An unheralded benefit of Alpha Five: Reliability

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An unheralded benefit of Alpha Five: Reliability


I recently was on a phone demo of an application that Web App Express is building for a large engineering company supporting the oil industry. During the discussion, we touched on the high reliability shown by another application the company built with our platform.

Scott Lines, the lead developer of the application, made two interesting comments about Alpha Five v11 during the course of the demo. The first one relates to a well-known core benefit of Alpha Five: productivity. The second comment related to something that is not quite so obvious, but is nevertheless also very important, namely the reliability of applications built in Alpha Five v11. At the end of the call I asked Scott if he could elaborate on this theme. He has now done this in the reply below.

Alpha Five v11 - Reliability

By: Scott Lines of Web App Express

First, a little bit of information about my background. I've been a software developer since the early 1980's, starting out as a programmer developing, of all things, accounting systems in Assembler language! During my career, I have designed, developed, implemented and supported systems for business clients in dozens of industries. Examples of these systems include retail purchase order, retail PC-based point-of-sale, data warehousing, intranet portal, labor forecasting, task management, e-commerce applications, and electronic payment systems. In each of the examples listed, I was directly responsible and worked "hands-on" from system inception through implementation. Over the past five years alone, our company, Web App Express Ltd has built and installed systems that are relied upon every day by small companies as well as Fortune 500 companies.

Since 2007, Web App Express has been developing systems exclusively in Alpha Five. We chose Alpha Five for many of the “typical” reasons that anyone chooses Alpha Five:

    • rapid application development along with a rich event model for programmability
    • ability to connect to virtually any back-end data source
    • ability to build robust business applications for the desktop and web mobile devices
    •  powerful reporting, mapping, charting, scheduling, image and video support
    •  outstanding support from the Alpha Five development team
    •  low cost of the development platform and a multitude of training and educational videos
However, there is one huge benefit to Alpha Five that is not on the list of “typical” reasons developers choose Alpha Five: reliability.

During my career I have worked in a number of development platforms and I can say without hesitation that the systems we have built with Alpha Five are ridiculously reliable when compared with any of them. And when it comes to business systems, stability and reliability mean everything. When we implement a new Alpha Five based system for a client we find that there are fewer "bugs" and an increased level of stability. I attribute this to the following factors:

    • using the component "builders" to do much of the creation of the components reduces the number of programmer errors introduced into the application
    • utilizing the Tabbed User Interface (TUI) as a launching point for the components provides a great user interface without web-pages, navigation components, and hand-tooled security coding.
    • recognizing and adhering to the back-end data source's rules helps to maintain extremely high levels of data integrity.
As an example, we built an intranet portal for a 600+ store specialty retailer. This portal was designed to be used in all 600+ stores by 3,500+ employees as a method of reducing paper throughout the organization. Instead of receiving twice-monthly "mail packs" containing "several pounds" of paper-based communication, all information the stores need is available online through the portal. The portal was conceptualized in February of 2010. On July 1 the system was completed and implemented in all 600+ stores. Since July 1, 2010, the system has been up and running, 24 x 7, while being "supported" by a single in-house developer who admits that he has spent less than 1% of his working time doing any "support!"

In conclusion, if you're evaluating Alpha Five  v11 as your development platform, do factor in system stability and reliability into your return on investment. If you're not fixing bugs and fixing data, you can develop more systems!
You don’t have to be Chuck Yeager to Break the RAD Barrier
Alpha Five, Much More than a Prototyping Tool

About Author

Richard Rabins
Richard Rabins

Co-founder of Alpha Software, Richard Rabins focuses on strategy, sales, and marketing. Richard also served as CEO of SoftQuad International from 1997 to 2001, when it owned Alpha. In addition to his 30 years with the company, Richard played a key role as co-founder, and served as president and chairman of the Massachusetts Software Council (now the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council), the largest technology trade organization in Massachusetts. Prior to founding Alpha, Richard was a project leader and consultant with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), and a management consultant with Management Decision Systems, Inc. Richard holds a master's degree in system dynamics from the Sloan School at MIT, and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and master's degree in control engineering from University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has served on the boards of Silent Systems, Legacy Technology and O3B Networks, and is co-founder of Tubifi www.tubifi.com.

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