Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Convert Excel to a Database Online and Start Using Both

Сonvert Excel to a database and keep using both for the tasks they fit the bestIn a modern business there are two things that really matter: correctly maintaining/managing data and staying agile in a rapidly changing environment. At the meeting-point between these two trends, we witness an ongoing war between traditional data management tools (like MS Excel or MS Access) and recent solutions (like custom online databases). I suggest: turn enemies into friends - convert Excel to a database online and make business, not war.

A Second Nature

Excel has been around for more than 30 years now, and data management technologies have developed greatly since than There have been a whole bunch of heavy hitters trying to dethrone the spreadsheet giant. And yes, sometimes Excel is just a pit of frustration. Piling errors in spreadsheets, troublesome information sharing, and problematic concurrent access by multiple users are Excel's biggest drawbacks.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Quickbase fails

Recently Quickbase customers experienced service outages repeatedly. It has been really an unexpected surprise for Quickbase users.

Recent outages brought QuickBase uptime for the past 90 days to as low as 95% level:

And even though they were assured the problem is temporary, the number of service failures exceeded acceptable limits. You can check out the retrospection of problems reviewing Intuit's Quickbase Fails Days After CEO Pledges Fix.

Quickbase official blog states the situation is unacceptable. As an apology Quickbase offers one month credit to all users, so you can check out their official letter to Quickbase customers HERE.

Anyway, this situation has brought QuickBase service reliability into a question, and many customers have lost their trust to this vendor for good. Even worse, some customers' databases are still broken, leaving them in a real frustration. That's why the competitors don't waste time and have already made their special migration offers to Quickbase customers.

So far, the following vendors offered their platform to be used as a reliable QuickBase alternative:

  • Check out Caspio special migration offer HERE.
  • TeamDesk special migration offer you can review HERE.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vendors ready to help DabbleDB customers

As long as Dabble DB is out of the game now customers must be looking for other place to move their data.

It's not pleasant to discover one day the service you relied on let you down. But the good thing is some vendors are eager to help DabbleDB customers to make the transition faster and easier. Special offers make the process less painful.

So, lets check out vendors ready to help with their special offers.

Here I made the list of web based systems for moving the data:


Caspio Bridge

  • Free 14-day trial
  • Free first month of Value Package (regularly $39.95)
  • Free migration consultation
  • Free instructor-led training
  • Free unlimited support
  • 20% off custom development services

  • TeamDesk

  • Free automated migration using Dabble DB backup file
  • Free Technical Support
  • Free Trial

  • QuickBase

  • 3 Free Months while you migrate your database applications
  • 2 Free Hours of migration support and consulting

  • Zoho Creator

  • Free migration
  • Unlimited Support

  • I wish all former DabbleDB users to make the right choice this time.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    DabbleDB is out of the game

    10 June 2010 Smallthought Systems, a company behind DabbleDb online database has been acquired by Twitter.

    No doubt that will be a new and successful stage for Dabble DB team. So, congratulations! But does this situation really differ from going out of the business Coghead?

    Is there any plan Dabble DB can offer their customers?

    Unfortunately, it seems Dabble DB customers are alone with their problems now:
    "We will do whatever we need to do to make sure that, at any time, you can export all of your data, including attachments, in a structured format suitable for import into other systems."

    As I see it this situation has brought up the problem into question again.

    Which criteria one should take into consideration choosing the SaaS vendor?

    Can the vendor be trusted so one builds a business with it?

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Want to make Caspio forms dynamic? Scripting is the way.

    Caspio is positioned as a solution for building powerful web database applications and forms without programming. But why in the majority of cases when the user wants to add some dynamic behavior to the form he must use JavaScript?

    I'd like to thank Frank Zamani for help and detailed answer about dynamic capabilities of Caspio Bridge.

    Most features in Caspio-powered forms configured at design time and forms usually don't change behavior no matter how the user at run time acts. However, there are areas where behavior is dynamic:

    Cascading dropdowns and listboxes, where the options in each field of the group depends on what is selected in the parent field can be implemented without programming. More details here.

    Unfortunately, in all cases dynamic forms must be handled by JavaScript.
    "Dynamic displaying/hiding or requiring fields is currently handled by JavaScript. That’s about to change as we will bring more of these options right into the platform."

    Well until this happens, I think dynamic behavior capabilities of data entry forms в Caspio Bridge are pretty limited except dependent dropdown.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Zoho Creator can make forms dynamic. Get ready to script.

    Wanna add some dynamics to your Zoho Creator forms? Then get ready to master Deluge Script first.

    First of all I'd like to thank Latha from Zoho Creator support for the detailed answer and sample application.
    "Zoho Creator can perform the functions you mentioned in your blog like Hide/show field values based on values in other fields, change the value of a field based on value selected in another field, validate field values, make read only values etc. by adding Deluge Script."

    I'd like to make several examples of how Deluge Script looks implementing all above mentioned actions.

    Сustom validation of form data:

    Modify form contents dynamically, on form load:

    Perform an action after a form data is persisted (for example, send email notification):

    Perform field actions (like show/hide fields based on value selected in another field):

    Display items in a dropdown based on selection made in another dropdown:


    Well, Zoho Creator makes forms really dynamic and the flexibility you get can surpass other systems, but just in case you are capable of Deluge Scripting. I think, the main peculiarity (or problem?) of Zoho Creator is the fact the user can't do a thing without Deluge Script. Of course, you can do a lot of stuff with it, but unfortunately there is no golden mean option.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    TeamDesk forms can be dynamic.

