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Author Topic: SQLNotes...what is it exactly?  (Read 407644 times)
superboyac
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« on: October 17, 2007, 05:03:57 PM »

http://www.sqlnotes.net/

This program has been mentioned in a couple of threads.  I checked it out and tried it out.  What is this for?  Is it an outliner for the Ecco freaks out there?  That's cool, because Ecco's outliner is very cool compared to the standard rtf bullet/numbering scheme.  But it also seems to have some Access-like capabilities.  I just don't get it.  It seems like an odd pairing of features.

So, what kind of applications is this program used for?  Why would I use it instead of Access, or Excel, or a regular notetaker, or other outliner software?  Actually, there aren't many ecco-like outliners, so I actually understand that part.
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PPLandry
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2007, 06:37:52 PM »

I'm the designer of SQLNotes (code name) so I'll gladly answer. I've been meaning to start a SQLNotes thread, so thanks to you superboyac !

The ideal information management app must be an excellent outliner with multiple parents support (when required), an excellent linker (i.e. like the web), an excellent tagger, an excellent editor supporting rich text editing in the outline AND in a second rich text window, support flat and tree-structured display with or without a data grid, usable as a flexible database supporting user-defined fields, calculations (both equations and user-defined functions), reporting and an have excellent search engine. Finally, it needs to have a customizable UI, support drag-drop and have links to all other major apps. Idealy, it should be able to pull information from external sources as well.

IMO, ALL these features are required to adequately organize all kinds of information (not just a specific kind of information), and this for just about any user.

Ecco is/was an excellent outliner+data grid, but had no item to item linker, and forced structured tree representation, which may or may not suit the specific information or the way a particular person wants to work/organize its information. It had rich text outlines and customizable UI but for the rest, the above features were not great or not there at all. Specifically, it does not have an editing pane (i.e 2nd pane).

As for 2 panes outliners, zillions of them, they lack the data grid to enter useful data in the outline so they are mainly good at text editing (i.e. reducing the number of word processor files). When the outline only represents text, a grid is not necessary, but when numbers, categories, notes, etc are required, a grid and a properties pane is a must. None can perform calculations (neither row nor column calculations) and data analysis.

Finally, no other product I know makes its data available to other apps. SQLNotes data is accessible to all Office apps and other suites (through ODBC links). No one want his or her information locked in a program. Exporting is just not enough nowadays.

SQLNotes has ALL of the above features.

SQLNotes development started 4 years ago. As a flexible database/ouliner/grid it is being used by a number of companies for more than 3 years. It is now in beta tests as a PIM (actually closer to alpha stage). It takes the best of Ecco, and improves upon it, taking the concept much further.

The current beta available at www.sqlnotes.net is very stable. You are all welcomed to download a free copy.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 10:12:02 AM by PPLandry » Logged

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superboyac
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2007, 12:41:03 AM »

Very intriguing.  It's a very ambitious project you've started.

I agree with just about everything you've said.  What I doubt is if what you are trying to do can actually be accomplished effectively.  I'm having enough trouble finding the best notetaking software for myself (handling lots of plain text notes, "reducing the number of word processor files" as you say).

I know there are a lot of PIM programs out there that try to do much more that text editing, by including addressbook, calendar, todo lists, alarms, etc. modules in their programs.  I don't like these programs because they inevitably will struggle to do any of them well.  SQLnotes, however, applies this concept a little differently.  it sounds like the user can use the program to create his own specific modules based on his specific needs.  That is very unique and cool, indeed.  Very ambitious.

I am going to try this program for a while and see how it feels.  if you read the big notetaking review I wrote, I think I mentioned somewhere that even the simple notetaking programs can benefit from an ecco-style outliner rather than the normal rtf outliners.  i never used ecco, but I always loved its outliner.
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2007, 07:00:53 AM »

I've been one of the beta testers for quite some time.  I'm also really familiar with ECCO.  One of the intriguing things for me has been the ability to outline and use other fields as I choose to work with information.

It's really easy to create hierarchical to do lists and contact lists ala ECCO, but since it's also a database, the ability to create calculated fields and actions is really good.  I'm a database programmer and SQLNotes will be able to connect to ODBC data sources, which means the information won't be locked inside a proprietary container.  It also permits the software to be used as a front end for data systems, such as SQL and others.

Also, coming soon will be an integrated calendar, but Pierre is also working on Gantt charting for project work and he already is able to put in pivot tables and charts.  All of this puts his program beyond ECCO.

What makes it a winner is the ability to customize the system with fields that meet the specific needs of the user.

I hope others give it a try.

