Alpha Five V9
- Welcome to Alpha Five V9.
- Videos of Selected Features for V9
- Active-Link Tables
- Creating Multiple Tables
- Creating a Single Table
- Using an Active-Link Table
- Heterogeneous Joins
- SQL Query Genie
- Optimistic Record Locking
- Smart Fields
- User Defined Smart Fields
- Static HTML Objects
- HTML Bubble Help
- Defining HTML Bubble Help
- Vertical Scroll Bar
- Browse Layout Controls
- Dynamic Guidelines
- Mapped Tables
- HTML Memo Fields
- Web Applications
- Date Fields
- HTML Form Supercontrols
- Hyperlink Supercontrol
- Record Navigator Supercontrol
- Embedded Xdialog Supercontrol
- Report Preview Supercontrol
- Clock Supercontrol
- Calendar Supercontrol
- PDF Viewer Supercontrol
- Web Content Supercontrol
- Export to SQL Databases
- AlphaDAO Export Builder
- Interactive Reporting
- Field Rules
- Table Lookups
- Embedded Statusbar
- Embedded Browse Layouts
- User-Defined Dock Panels
Improvements from Alpha Five V9.
This version of Alpha Five offers a number of features that make Alpha Five both powerful and easy to use. A signature feature of this release is 'active-link' tables, which allows you to build enterprise class applications against SQL databases. Even if you don't use SQL databases, you will still find lot's of exciting new features in V9. This document describes all of the features in Version 9. We hope you enjoy reviewing it as much as we have enjoyed creating V9! Many of the descriptions of the new features are accompanied by video demonstrations. For a quick overview of what's new, we suggest that you start on the 'Videos of Selected New Features?' page. V9 is available in two editions, 'Platinum' and 'Standard'. The 'Standard' edition includes all of the features of the 'Platinum' edition with the following exceptions:
- Available in Standard Edition?
- Active-Link tables
- Passive-Link tables
Included, but limited to connections to Access and Excel
- AlphaDAO (Alpha Software's technology for connecting to and working with SQL databases)
Included, but limited to connections to Access and Excel
- ADO (Microsoft's technology for connecting to and working with SQL databases)
- Export to SQL Databases
Included, but limited to Access and Excel.
- Import from SQL Databases using AlphaDAO
Included, but limited to Access and Excel.
- Imported from SQL Databases using ADO
The What's New in Version 9 document contains video demonstrations of some of the new features in Version 9. Links to these videos appear throughout the document. The available videos are all summarized below.
Active-link tables allow you to work with data in remote SQL databases. Active-link tables are like regular Alpha Five tables in that you can create Form, Reports, Operations, etc. using them. When you create active-link tables, you can either use a batch operation that creates multiple tables at once (using defaults for the various options), or you can create them one at a time, which allows you to customize the active-link table. If you choose the 'multiple' option, you can always go back and edit an individual active-link table's definition. This video shows how you can create active-link tables for all of the tables in a remote database in a single step.
This video shows how the active-link table builder works and shows all of the various properties that can be customized. For example, you may want to use stored procedures to write data back to the remote table.
This video shows that the active-link table shows the data in the remote SQL table and that edits made in the active-link table are immediately persisted to the remote table. The video also shows the power of connection strings. By editing the connection string, you can change the remote database that all of the active-link tables in your application point to.
A powerful feature of Alpha Five is the ability to create Forms and Reports that join data from multiple remote SQL databases. In this video we show an example of an Order Header table which is stored in SQL Server, and an Order Detail table which is stored in MySQL. An Alpha Five set is built that joins these two tables and a Form based on this Set allows us to edit and enter data into both databases.
The SQL Query Genie allows you to filter and sort an active-link table. The Query Genie is 'two way' - which means that you can either use the builder to create the query, or you can type it in directly, and it will be parsed and shown in the builder so that you can continue editing in the builder.
When working with active-link tables, Alpha Five uses a technique called 'optimistic record locking' to prevent one user from inadvertently overwriting changes made by another users. Contrast this with 'pessimistic record locking' - the technique used when two or more users want to edit the same record in a native Alpha Five table. In 'pessimistic record locking' when one user begins to edit a record, the record is locked, preventing the second user from editing. This video show how optimistic record locking works for an active-link table.
Time fields and short-time fields can now be turned into 'smart' fields. When you click on the icon in the field a picker is displayed to allow you to select a value.
You can now turn any field on a form or browse into a smart field. You can define your own icon for the smart field and you can define the associated event code when the user clicks on the smart field icon.
