'Old-fashioned' database program worth checking
First published in Business in Vancouver:
The high-tech office column, August 7, 2001
by ALAN ZISMAN (c)
Once upon a time, people referred to the Big
for personal computers: word processors, spreadsheets and databases.
was represented by a major application, which made a fortune for its
A decade or so ago, the big three were Wordperfect, Lotus 1-2-3 and
The first two still have their fans, though neither
defines its product
category anymore. But while there are still some businesses running old
Dbase code, that application is no longer among the living. In fact,
most of us make use of a word processor and many use spreadsheets, few
Still, the need for databases -- organized collections
of data -- hasn't
disappeared. And most of us actually do access databases regularly,
checking our personal address books or shopping online. We just don't
it by running a database program on a personal computer. In fact,
computer database programs can be hard to find. Both Microsoft and
include such programs in their office suite packages, for example, but
only in the higher-priced "professional" versions. And they're right.
Access and Corel's Paradox are not programs that define ease-of-use.
Instead, we make do with the pre-made databases in
manager software, using address books in Outlook or Palm Desktop, or
sophisticated contact management products such as Vancouver-based Multiactive's
Maximizer. We may use a spreadsheet to build other simple databases,
that Microsoft recognized with the List Manager feature in the latest
version of Excel but, ironically, left out of the newest Windows
Intuit, makers of the widely used Quicken
personal finance software,
thinks there's still a place for a simple database. Unlike Access,
or the old Dbase, you don't need to be a programmer to create a
with their new Quickbase. And because it's online at www.quickbase.com,
your data is accessible anywhere you have Internet access.
You can keep your data private or, since it's online,
you can choose
to make it accessible to other users. You can limit who can access your
data and you can allow access as "read-only" or with the ability to add
data. Nicely, your first three databases are free. After that, pricing
depends on the number of databases posted, starting at US$15 per month
for access to up to 15 databases. Only the creator of the databases
there's no charge to access the data.
Intuit is trying to make it easy to get started.
They've posted sets
of templates for commonly used small business, corporate and nonprofit
databases. Once you've created your database's structure, you can copy
and paste data, perhaps from a spreadsheet. Since your data is viewable
through your Web browser, you need no special software to access it and
no special training.
Being able to share your data adds to its usefulness;
be shared among informal workgroups in your company, between vendors
customers or with your clients. Outside of work, they can be useful for
clubs, teams and other organizations. The data is encrypted, so it
be reasonably secure, though I wouldn't trust it with anything that
ought to be kept private. And since Quickbase makes nightly backups,
on its servers is probably safer than on many of our own computers.
Quickbase lives up to its promise of being easy to use
It's not going to replace big corporate databases, but its ability to
controlled access over the Internet has lots of potential uses.
I was able to quickly sign on and post a listing of
the 732 articles
I've had published in my 10 years as a computer journalist. You can see
it at www.quickbase.com/db/69msmfpd.