HTML text. The grids can be read-only
or updatable; with updatable grids, the
end user can type into the grid and
open a full-featured WYSIWYG HTML
editor for entering rich text right from
within the browser. You can also create
multiple grids and tie them together.
Building a Website
In addition, there are other controls, including navigation controls,
to help you build a Website consisting
of multiple pages, and dialogs that
encompass Web forms for data entry.
In a matter of minutes, you can have
a full-featured Web application running using no programming at all.
The software-design process is
simple: After designing your database
and its tables, you create Web components individually—such as grids and
navigation controls—and save them
separately. Each component can be
tested and previewed in an internal
browser based on Internet Explorer.
(But the final product can run on any
of the major browsers.)
Next, you create the Web pages, adding your controls to them. Once that’s
done, you publish your application,
which copies everything (the pages,
controls and database files) to the Alpha
Five Web server’s root directory using
a publishing system that works really
well and is easily configurable.
The pages themselves work similarly to the way an ASP.NET or PHP
server-side code enclosed in <%at%>
tags. The server-side code gets executed
by the Alpha Five Web server and is
output. The server-side code includes
directives for inserting the controls
(which result in a good amount of
AJAX, but you don’t need to modify or
worry about any of that code), as well
as additional code that uses the XBasic
If you’re a programmer willing to
roll up your sleeves, you can do even
more. With those server-side directives,
you can put in your own XBasic code,
which works much like programming
ASP.NET and PHP. You can use the
good old BASIC “print” statement that
consists of just a question mark.
When you print something, the
output of the print statement goes into
the final HTML that gets sent down to
the browser—just like the echo statement in PHP or the Response.Write
statement in ASP.NET. If you don’t
want to use the components, you’re
free to create entire Web pages using all
your own custom server-side code.
that runs on the client side, such as
in response to various grid events. I
found myself getting a little confused
here because my urge was to open up
there. But then I started getting lost.
tion whereby when an entry form
finishes sending its data to the server,
it would notify a grid to update itself.
The way I created the grid and form
was different from the usual Alpha
Five way of doing it, so the other grid
wasn’t getting updated automatically.
that would update the other grid, but
wasn’t sure how to do it.
That forced me to start uncovering
an Alpha Five feature I hadn’t yet discovered, and that’s when it all started
to come together. In the grid properties
screen of the Alpha Five application,
there are several places where you can
can double-click any of these properties, and a window opens into which
the work from within the property editors when possible, rather than writing
the code directly into the pages. When
you do it this way, everything
fits together perfectly.
The developers of Alpha
Five have done an excellent
job of anticipating where
you would likely want to add
custom code, and they give
you places to do it rather than
forcing you to hack apart the
pages and insert your code
yourself. When I followed
this approach, everything
In the end, I had a full-featured application. Although I
went beyond the “codeless”
For programmers who really want
to take this product to its extreme
limits, there’s a full-featured code
editor that enables you to create your
own XBasic code libraries. You can
use a rich built-in library, too. Your
original code libraries can then be
loaded by both desktop and Web-based applications. The XBasic code
still runs only on the server, but any
the client side.
In the end, you can create applications that are as powerful as the best
Web applications out there. ;
Jeff Cogswell can be contacted at jeff.
Most of the dialog boxes in the designer have help
built right into them.