Having The Right Tools For The Job Is Vital To Achieving Success
 

With a company history stretching back over thirty years, Alternative Systems has been developing custom applications using a variety of tools. In the early days, there was Fortran and Delphi, Unix shell scripts and Perl. The BASIC language became popular on PCs followed by Microsoft's Visual Basic on the desktop and then VBScript for the web. We spent years developing applications using FileMaker Pro. We've had to learn and master a number of technologies over the years and constantly stay engaged with new advances and popular trends to remain relevant.

For the past decade, we've exclusively focused on developing custom Internet solutions. Along the way, we've become adept at adapting to and incorporating advances. We have become good predictors of eventual market acceptance for tools. Some languages and platforms have remained staples of the web since their inception while others have taken time to mature and gain wide acceptance. Below are highlighted some of the core tools that we use actively each and every day to deliver exceptional, hand-crafted value to our clients.

HTML - The web designers at Alternative Systems have continuously expanded their HTML knowledge and implementations from the earliest versions. Over the years, an increasing number of features have been added to web browsers, enabling them to render an increasing variety of media types. Formatting options have come a very long way since the days before NCSA Mosaic provided support for images or Netscape introduced support for tables in their web browser. We are well seasoned with crafting XHTML compliant documents. Currently, our team is prototyping advanced HTML 5 based web interfaces and testing them for cross browser compatibility for imminent use in our next generation of web applications. To view the latest working draft of the HTML 5 specification, visit the W3C page.

CSS - Cascading style sheets are a critical component to a well-designed web interface. There are many tricks of the trade and 'hacks' when it comes to CSS that only experience and research can provide. Since the advent of the very first style sheet standards, our team has been using the power and flexibility of the ever expanding set of design features provided by popular web browser implementations to deliver rich web interfaces which degrade gracefully across various browser versions. To learn more about the Cascading Style Sheets specification, visit the W3C page.

JavaScript and jQuery - Originally, LiveScript was invented by Netscape Communications Corporation as a means to connect web pages loaded in their browser to Java applets embedded in those same pages. This led to the name 'JavaScript'. Microsoft soon released their own Jscript variant to script ActiveX controls in the Internet Explorer browser. Finally, standards emerged, such as ECMA, to provide the groundwork upon which client side frameworks, such as jQuery, could be developed. During this entire process, we've learned, advanced, and contributed to the growth of JavaScript and we employ it, especially using jQuery, in almost every web application we develop. With the advent of AJAX and related design patterns, the use of client side scripting has become even more important to the design of web interfaces and we've mastered JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) to facilitate the design of highly interactive user experiences powered by data retrieved from the application server layer. For more information about jQuery, visit the jQuery community web site.

PHP - It took many years for PHP to mature into the platform it has become today. Rasmus Lerdorf first invented a simple new scripting language called Personal Home Page to allow almost anyone who would learn a little programming to create royalty free web sites with open source technology. Some years later, great advances were made by the involvement of Zend. Still later, PHP matured into a leading API scripting language for Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other successful web services providers. There were ubiquitous deployments of frameworks built on PHP such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. Since 1999, our developers have kept up on all of the advances made by PHP and related open source web technologies. As these technologies matured and professional deployments began to proliferate, we quickly added custom PHP programming to the list of core technical services we are happy to offer our clients. For more information about PHP, please visit the PHP community web site

Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks - Before the days of web design, Adobe Photoshop provided a great set of features for print designers. As web publishing rapidly expanded, a tool was needed which was both familiar to desktop publishers and could author and edit web graphics effectively. Adobe saw this new market and responded by adding features to Photoshop for web graphic design. Macromedia found success with Fireworks, which was later acquired by Adobe when the two companies merged. Fireworks was developed to be strictly a tool for web graphics with no print legacy. Our designers have made use of both tools through their various versions to produce compelling graphics for the web. For more information about Photoshop, please visit the Adobe Photoshop page. For more information about Fireworks, please visit the Adobe Fireworks page.

