Alpha Software Boosts Offline Features in Low-Code Mobile Dev Tool

Alpha Anywhere 4.3, a low-code mobile and Web app development tool, has been released with increased offline functionality and several other improvements.

Using a database-centric, model-driven approach for building hybrid mobile and HTML5-based Web apps that allows for hand-coding when needed, Alpha Anywhere 4.3 reportedly features enhancements in performance, security, data integration and UX capabilities.

However, its offline functionality -- providing apps that work even when a network connection isn't available -- is of special interest to developers creating apps designed for field work where connectivity might be spotty. Such functionality is an especially difficult problem in Web apps, which are seeking to close the gap in performance compared with native apps.

Like Mendix and other low-code competitors, Alpha Anywhere addresses the problem with techniques such as persisting local data, including unsynchronized transactions and app state; propagating mobile transactions back to a corporate database; synchronizing data on the server; resolving conflicts; and so on.

In version 4.3, that functionality has been extended, the Alpha Software Corp. said in a statement yesterday. It now supports the Application Cache HTML5 feature, which is supported by many browsers (though the Mozilla Developer Network says it's being deprecated in favor of Service Workers).

Contrasting approaches to offline mobile apps
[Click on image for larger view.] Contrasting Approaches to Offline Mobile Apps (source: Alpha Software Corp.)

"Version 4.3 speeds application delivery with two new ways to test and deploy apps, while maintaining Alpha Anywhere's market lead in robust offline capabilities," the company said. "The Application Cache (an HTML5 feature widely supported by various browsers) allows you to build Web apps that are loaded into the browser and can continue to function even if an Internet connection is lost."

Version 4.3 documentation explains more about the new feature. "After the application loads for the first time, all of the files (such as the CSS, JavaScript and images) referenced by the application are cached in the browser and an Internet connection is not needed to reload the application subsequently. If the application is updated, the updates can be downloaded and again cached in the browser. This happens when the application is reloaded and an Internet connection is detected." We covered the offline functionality of the tool in more detail when version 3.0 was released in 2014.

Other new features of the release highlighted by Alpha include:

  • Enhanced security via new Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) drivers that work with SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, MariaDB and other platforms, used to encrypt/decrypt data moving between the server-based application layer and the back-end SQL database.
  • Expanded data integration with the inclusion of two new lightweight database engines, REDIS and SQL Server LocalDB.
  • A new PhoneGap shell that "allows developers to load UX components for testing without the need to rewrap the component in PhoneGap. By using this method, developers save significant time usually required to rewrap the app, downloading it to a mobile device and install it."

The actual low-code development experience also sees several new features, the company said.

"Version 4.3 introduces a variety of new features to speed business app development, including low-code/no-code Action Javascript for Google Address Autocompletions and for sending text messages via SMS," Alpha said.

"The new ControlBar control for UX components includes a powerful builder for controls bars, menus, and disclosures which enable efficient, elegant, and effective user experiences to be built rapidly. SVG Icons have been added, which offer more design and color options to developers, are lighter weight than bitmaps, scale to any size and look crisp at any resolution.

In addition, the new self-titled Alpha Stylesheet offers a clean, modern, and quickly adjustable look across all devices and platforms. The new SASS Variable Editor speeds app design changes by allowing developers to quickly adjust the color palette of an entire application at once."

Alpha Anywhere 4.3 is now available and provided at no charge to current subscribers. Pricing details for the offering -- which is available in a free trial -- can be found here.

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About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.