state with connection-less software ?
    ...
    The same methods still applied but it's much more error prone. Users closing the browser without saving ... no message will be displayed when you close the browser. Locking of users on an application level is virtual impossible since you don't know what the actions of the user will be in a internet browser ... etc...

    No, still the use of desktop application should be stressed but maybe more in a hybrid way.
    Steven,

    You make good points too. The desktop is far from "dead" and may never be. Who knows? But one thing is clear, the computing world continues to rapidly evolve, and for now, at least, the web is in the forefront of that - and so is Alpha.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    The ability to do the desktop side shouldn't go away tomorrow.
    It has a place. But, no doubt in my mind - as the days and years pass,
    the web side becomes more important, while the desktop side becomes less important.

    And I would make the same argument for - embedded, file-based databases.
    As time passes, less and less solutions make sense with an embedded, file-based database, and more and more solutions - even small ones - make sense with an actual database engine.
    Frank R

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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    There needed to be at least one more choice to the poll:

    1. No, keep the desktop alive and increase the development at it.
    2. Yes, stop desktop development and focus entirely on Web based solutions.

    3. Going forward, focus more on the web side than the desktop side
    Frank R

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    "Certified" Alphaholic mmaisterrena's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Sorry but there's no long term future for desktop applications, Browsers will be our Operating Systems by 2016, so we better act upon this. Software will depend less and less on the power of our Personal Computers and more on the power of servers , clusters of servers and the infamous Cloud,

    Its a new way of thinking.. to putt it simple: why have the same "Word Document" on 1000000 different hard drives when we can just share that 1 Document and even interact collaboratively with it.

    I even think that alpha5 will be web-based by version 13 (how ever its called). they will use their own technology to do this in the same way they used xbasic to make the current version of alpha.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Hi,

    If computing power will be less important, what business model will there be left for chip companies like intel and AMD where faster is better. The lifecycle of computers in companies will increase from 3 to 15 years since the browser is all we need ?

    I honestly think with this kind of premise, the hardware world and inevitably the software world, will shoot itself in the foot. I don't believe in Cloud computing, since I want to have control over my data instead of leaving it in the hands of some corporations (such as google) that can use it for their purposes whatever they may entail.

    Time will tell I would say but if computing power will only be necessary for playing games like Crysis 2 or Prototype, the future for hardware will surely be bleak.

    Cheers
    Steven

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    "Certified" Alphaholic mmaisterrena's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    I think hardware vendors will concentrate on potable stuff like smartphones, netbooks etc (isnt this all ready heppening?) and the other side is that more powerfull servers will be needed.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    In my view the "cloud" environment has a major major drawback for some businesses as a result of which I can see it never working in some if not many areas.

    I am talking about that dreaded legal and often "stay in business" issue known as data protection.

    The legal requirements for the control of personal sensitive information means that in some industries they will NEVER store data somewhere where they do not have complete control.

    Take the financial services industry here in the UK. Recent legislative changes require the storage of records for LIFE. It used to be that records had to be kept for a few years after a contract or policy ended. The immediate effect of this is that the sheer volume of physical storage of paperwork is going up and up. It is however allowed for records to be stored electronically BUT the responsibility for the security of the data (in ANY format) lies with the registered individual or firm that sold or services that client.

    I am a registered individual (licenced by the Financial Services Authority) and there is no way am I gong to place myself in a vulnerable position of having data somewhere in internet land (and I have not even mentioned the other legal issues over storage of such data outside the borders of the European Union!)

    The document archive system I am developing therefore needs to be as secure as possible and involves the ongoing scanning and electronic storage of a massive amount of data. Yes this could be done via a web based system within an Intranet environment. But many such licensed individuals do not operate in such environments, working on stand alone systems. There is plenty of scope and life yet in desktop based systems.

    On a related note there have been several instances over here in recent times of laptops and disks/usb sticks being stolen containing sensitive personal data (often from public/government organisations. ) As a result of this we are being practically forced down the road of having whole disk encryption on all hard disks. That is not a cheap option at all!
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    "Certified" Alphaholic mmaisterrena's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    I agree that the cloud isnt for every one. but that doesnt means that they wont be using servers or clusters of servers internally (intanet) and that they will be using Web Based software on their browser OS, I think that Is just a matter of time (not much time)

    *Google might be the next Microsoft

    On a related note there have been several instances over here in recent times of laptops and disks/usb sticks being stolen containing sensitive personal data (often from public/government organisations. ) As a result of this we are being practically forced down the road of having whole disk encryption on all hard disks. That is not a cheap option at all!
    This wouldnt be necesary if all the info was on an internal server
    Last edited by mmaisterrena; 06-18-2009 at 12:16 PM.

