Since version 5, Alpha 5 has less emphasis on standalone databases, and more on Web applications. Alpha Five v10 Developer lets you create Web apps that are Ajax based, even if you don’t have much programming experience. Even those it’s intended for those without much skill in coding, it’s still not a walk in the park for your average user. Getting the maximum out of it requires a decent knowledge of tables, forms, fields, and databases. Lacking that, it would take both patience and time to master. Luckily, there are great help resources on Alpha Software’s website, as well as in the software itself. If you’re not a programming expert, you’ll probably need some assistance to get started.
Alpha Five v10 has a number of options for desktop and Web environments. Alpha Five v10 Developer is the standard. There are also Alpha V Runtime, for deploying desktop applications, Alpha Five v10 Application Server, with a module server for the deployment of Web applications, and the All-In-One bundle. Each edition of Alpha Five v10 is compatible with Windows 2008 Server, Windows 2003 Server, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.
Alpha Five v10 doesn’t have quite the userfriendliness of FileMaker Pro 11, which walks you through every aspect of creating databases in a point-and-click environment. Alpha Five v10 makes use of wizards, which they call Genies, for a lot of tasks, in a way similar to Microsoft Access.
Actually, Access makes a better comparison to Alpha Five v10 than either Intuit’s QuickBase or Filemaker, as it also takes you fairly soon into obscure areas – data types, table fields, and other advanced development and database concepts. Both Filemaker and QuickBase are great for putting a database together quickly, and basic database design, but neither offer the level of control that Alpha Five v10 does.
If you have experience with SQL, Crystal Reports, and Front Page, you should have no problems. Novices shouldn’t necessarily be discouraged, but the learning curve for Alpha Five is pretty steep.
The impetus behind Alpha Five v10 Developer is Ajax, which is a group of Web development technologies used for creating Web applications with interactivity. Some well-known sites that were created using Ajax are Microsoft’s Live.com, Google Maps, Box.net and Gmail. Ajax isn’t only for the tech giants, though; many smaller businesses use Ajax applications to add chat functionality, visitor polls, and other features to their websites.