Alpha Software Blog

Think all updates in Alpha Anywhere are only for Mobile - think Again



Not everyone is currently building mobile apps with Alpha Anywhere.

Some of you may only be building desktop apps (web and windows) - so, we thought that we should let you know, that the ongoing innovations and enhancements apply to you as well.



What’s new In Alpha Anywhere for Desktop Users – whether you are building desktop web or windows apps. 

1. Keep in mind they both the UX component and the Grid component can be used in Desktop applications.

Therefore all of the enhancements that have been made to the UX and Grid are relevant for Desktop users. There have been hundereds of enhancements to the UX and Grid components.

2. Xdialog
Xdialog is a central building block for many desktop applications
a) Xdialogs can now embed the Chrome Browser controls. This means that Xdialogs can be styled using the full power of HTML/CSS to create stunning looking Xdialogs

b)Xdialog overlays – allow a developer to create floating windows over an Xdialog. A typical use case for this is to display instructions to the user.

c)Use Google Charts in Xdialogs – allows you to display great looking charts using the extensive Google Charts API.
There have been hundreds of improvements to Xbasic. Xbasic is central to how both Desktop and Web applications are built.
A sampling of some of the improvements to Xbasic are listed below:
a) Send email using the SparkPost service. This is a much more reliable way of sending email from your Alpha Anywhere app than using your own mail servers.
b) New array methods
- .push() — push an element onto the end of an array
- DIM arrays with default values
- reversearray() — reverse array entries
c)JSON has emerged as the de-facto standard for data transfer. Xbasic now has a huge library of functions for working with and generating JSON data. These functions make JSON a first class citizen in your Xbasic code and make it very easy to work with JSON data.
d) a5_json_to_excel() – export JSON data to Excel.
e) Xbasic function can now take array arguments and can return arrays.
f) Helper functions for working with SQL tables – e.g. sql_import(), sql_update(), sql_insert(), create_sql_table(). These functions make it easier to do insert/update operations against SQL databases than writing low level Xbasic code.
g)Node.js has emerged as a extremely important language. The public Node repositories have thousands of Node modules to perform specialized tasks. Xbasic can not call functions written in Node.js using the Xbasic node_request() function.
h) CURL to Xbasic Genie
REST APIs are extremely important for developers today. Many web sites make it possible to interact with them programmatically using REST API. For example, get the weather forecast by making a REST API call to a Weather service. The typical way in in which a developer will make a REST API call is using the popular CURL program. Additionally, most API documentation show CURL examples of how to make REST calls to their API. The Xbasic CURL genie will convert a CURL command into an Xbasic script so that you can use Xbasic to make REST API calls.
i) Whatt3Words is a popular new service that translates addresses(specified by a lattitude/longitude) into 3 simple english words. e.g. The address of Alpha’s headquarters is smoke.eggs.strike. Alpha Anywhere now has built in functions to convert addressed into What3Words addresses and to convert What3Words addresses into lat/lng locations.
j) QR Codes have become increasingly populate as a way of encoding information. You can now generate QR code from Xbasic. You can even include QR codes in printed reports.
k) Send SMS messages directly from Xbasic using the Twillio service (twillio_send_sms() function)
l) Merge data from a .dbf table or a SQL query into a Microsoft Word template documents
k) Generate PDF files from any HTML text
m) Xbasic classes — more and more developers are using Xbasic classes when they write their Xbasic code. Classes can now define .get() and .set() methods that are called when you read and update properties in a class.
n) While REST services have become more populate in recent years, there are still many enterprises that continue to use SOAP services. You can now use Xbasic to call SOAP services.
o) Use the Xbasic a5_merge_json_into_template() function to use the full power of the Alpha templating features to generate documents by merging JSON data into templates.
p) Read and write files to Amazon S3 buckets. S3 has emerged as a very popular ‘hard drive in the cloud’ and you can now use Xbasic function to read and write data from/to S3.
4. Connectivity/AlphaDAO
a) Connection to oData data sources. oData is emerging as a new standard for data connectivity. Sharepoint, SAP, Office365 data are all exposed through oData. This means that your Xbasic code can access and update data in any oData data source
b) Execute a SQL query and export the results directly to an Excel, CSV or text file.
c) Connect directly to MongoDB, CouchDB and other NoSQL databases.
d) Connect to Amazon RDS cloud databases, Amazon Aurora, and Amazon Redshift
e) Built in support for the popular SQLite database. SQLite is not included as part of Alpha Anywhere.
5. Reports
a) Display data as QR codes
b) Create custom stylesheets for Layout Table reports
c) create boxes and lines that use a double line style
d) Support for Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). You can now print reports defined in SSRS directly from within your Alpha Anywhere applications.
e) Growable vertical lines – a common requirement in reports is to create boxes around report sections. For example, you might want a box around the records in the Detail section. Previously this was difficult because if you drew a vertical line in the Detail section, the lines for sequential detail view records would not completely touch. Now, with growable vertical lines you can create very attractive reports with neat boxes around sections.
f) Layout Table Reports — option to keeps rows together to prevent a break in the middle of a row
g) Layout Table Reports — option to suppress blank rows in the report
h) Custom report datasources – now you can define an arbitrary Xbasic function that returns data to be used in a report. This means (for example)that you can call a web Service (REST or SOAP) and generate a report based on the data returned by your Xbasic function. 
6. PDF Printing
In order to print PDF files on Windows 10, the latest Amyuni V5 printer driver is needed. Alpha Anywhere now bundles the Windows 10 compatible Amyuni PDF printer driver.
7. PDF Processing
a) Get a list of fillin fields in a PDF file
b) Merge data into a PDF form
8. Enhanced Security
Interested in moving to a significantly improved Alpha?
We have special programs for existing customers that are in place now.
For more information, please contact
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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

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.