Palm OS Database Review: Database
Professional, HanDBase, MobileDB and SmartList To Go Posted December 2004
Page 2: DDH HanDBase for
Palm Professional 3.0k
Software’s HanDBase has accumulated quite a following
in the community. There are hundreds of free databases available
for it on the web. This review provided a convenient opportunity
to see how HanDBase has progressed.
I found HanDBase to be a rather simple text list-type
database. Successive screens do not drill down through the database
structure. Databases are really just tables. In fact, this proved
true for the remaining apps in this review as well. HanDBase makes
extensive use of pop-up lists for filling fields when editing records.
While that makes sense in some contexts, they seem to apply it to
every single field. That results in the user being unable to ascertain
which fields have populated pop-up lists and which don’t without
physically trying them. I would have counseled moderation on this
point in the design.
HanDBase provides for a database’s
structural modification through a central Details screen. From
there, the user can change field, form, and view structures, syncing
status, set alarms and authorship, as well as security. These settings
and preferences can be quite extensive, giving the user innumerable
options. The alarm function stands unique amongst the offerings.
Colorful icons access these features, adding an attractive appearance
to the program. HanDBase works with forms through a separate application
that links to the primary app or can be separately executed.
Security provides a good example of the flexibility
available. It will not only restrict access with a password, but
also encrypt. These encryption settings aren't limited to
the entire database, but also work on individual records and fields.
Or, you can disable encryption altogether. Security can be set
on actions that the creator wishes to restrict, like opening, adding,
editing, deleting, beaming, or even changing properties.
HanDBase has a 100-field limit and a 200 database
maximum. It also sports a quick search capability and can now access
databases on the card. It supports 14 different field types, including
relational joins to/from other databases, and can nest cascading
pop-up lists. HanDBase can create reports, but only on numeric, date,
time, calculated, and checkbox fields.
The accompanying desktop app almost exactly parallels the handheld
functionality. The desktop provides the primary means of import/export
capability. HanDBase desktop directly exports to Word, HTML, XML,
CSV, and Excel. It only imports through CSV files, though. The Pro
version I tested also exports to Access. I tested the latter. As
might be expected, the simple table formats exported to Access just
fine. Direct conduits for HotSyncing are available as plug-ins for
a variety of formats, including images, TextFormat, Access, etc.
HanDBase’s HotSync conduit provides more than just the standard
possibilities. It will automatically backup changed databases if
so requested. The user can also execute a command after database
syncs, including triggering on a particular user’s sync, and
keep a verbose log of actions.
well-earned its popularity. Its combination of simplicity and flexibility
invite a wide range of authors to produce useful lists for the user
community, many available on DDH
Software’s website. The tested HanDBase Pro with Access
support sells for $39.99, with other levels selling from $29.99 to
$99.99 for the Enterprise Edition. Mac and PPC versions are also
for sale. In addition, HotSync conduit capability for images, TextFormat
and other simple formats sell for $9.99 each, and more complex ones
like Access and FileMaker Pro go for $19.99 each, ODBC compatibility
Highly flexible security settings
Encryption of tables or fields
Relational capability within a table
Easy to use
Nice selection of export formats
Quickly becomes very expensive if you need multiple add-ins
Must drill though several screens to get to forms and views