Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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2/26/2010
02:46 PM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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Build A Web App in 5 Minutes, With No Code (ReviewCam)

Building simple, rich web applications still takes some programming effort, but Alpha Software's Alpha Five promises to let non-programmers tackle the effort quickly and without writing a single line of code. "Codeless Ajax," Alpha calls it. We put this to the test, asking if one of Alpha's development partners could build us a quick application in five minutes.

Building simple, rich web applications still takes some programming effort, but Alpha Software's Alpha Five promises to let non-programmers tackle the effort quickly and without writing a single line of code. "Codeless Ajax," Alpha calls it. We put this to the test, asking if one of Alpha's development partners could build us a quick application in five minutes.You can watch a ReviewCam demonstration of this by selecting the "Play" button directly below.

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Granted, it was a developer we were watching, and some of the reports were pre-built, but everything was done using drag and drop functionality. It's a bit too much for a typical business user, but a power user with enough technical knowledge to be able to point to database fields or records and think through forms-based designs can get an app running in no time.

In our session with Alpha, the developer built a grid by choosing from a click-list of fields, a row expander using Ajax Callback functions (all built in, so once again, there's no code to write), a cascading lookup (if a user picks "United States" it then presents a list of U.S. states, for example), and called up a Google Map using one of the handful of JavaScript templates that come with the software (there are UPS and Fedex tracking templates, for example).

On this latter point, developers can add to the Alpha functionality by creating their own "supercontrol" templates using XBASIC. In fact, developers can extend the functionality of Alpha using XBasic and Javascript.

Alpha connects to dozens of back end systems. It has been used to build quick applications for Haitian relief efforts, police station hiring and hotel management. The software costs around $500.

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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