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    "Certified" Alphaholic glenschild's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by mmaisterrena View Post
    This wouldnt be necesary if all the info was on an internal server
    Sorry you are wrong. A recent case of a stolen server resulted in a very hefty fine because the data was not encrypted.
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    "Certified" Alphaholic mmaisterrena's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Is cheaper tu encrypt 1 hard drive than 1,000.

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    "Certified" Alphaholic glenschild's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by mmaisterrena View Post
    Is cheaper tu encrypt 1 hard drive than 1,000.
    That is very true and for those in that position fine, but many are individually registered and use laptops as they are needed.

    Nevertheless this is getting away from my main point which was that desktop requirements will be around for a long while yet.

    Kind regards

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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    The following article has appeared on the BBC web site today. The very last sentence of the article sums up why I take data protection VERY seriously. I guess this serves notice to all that develop applications on the web. I know the UK Data Protection laws are very stringent but I am sure they are equally tough in other locations!

    news article
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Another 2 cents -
    David Shaw
    Manager of Media Services and User Support
    Cleveland Museum of Art
    Cleveland, Ohio

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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by glenschild View Post
    The following article has appeared on the BBC web site today. The very last sentence of the article sums up why I take data protection VERY seriously. I guess this serves notice to all that develop applications on the web. I know the UK Data Protection laws are very stringent but I am sure they are equally tough in other locations!

    news article
    I can understand your point completely as it pertains to the internet. However, in reading the question posed at the beginning of this poll, I interpret it as which is more important for development purposes - the desktop tools or the browser based tools. As I mentioned in my previous post, too many people assume that browser based development tools are only for the INTERNET. That's absolutely incorrect! I read from your comments that this appears to be how you view these tools as well. But try thinking about what benefits/disadvantages are there if you use these tools for internal apps. What are your thoughts about this scenario?

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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Page View Post
    The way I view things would make the above statement incorrect. You have used the term "web based" twice in this sentence inferring that this is all for the world wide web. This is where I think most people are making a mistake. This is all "browser based" and that does not mean that it needs to be used on the web.
    .....

    So hopefully everyone can stop thinking of WAS programming as just something for the internet and start thinking of it as just a different way to get the job done. One that is much more flexible than the tools we have been using to date.
    I agree. I meant browser based.
    Marcel

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  27. #27
    "Certified" Alphaholic Marcel Kollenaar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by rleunis View Post
    I think the poll is too black and white...
    Yes, and as Peter further on the thread also stated is to biased, the people however interpreted it very well and the every response is welcome.
    Marcel

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    "Certified" Alphaholic Marcel Kollenaar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter.Greulich View Post
    Hi Marcel,

    I haven't opted "in" to your poll. I feel you posed the questions a little one-sided. There is an inherent bias embedded in the questions. You are suggesting an "either/or" scenario. Maybe you didn't mean it that way, but that's the way the questions are stated. ...

    I'm not criticizing you, just pointing out what I see as a polling flaw.
    You are right. I made the poll late in the evening and the next morning after a good sleep I realized the same you stated. The next time I'll formulate the question more precise.

    Your criticism is always welcome.
    Marcel

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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Hi Doug

    Yes I accept it has an internet slant. I can definitely see a place for browser based solutions in an intranet environment especially where many potential users are involved but I guess what I am really saying is that the demise of the desktop based applications is still a long way away!

    There are people on this board still using the dos based Alpha Four, because it works! Smaller based businesses still have a need for standalone systems.

    Don't get me wrong I am not anti WAS far from it, I am developing in that environment where appropriate and v10 os going to really advance things!

    Regards

    Glen
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    "Certified" Alphaholic Marcel Kollenaar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there a future for desktop applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankR View Post
    There needed to be at least one more choice to the poll:

    1. No, keep the desktop alive and increase the development at it.
    2. Yes, stop desktop development and focus entirely on Web based solutions.

    3. Going forward, focus more on the web side than the desktop side
    Yes, as I told above already I agree that the poll could be better formulated.
    Marcel

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