Mike
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sri
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2007, 07:11:59 AM »

Looks intimidating for a person w/ simple needs like me.
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« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2007, 07:21:33 AM »

Looks very ambitious and cool, glad to see you here PPLandry.
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PPLandry
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2007, 08:26:33 AM »

Looks intimidating for a person w/ simple needs like me.

Yes there are advanced features, but the basic setup is an Excel-style grid (with outlining features) and an optional rich text editing pane with standard editing features (font, bullets, images, links, tables). Each item in the outliner can have a separate text content.

As such, it is basically the same as any other 2-pane outliner.

Many users with no database experience (typical 1-800 infoline support  - CRM personel) have used it and rapidly felt confortable. Give it a try if you want!
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superboyac
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2007, 10:11:10 AM »

Also, coming soon will be an integrated calendar, but Pierre is also working on Gantt charting for project work and he already is able to put in pivot tables and charts.  All of this puts his program beyond ECCO.
That would be highly useful for work applications.

One more question, for us non-programmer types, how would I take advantage of the calculation and database-like features of this program?  When would I be organizing my information (notes, webclips, addressbook contacts, etc.) and think, "hmm, I need to make this calculation"?
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PPLandry
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2007, 10:21:07 AM »

One more question, for us non-programmer types, how would I take advantage of the calculation and database-like features of this program?  When would I be organizing my information (notes, webclips, addressbook contacts, etc.) and think, "hmm, I need to make this calculation"?
I work as a consultant. So I use it for billing purposes. It can calculate the hrs worked from the start-top times and the HrNonWorked. Circular equations are legal in SQLNotes (unlike Excel), so I have the choice of entering EndTime or Duration.

In a list of tasks, I calculate an Urgency flag based on the priority, required date and current date (actually, I also include %Done and ExpectedDuration in the equation). Then I can set the item back color based on the Urgency figure. Items in Red require immediate attention for example, Yellow for less urgent ones. The equation is automatically re-evaluated so tasks will automatically change from Yellow to Red as required!

If you want to enter car information (km, litres), it can calculate consumption.
Equations are also used to handle text. You can use it to extract phone numbers, web and email address, etc.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 10:26:02 AM by PPLandry » Logged

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superboyac
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2007, 10:39:19 AM »

Man, this program is intense.  Usually, I can figure out how to use a program within a few minutes.   I just can't get my mind around this.

OK, here's a specific example I'm interested.  Here at work, a group of us play basketball at lunch.  I wanted to start keeping track of the wins/losses of each person to see who has the highest winning percentage.  I started a database in Access, but it became too much work for something as trivial as basketball, so I'm wondering if SQLnotes can do it easier.  I don't know Access so it was difficult creating an input form and to show summary statistics without spending too much time in it.
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superboyac
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2007, 10:44:49 AM »

This thing keeps crashing on me...I try to pin the html window so it doesn't auto-hide, and when I try to work, the program crashes.
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PPLandry
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2007, 11:09:03 AM »

This thing keeps crashing on me...I try to pin the html window so it doesn't auto-hide, and when I try to work, the program crashes.
Make sure you don't enable the Office 2007 theme. Current version has a bug with this feature. Tools>Theme>Office 2003. It is fixed in the coming version.
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PPLandry
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2007, 11:25:20 AM »

OK, here's a specific example I'm interested.  Here at work, a group of us play basketball at lunch.  I wanted to start keeping track of the wins/losses of each person to see who has the highest winning percentage.  I started a database in Access, but it became too much work for something as trivial as basketball, so I'm wondering if SQLnotes can do it easier.  I don't know Access so it was difficult creating an input form and to show summary statistics without spending too much time in it.
There are many ways to do this. Assuming you want to use your SQLNotes database to put all sorts of things you could:
- Create a number field for each player (view>manage fields, name=player name, type=number). In the Hierarchy operations set Parent=sum (of children). This will do the totalling.
- Create a new grid (or reuse an existing one) and add each player field (right-click on the column or drag-drop from the properties pane). Include a date field also.
- Add an item in the grid: Lunch Basketball
- Add a sub-item for each game. Enter the date in the "date' field and for each player that won, put 1 in the corresponding cell (if in the player field, you set the default value to 1, you'll be able to fill the cell on a double-click).
- You'll see that the parent item (lunch Basketball) will total the winnings of each player.

I can think of at least 4 other ways to do it, but this is a good one. Thmbsup

p.s. If you want to be fancy, you can set-up a user-defined function to show the name of the player(s) with the most winnings in a separate text field.
p.p.s. If you have this SQLNotes database on your work-place network, you can give access to the players so they see this information, using nothing else than Excel. Otherwise with 2-click you can generate an HTML page with the results and post it somewhere.

