Alpha Software Alpha Five 8

Alpha Five offers more choices for extending functions with scripts and Web software, but most users will likely want to spend the extra money for the more-intuitive FileMaker.

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now 78
Alpha Software Alpha Five 8
  • Alpha Software Alpha Five 8
  • Alpha Software Alpha Five 8
  • Alpha Software Alpha Five 8

Pros

  • Big developer community, wizards, dialog-box builder

Cons

  • Not as intuitive as FileMaker

Bottom Line

Alpha Five's extensive wizards and Web application development tools let you create custom database applications without pain or programming, at a relatively low cost.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 78 stores)

See all prices

Alpha Five Version 8 Professional does a good job of helping ordinary people create useful and good-looking database applications. Like FileMaker Pro 9, it lets you create desktop and Web databases for everything from e-mail marketing campaigns and online storefronts to media libraries and Christmas card lists. But the programs have different strengths: FileMaker is more intuitive, while Alpha Five offers more extensibility via scripts and Web apps.

Alpha Five 8 has a big developer community, but provides far fewer templates than FileMaker Pro 9. It has wizards for many tasks (called Genies), and a very good dialog-box builder. Nonprogrammers will be able to create quite powerful apps without scripting, although I had to spend a lot of time reading the help files and studying the examples; this program is not as intuitive as FileMaker.

Alpha Five looks sleek and polished, offering new layout tools that have been sorely lacking, such as gradient fills, as well as row colour and line styles in a tabular format. Also, you can add buttons and images that are conditional on other data in browse views. For example, you can add a button that, when clicked, sends an e-mail to the person in that row, or calls up their photo from a linked personnel database. Clicking on a browse column header can now sort the data, too. Forms with embedded browse views suddenly become both pretty and useful. According to the company, version 8 performs faster window-switching and quicker execution of script and code compared with the previous version.

Other major new features include a CSS style sheet builder for better Web form designs and a well-designed Web Security framework, which lets you define privileges for users and groups to pages or collections of pages in your Web application. For instance, teachers could enter and change the grades for their own classes, but only view the grades for other classes. Fields for sensitive data like credit card numbers can be hidden entirely from unauthorised users. Web applications could also perform a variety of other functions, serving, say, as a calendar, a reservation system, or a tool that calculates the quantity of supplies needed for a specific project.

Overall, Alpha Five is less expensive than FileMaker, but its high-end versions are especially so. Comparing list prices, Alpha Five Enterprise version with SQL support costs only $US349, compared with $499 for FileMaker Pro Advanced (however, even the $299 FileMaker Pro 9 offers SQL support). If you require many people to pitch in on the design of your database, you'll need FileMaker Server to get more than nine simultaneous client connections. Alpha Five's Application Server is more of a bargain at $399 for the basic version, compared with FileMaker Server's much heftier price tag.

FileMaker's somewhat easier learning curve, rich template library, SQL capabilities, and instant Web publishing make it the better choice for typical home and small-business users. Also, businesses in need of SQL support could benefit from that feature's presence in the Pro version. But Alpha Five has the clear edge in extending basic functions via script building and Web application development tools, and its lower cost of ownership makes it an attractive alternative.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Be the first to comment.

Post new comment

Users posting comments agree to the PC World comments policy.

Login or register to link comments to your user profile, or you may also post a comment without being logged in.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?