    In case you'd like to make your forms dynamic in TeamDesk two features are available for this: form behavior and dynamic calculation.

    Form behavior allows us to control column behavior in forms. You can specify the condition and the set of changes to apply to the form's columns when the condition is met. It's possible to show/hide column on "view" form and hide, make read-only, editable or required on "edit/add" form.

    TeamDesk tracks when column used in the criteria formula changes its value and dynamically applies changes on affected columns in the form.

    You can check the peculiarities of the implementation here.

    The second opportunity to add some dynamics in TeamDesk is dynamic calculation. Any data column in TeamDesk has "Default/Calculate" property where you can write the formula that will work not only when new record is created, but also when any column used in the formula changes its value.

    The details of its implementation one can specify here.


    TeamDesk can make your forms dynamic. I really like that form behavior is not attached to any specific form and at the same time works for all forms set for the table in a view mode, as well as in edit mode. It's also good that system handles dependencies automatically (even though in the very beginning it takes some effort to understand that), so if you use [A]+[B] formula as "default/calculate" value in [C] column, system will automatically recalculate [C] if [A] or [B] changed by user on the screen.

    There are also some peculiarities and limitations in TeamDesk I'd like to outline.

    Calculations and form behavior in the system are done on the web server, not in a user's browser and it causes a little delay. I think here some visual feedback can solve the issue (in order to show wich columns will be affected).

    Please note also what form sections and detail views can’t be controlled by form behavior or other way dynamically.

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Keep in mind specifics of QuickBase form rules.

    In Quickbase your forms can behave differently based on specific conditions. You set the condition and tell system what action (or actions) to perform.

    Let's check how QuickBase funciotns. Each rule contains 2 parts: conditions and actions are to be done, when the condition is true.

    QuickBase supports following variants of conditions:

    • Field condition (for example, when the Status field is "completed.")

    • When the record is opened/saved.

    • When current user has definite role.

    There is also a possibility to set multiple conditions in case the user needs to check several conditions.

    Within the Action section, tell QuickBase what you want the program do when data in the form meets your condition(s).

    Quickbase supports such variants of actions:

    • change a field to a particular value or the value in another field

    • hide/show a field or section

    • make a field required or not required

    • make a field read-only or editable

    • display a message

    You can combine multiple actions in one rule if needed.

    In case you'd like to specify the peculiarities of the implementation you can check it here. There is also a real life example of the setup and one can see it here.


    Quickbase form rules work well and really allow implementing everything in a pretty simple way. There are some peculiarities though I'd like to specify.

    Quickbase form rules run in a user's browser and within data-entry FORMS only, not in grid-edit. So, if you try to implement any business logic with its help, don't forget to turn off spreadsheet-like editing of the report.

    Maybe it's just me, but the setup when two or more form rules show or hide the same element looks a bit complicated (you should combine them into one rule, using the Multiple Conditions selection).

    In case you have different forms for different kinds of users be ready to create form rules in each form and support its consistancy as each form has its own set of rules.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Let's check the situation with some dynamics in forms. Can users count on it?

    I am about to test the ability of web based systems to control column behavior depending on data in other columns. For example, such options as hide, show, mark as required or change column value when some condition on other columns are met.

    So, lets find out the peculiarities of such functionality in Quickbase, Caspio, TeamDesk, DabbleDB, TrackVia and Zoho Creator. We'll try to look into the specifics of its implementation and if there is such possibility at all.


    Sabina Iseli-Otto from Dabble DB:
    "Well, you get a short answer from us: we don't support dynamic column behaviour at all."


    Matt Strenz from TrackVia:
    "The ability to have dynamic data entry forms that will show different fields or options based off results in another is not something that is currently available in TrackVia but this is on our roadmap of enhancements to make in the future. We’ve done this at no cost to customers on a case-by-case basis for Website Forms."

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Which web based databases have native client for iPhone?

    Don't want to disappoint you, but most web based systems don't offer native client. They rely on iPhone almost full Safari version as web browser and that's it.

    DabbleDB officially confirmed the system didn't have native app. Therefore this affects the possibility of working within the system through Safari web browser in their knowledge base.

    Zoho Creator announced they had optimized web layout for iPhone and even created special mobile version.

    I've also found indirect confirmation on TrackVia forum the system works on iPhone.

    I guess Caspio, TeamDesk and WorkXpress are also available through web browser on iPhone and iPod touch.

    Check out the good news now.

    Recently Intuit guys have announced on their blog their partner MCF Technology Solutions presented new iPhone application in called PocketBase. Instead of accessing QuickBase via the iPhone’s web browser, MCF Tech has leveraged QuickBase’s API to present QuickBase applications with native iPhone functionality. Currently the application doesn't allow to add/remove records, you can view it only.

    I think this is the step in the right direction, because working with such an app is far better than through browser. Anyway mobile devices have a way smaller screen and require other approaches to resolve this issue.

    What do you think?

    Update from Andrew Catton:

    Dabble DB pages are optimized to work both with iphone and android (we think this is the right way to do it, as the pages interfaces are much better suited to a small mobile screen than the core app, and you're more likely to be quickly entering data or checking a pre-defined view in this scenario). More details here.