[edit] p.p.p.s If you want to be real fancy, you could put in the HTML pane for the lunch basketball item, rich text summarizing this activity and for each game item, comments, pictures, etc.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 01:22:41 PM by PPLandry » Logged

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superboyac
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2007, 11:35:15 AM »

OK, this will be my test project for this program.  I have to go back to work right now, but I'll try this again later.

Actually, I was unable to use the program because it kept crashing.  I'll ask about this more later.
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PPLandry
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2007, 01:43:11 PM »

Actually, I was unable to use the program because it kept crashing.  I'll ask about this more later.
Did you try to use a different theme than Office 2007?
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PPLandry
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« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2007, 08:27:18 PM »

I did a sample for you (I can send it or put in on the sqlnotes web site if you want). It took me a approx. 20 minutes. It was fun!

Here is a screenshot


Clicking Basketball automatically fills in Date. I used a user-defined function to fill-in the BestPlayer field
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 08:30:47 PM by PPLandry » Logged

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Armando
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« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2007, 10:58:38 PM »

Pierre, don't forget to tell us when the next beta is out... I want to try the calendar, recurrence capabilities, alarm, gantt charting, etc.  thumbs up

(I just saw you answered my post at the SQLnotes forum -- I wasn't notified, for some reason. Thanks!)
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PPLandry
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« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2007, 11:01:34 PM »

Pierre, don't forget to tell us when the next beta is out... I want to try the calendar, recurrence capabilities, alarm, gantt charting, etc.  thumbs up

(I just saw you answered my post at the SQLnotes forum -- I wasn't notified, for some reason. Thanks!)
Will do for sure!. Current forum software does not do notification  thumb down. New version is out which does, so I'll upgrade when I have some free time.
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superboyac
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« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2007, 12:42:10 PM »

PPLandry, that's cool!  (You didn't have to do that, but I appreciate it.)  I'll try to do it next week, or go ahead and send me the file and maybe I can work off of yours.

Here is what I envisioned the database to behave like:
--every day, the players will enter how many games they won, and how many they lost (2 entries).  So for each player, each day will have a win entry and a loss entry.

--In some kind of pivot table (or something similar), a chart will rank the players from the highest winning percentage to the lowest.

--In Access, I wanted to have a nice sophisticated form entry, but I can't figure out how to do it yet.  Basically, in the form, the player would choose their name from the list.  Once they do that, a display will show the stats from their last 10 days.  Another display will show the current rankings.  Then, the player would pick the date, enter their wins and losses, press "submit" and the database will get updated.

Something along the lines of that.

Here are some screenshots:
   
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PPLandry
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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2007, 04:22:47 PM »

>In some kind of pivot table (or something similar), a chart will rank the players from the highest winning percentage to the lowest

Yes the built-in pivot table in sQLNotes can be used to display it that way

>a display will show the stats from their last 10 days

No problem. Simply set the grid filter to date > now -10 and it will filter out older data.

>Basically, in the form, the player would choose their name from the list

I'd thought that you would've preferred to have separate columns for each player. That way, the top item show the summary. If you want it the way you described, it is even simpler. Create a text field PlayerName, a number field GamesWon, and use a date. Then, you can use the SQLNotes pivot table to view the result and will be able to order by ranking.
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tomos
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« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2007, 05:03:20 PM »

 embarassed
hah,
I managed to make the getting started documentation disappear



I right clicked in lower pane & selected browse view &, well, it disappeared

anyone got any tips for how to get it back -
should have read it first, huh?  embarassed

EDIT: restart doesnt bring it back or any of those buttons dont seem to help
it is now in browser mode - context menu seems to be same as Firefox
« Last Edit: October 19, 2007, 05:11:16 PM by tomos » Logged

Tom
PPLandry
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« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2007, 05:56:39 PM »

In the current version, it is a bit too easy to erase content  huh I'll add confirmations.

You can download the sample database from the www.sqlnotes.net or read the same info on the SQLNotes web site.

You can also, put it back in by simply drag-dropping the web-site content to the HTML editing pane. That's how it was created in the first place!
« Last Edit: October 19, 2007, 06:07:44 PM by PPLandry » Logged

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PPLandry
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« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2007, 04:03:37 PM »

@Tomos,

Were you able to get the text back using one of the 2 methods?
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PPLandry
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« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2007, 11:33:59 PM »

If there are any Ecco Pro users here, version 0.9.18 of SQLNotes (out this week for sure) now includes an Ecco Importer!
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tomos
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« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2007, 12:33:41 PM »

You can download the sample database from the www.sqlnotes.net or read the same info on the SQLNotes web site.

You can also, put it back in by simply drag-dropping the web-site content to the HTML editing pane. That's how it was created in the first place!
@Tomos,

Were you able to get the text back using one of the 2 methods?

I downloaded it fine thanks -will try other method too though!
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