Static HTML Objects are conceptually like the static RTF objects that you have always been able to place on Layouts. However, the layout capabilities of the static HTML Object go way beyond what the RTF object offers. You have the full power of HTML to style the text in a static HTML object. You can also place fields in the object to show data from the current record, and hyperlinks that execute Xbasic scripts.
Browse columns now have bubble help. The bubble help can be defined using HTML syntax and can include data from the current record. This video shows bubble help for an thumbnail image. When the mouse is over the image the full size image is shown.
In this video we show how easy it is to create advanced bubble help that includes data, images from the current record and hyperlinks to invoke Xbasic events.
The size of the slider on the vertical scroll bar is now proportional to the number of records in the table and its position is now proportional to the logical position of the record in the table. Also, when you drag on the vertical slider, bubble help shows the key value of the record that would get focus if you were to stop dragging.
When you are editing a Browse layout (stand alone and embedded), you can now insert 'Browse Layout Controls' in the browse. There are several types of Browse Layout Controls, such as buttons to open forms, run reports, run scripts, and insert icons. In this video we use a Browse Layout control to put hyperlinks in a browse column that open a form to show the current record.
In the second video we put a dynamic icon in a browse column. We have a browse showing customers. Each customer has a credit rating between 0 and 5. We put a dynamic icon in a browse column that shows a 'five star' icon for customers with a rating of 5, a 'four star' icon for customers with a rating of 4 and so on.
Editing layouts is now much easier because dynamic guidelines are displayed when you move or resize an object. These guidelines make it very easy to align an object relative to adjacent objects.
In the case of reports, dynamic guidelines are particularly useful because they make it very easy to align column headings, detail section fields, and column footings.
Mapped tables are a new feature that allow you to define virtual tables that display data from one or more linked physical tables. The mapped table can include all, or a subset of, the fields in the physical tables and can also include calculated columns. Mapped tables appear in the Control Panel just like any other table. You can build Forms, Reports, Operations, etc. on Mapped Tables, just as you would on physical tables and set. All of the standard Xbasic commands for working with tables can be used with Mapped tables.
Alpha Five has always has plain text memo fields and Rich Text (RTF) memo fields. Now, you can create HTML memo fields. HTML memo fields offer much more formatting power than RTF memos and they allow you to include rich media types, such as images, videos, and hyperlinks in your memos.
It has always been possible to specify that date fields in Grid and Dialog components have associated date pickers. Previously, when you clicked the icon to open the date picker, a new window was opened, which was relatively slow. Now, when you click on the icon, the date picker opens up instantly.
The second video demonstrates how AJAX techniques can be used to validate the data in a form. When the form's Submit button is pressed, data in the form is sent to the callback page and validated. Errors are written back to the page, and are displayed without a page reload.
The third video demonstrates how AJAX techniques are used to implement cascading dropdown boxes. We show a form with a State, City and Customer dropdown box. When the user selects a state, the city dropdown box is dynamically repopulated, and when the user selects a city, the customer dropdown box is repopulated. When the user selects a customer, the customer information is displayed on the page, where it can be updated and saved.
Next, we demonstrate how you can use AJAX to implement 'suggestion' lists as the user types into a textbox. We show how, as you type a name into a city field, AJAX callbacks can be used to present a list of cities that start with the characters you have typed. The video also shows filtered suggestions - where the suggestion list is filtered by the value in some other control you set on the page.
This video shows the same techniques, but this time using SQL Server as the data source for the suggestion list.
This video shows how you can implement a tree control that uses AJAX callbacks to dynamically populate the tree. The tree control is implemented using the powerful new 'tree control' object in the 'Alpha Five Ajax Forms Library'. The video shows a tree that is dynamically populated with a list of unique state names from a customer table. When the user expands a state node in the tree, a callback dynamically populates the tree with a list of cities in that state. When the user expands a city node, another callback dynamically populates the tree with a list of customers in that city. Finally, when the user clicks on a customer name, the record for that customer is shown.
This next video shows how you can use Xbasic to code a grid that uses AJAX callbacks to get desktop application like performance for a Grid.
Next, we demonstrate a tutorial page that is intended to highlight the basic building blocks of an AJAX application. Several of the functions in the Alpha Five Ajax Form library are discussed.
An HTML Form Supercontrol allows you to design parts of your form (or Xdialog) using HTML. This allows you to create stunning looking forms that take full advantage of the layout power of HTML and CSS. HTML Forms can contain fields from the table on which the form is based and Alpha Five automatically binds the fields in the HTML Form to the physical fields in the underlying table.
A very powerful aspect of the HTML Form supercontrol is 'Property Binding' in which a property on the HTML Form (say the border color on an input control) is bound to an expression. This allows you to easily turn the border of the input control to red (for example) if an expression evaluates to a certain value.
