Product update: Charts, Local Documentation, y mucho más

Today we released what may have been our biggest product update since the launch of Alpha Five Version 11 last October. It includes many new features with benefits for both Desktop and Web developers.

One of the highlights is a new local Documentation Viewer, which allows fast local access to the documentation even when your computer is not connected to the Internet, and the ability to update the local documentation from the master Wiki when it is connected to the Internet. When using the local viewer, you can filter titles using wildcards, search full text using wildcards, search full text with multiple conditions, and browse the table of contents.

 This release includes three new Feature Packs: Proximity Search for the Grid Component, a Map Control for the Dialog Component, and Chart Controls for the Dialog Component.
All three are free to subscribers.

    • Grid Component - Proximity Search The Proximity Search Control allows you to easily add a search field to your Grid to find all records within a specified radius of an address (such as 70 Blanchard Rd, Burlington MA 01803) or a partial address (such as Burlington MA). This feature only works with SQL tables that have a Geography/Geometry field.

    • Dialog Component - Map Control You can now put map controls on a Dialog component. The map control object exposes methods that allows you to easily program against the map object. For example, you can center the map, add markers to the map, read the position of markers, etc. You could easily bring up a map control from the item selected from the results of a proximity search.Currently the map control uses Google Maps. In the future, if there is sufficient demand, we would like to add support for other map vendors, such as Bing.

    • Dialog Component - Chart Control You can now add charts to the Dialog Component. This allows the easy creation of dashboards.To see a list of all chart types that are offered, click here.The basic principle behind defining a chart is as follows.
      • First define the data series on which the chart is based.
      • A chart can be be based on one or more data series
      • To define data series, select the Properties pane and then click the smart field for the 'Data series' property (see below for more details)
      • Once you have defined your data series, add a Chart control to the Dialog. You can add as many Chart controls to a Dialog as you want. This allows you to create 'dashboard' type applications.
      • To add a Chart control to the Dialog, select the 'Chart' control in the list of available 'Dialog Controls'.
      • After you have added the Chart control to the Dialog, click the 'Chart definition' smart field to define the properties of the cha

This release includes 6 exciting new Subscriber Benefits -- time-saving features that are only available to subscribers. These are

    • Automatically geocode addresses in the data at the same time the record is saved into a SQL database
    • Compute a Geography Field from Latitude/Longitude Values
    • Define an action to display a message that automatically fades out of view over a certain interval.Fade-out messages are ideal for providing feedback to a user to indicate, for example, that some action has been completed.
    • Display a fade-out confirmation message to the user if the data was successfully saved when the user clicks the Submit button in a Dialog
    • Advanced Message Box: When you create an action to display a message box, instead of using the built-in Javascript alert() and confirm() functions, which are very primitive, and do not allow custom styling, you can now choose an advanced option which allows you to create a styled message box that uses the A5.messageBox() function in the Alpha Five Javascript library. Also, when you use the advanced option, you can define custom buttons to appear on the dialog, so you are not limited to OK, Cancel, Yes and No.
    • Defining Javascript using Javascript Actions instead of Writing Javascript Functions - When you define a Javascript function you need to write the Javascript code by  hand. In the Dialog Properties pane, a new property 'Javascript Actions' has been added. This allows you to define Javascript using genies.  Defining Javascript Actions is similar to defining Javascript Functions for your Dialog, except that you use the Action Javascript Builders to write the Javascript code rather than hand-coding it. The Actions that you define here can be called by various event handlers in your Dialog.
Last, but not least, this release includes many Bug Fixes. Despite our push to add new features, bugs that you report and we can reproduce are never neglected, always documented transparently, and often fixed within a day of the report.

Full details about this update are in the release notes.

A developer's journey from Delphi to Servoy to Alpha Five v11
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About Author

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Martin Heller

Martin Heller is a contributing editor and reviewer for InfoWorld. Formerly a web and Windows programming consultant, he developed databases, software, and websites from his office in Andover, Massachusetts, from 1986 to 2010. More recently, he has served as VP of technology and education at Alpha Software and chairman and CEO at Tubifi. Disclosure: He also writes for Hewlett-Packard's TechBeacon marketing website.

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