MySQL - It took many years for Alternative Systems to begin using the open source MySQL database in production for web applications. We waited and watched and learned for nearly ten years until we believed that MySQL had begun providing superior value to competing systems. MySQL has enjoyed a wide deployment as the database backend of choice for PHP developers, being an integral part of the LAMP platform. We now regularly employ MySQL in web application development and typically select it as our default database backend for most new web applications that we develop in the absence of a client preference. For more information about MySQL, please visit the MySQL community site.

Microsoft SQL Server - We've relied on Microsoft's SQL Server database to build web applications since the late 1990s and have kept up with the advances introduced by each successive version since 6. More often than not in the past, we would exclusively rely upon MSSQL to act as our database backend for web applications written in CFML. We're well versed with data replication, backup and maintenance, and all other database administration tasks. Additionally, we've created many web applications which take advantage of the stored procedures, views, triggers, and complex SQL join capabilities of MSSQL. For more information about MSSQL, please visit the Microsoft SQL Server page.

XML -- In the late 1990s, it became apparent that a new, lightweight markup language was needed to transfer structured data packets over the Internet. Taking inspiration from Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) technologies and the SGML markup language, XML was born. Since its introduction, Alternative Systems has made use of XML to transfer data between remote hosts, perform data migrations between different types of systems with different means of data storage, made use of it to transfer data between the server and browser in applications such as AJAX and Flash, aggregating and syndicating Atom and RSS feeds as well as all manner of proprietary XML data formats such as Yahoo! Weather and various providers of real time market data. For the latest information about the XML specification, please visit the W3C page.

Adobe ColdFusion and/or Railo Open Source - ColdFusion has been our development tool of choice for rapidly deploying web applications, dynamic web sites, intranets or e-commerce sites for many years. Alternative Systems has been offering ColdFusion development since 1997. Our ColdFusion developers consistently push the envelope of ColdFusion programming to create robust solutions that are fast, modular, stable, easy to use and easy to upgrade. Our consultants can tackle any ColdFusion problem - from the most minor of updates, to the most complex ColdFusion enterprise applications. For more information about ColdFusion, please visit the Adobe ColdFusion page.

Oracle Java - Java programming for the web began as a way to enliven web pages through the embedding of applets. Soon after, full blown Java applications began to be developed for the desktop using the AWT and then Swing UI libraries. As the Internet began to incorporate all types of smart devices such as routers, PDAs, and phones, Java became a language and platform of choice. It was originally developed by Sun Microsystems for just such a purpose. J2EE provided the first serious multi tier MVC architecture required to craft rapid web applications in Java. We have kept up with the pace of Java development since the beginning and have many years of experience writing all types of Java applications on multiple platforms. For more information about Java technologies, please visit the Oracle Java page.

Adobe Flash and Premier - Ever since Macromedia was able to push the flash player to near ubiquitous deployment among all popular web browsers in the late 1990s, it has become a popular way to embed animation into web pages. With the advance of XML and LiveScript, it became possible for the first time to build very rich application interfaces using flash technology. Additionally, small widgets that could be syndicated into third party web pages became a popular means of advertising and promotion. There are a variety of ways that Flash can be smartly employed in the development of web applications and the design of web sites. Our talented visual designers and application developers alike are well versed in Flash technologies. For more information about Flash technologies, please visit the Adobe Flash page

Apache HTTPD Server - The free and open source Apache httpd server has been a feature of the world wide for well over a decade and is deployed as a standard in data centers across the world. Apache continues to be the leading web server in terms of number of deployments worldwide, a title it has held for a very long time. There is a reason for its success. It is simple, powerful, and easy to configure. Alternative Systems has years of experience developing web applications using the Apache server, integrating it with PHP, ColdFusion Application Server, Railo, and other application servers. We have successfully hosted Apache based web sites on Windows and Linux and it is our preferred web server for PHP and WordPress development, comprising a critical part of the LAMP platform. For more information about Apache, please visit the Apache web site.

Microsoft Internet Information Services -- Long included with Microsoft Windows Server operating systems, IIS has provided us a means to host web sites on a Windows platform for over a decade. We are knowledgeable about ISAPI and have many years of experience configuring and supporting Microsoft IIS. For more information about IIS, please visit the Microsoft IIS page.