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Alpha gets RAD for Web 2.0

The big IDEa

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Web 2.0 is no different to most other new technologies in one significant respect: in the rush to arrive at something that achieves tangible results, there is always the chance that a hotch-potch of different, often incompatible technologies get banged together. It is only later that the difficulties in making them work together effectively and easily over the long term start to emerge.

This is not a criticism of Web 2.0, just a fact of life in its development cycle, and one that has to be addressed some time or another. That is the target that Alpha Software had set itself, with what it claims is an applications development environment that gives developers (in the widest possible sense) a unified, end-to-end development environment that can generate robust, scalable, portable applications for most of the major platforms — including Web 2.0, SaaS, distributed enterprise, client-server, SQL database, and the Windows desktop.

The beast in question is Alpha Five Version 8, a Rapid Application Development (RAD) toolset that aims to bring back the development speed it claims has been lost with the arrival of Web 2.0 and SaaS solutions. The company's aim has been to roll the XBASIC language, WYSIWYG GUI design, fast programming speed, easy debugging, security and highly evolved database reporting into a single IDE.

It claims to have produced a breakthrough that allows SQL source code to work unchanged with any enterprise database, making it a portable, standards-compliant SQL implementation that enables database developers to build once, and deploy anywhere, migrating from one SQL database to another with minimum code changes. Portable SQL automatically adapts its syntax to the database it connects to, including Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, InterSystems' Cache, Microsoft Access, and Excel. The toolset includes an integrated Report Builder and a Web Security Framework, which is aimed at making applications access definition and management much easier for both developers and administrators. Access rights can be set for users, groups, and even individual pages, with no coding required.

Fully-functional trial versions can be downloaded here. The Professional Edition retails for $249, while upgrades for registered users cost $179. The Enterprise Edition is $349, or $249 for upgrades, while the Server Basic is $499 ($299 for upgrades), and the Application Server Enterprise is $699 ($499 for upgrades). ®

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