When you place an HTML Form supercontrol on a Form (or an Xdialog) you can use standard HTML controls (such as inputs, radio buttons, text areas, etc) in the HTML Form. In addition, you can also use several special 'Alpha Five controls' such as tab controls, accordion controls, conditional objects, etc. This video shows how you can place an Accordion control in an HTML Form supercontrol. It also shows how you can define event handlers for the events in the HTML Form using Xbasic. We show how you can handle the onclick event for a hyperlink using an Xbasic function.
In this next video we show how you can put a button in the accordion control and then use standard CSS to style the button. An accordion control is like a list with sections. Opening one section can automatically close the currently open section. Accordions are a great way to present categorized menu choices to a user. We also show how you can use all of the built-in images that come with Alpha Five to decorate your forms.
In this video we show the full power of the HTML Form supercontrol. This video shows off several features of the HTML Form supercontrol such as accordions, tabs, dynamic lists, Xbasic event handling etc. Unlike the previous two examples which showed the HTML Form supercontrol in the context of a Form, this example shows the HTML Form in an Xdialog.The source code for this example is available in the sample 'Learning Xdialog' database that ships with Version 9.
The Hyperlink Supercontrol allows you to place a hyperlink button on a Form. When you click the hyperlink an event is triggered. Watch video.
The Record Navigator Supercontrol allows you to put a vertical or horizontal track bar, or scroll bar on a Form. By dragging on the slider you can move through the records in your Form. The position of the slider is proportional to the logical position of the current record in the current selection of records.
The Embedded Xdialog Supercontrol allows you to draw a window on a Form and embed an Xdialog in the window. The Xdialog can have input controls (e.g. text boxes, list boxes, radio buttons, check boxes, etc.) that can be automatically bound to field in the underlying table on which the Form is based. This powerful feature allows you to use the power of Xdialog to extend the functionality of your Forms.
In this next video we show an example of a more complex Xdialog that contains a Property Grid control. The fields in the Property Grid are bound to the fields in the underlying table.
The Report Preview Supercontrol allows you to draw a window on your Form and display reports, labels or letters in the window. The filter expression for the report that is displayed in the window can be based on data in the current record, so that when you navigate in the Form from one record to the next, the report shown in the window is automatically updated. The Report Preview Supercontrol is a great way to show related data to the current record.
This video shows how easy it is to place a Report Preview Supercontrol on a Form.
The Clock Supercontrol allows you to put an analog clock on a Form and bind the control to any shorttime field or variable in the underlying table on which the Form is based. You can change the time shown on the clock by dragging on the clock hands, and the value in the field that is bound to the clock will be changed.
The Calendar Supercontrol allows you to put a calendar on a Form and bind the control to any date field or variable in the underlying table on which the Form is based. You can change the date on the calendar, and the value in the field that is bound to the calendar will be changed.
The PDF Viewer Supercontrol allows you to draw a window on a Form an display a PDF file in the window. The name of the PDF file to display can be dynamically constructed from data in the current record.
The Web Content Supercontrol allows you to draw a window on a Form and display content from the Web in the Window. Several pre-built Web Content Templates are offered: Google Maps, Google Image Search, Google Search, MSN Maps, and Yahoo Maps. You can also create your own templates. Templates contain placeholders for field values that are automatically obtained from field values in the current record. This video show how easy it is to place a window on a Form to show Google Maps for the address in the current record.
Alpha Five can now export data from Alpha Five tables to remote databases. The AlphaDAO Export builder allows you to define an export 'job' in which multiple tables Alpha Five tables are exported at once. You can select which records and which fields are exported from each table.
Alpha Five now allows you to create reports with active buttons and hyperlinks. When you preview a report to the screen, these buttons and hyperlinks can display related Reports and Forms. In this video we show you a demo of interactive reporting.
In this video we show how easy it is to create an interactive report.
This video shows some of the improvements in Lookups. When a lookup is displayed as a drop-down box, the lookup window can now display images, the window can be resized, entries in the lookup window can be edited, and new values can be added to the table displayed in the lookup window.
Normally when you create a long-running script that loops many times, you use the Statusbar object to display progress on Alpha Five's statusbar at the bottom of the screen. You can now embed this statusbar object directly in your Xdialogs.
You can now embed Browse Layouts in Xdialogs. Just design the Browse Layout in the Browse Layout editor and then a single command writes the Xdialog code for you.
Dock Panels are used extensively in the Alpha Five Script, HTML, Form, Report, Label and Letter editors. Now, you can create your own Xdialog windows with user-defined Dock Panels.