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Last post Author Topic: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)  (Read 18123 times)

J-Mac

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A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« on: October 29, 2007, 12:11:24 AM »
I have a number of documents relating to a single subject that I need to be able to catalog, search, etc.  I have MS Office 2003 which includes Access, and I have atarted to build a database for this a few times and then gave up -- I am just not interested in having to learn another computer language in order to be able to use a canned database program!

However I have looked high and low for a simpler database program - something where I don't need to actually set up the table and field configurations and then tweak it and watch it crash - or watch it NOT give me the output I need when I need it. I have not been able to find anything, though. I currently have most of the documents listed in an Excel spreadsheet but that quickly stopped being very useful.  I did find a number of "document tracking" applications but all were geared toward the "enterprise" (I don't remember them using something like that on Star Trek!!).  Meaning their prices were also geared toward the enterprise.

I'm in the process now of moving the data into a program called Web Idea Tree - a website design program that is actually derived from a program to track/organize books and publications.  It's better than a spreadsheet, but not quite what I had hoped it would be.

The documents are mostly correspondence and submitted forms involved in insurance claims - all mine - and the volume has grown to a few hundred.  I am continually asked to reiterate or confirm information that was already submitted on previous forms and other correspondence, and trying to find the appropriate documents to look up that information (and maintain as perfect consistency as possible) has become a nightmare without a good cross-reference system.

Does anyone know of a good program to track documents and their contents like this? 

Thanks.

Jim

rjbull

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2007, 06:44:17 AM »
Some of the PIMs seem more like databases than notetakers; you might take a quick look at Treeline or NeoMem.  Don't know if they'd be good enough, though...


Ralf Maximus

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2007, 08:10:11 AM »
Maybe just a desktop search engine?  Seed your documents with keywords and don't worry about an actual database.

tomos

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2007, 04:17:26 PM »
SQLnotes?
http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=10432.0

I dont say much more cause I dont know much more  :)
but
it's in beta will cover what you want from what I've read

EDIT: corrected the link there
Tom

J-Mac

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2007, 12:29:57 AM »
@rjbull:  Don't want to use a PIM for this - though iI'll check out the two links.  Thanks!

@Ralf:  I need more structure than that. Personal flaw, I suppose, but there it is!  Thanks!

@tomos:  Yes, I had looked at SQLNotes already and I don't think that will do it for me.  Thanks!

Jim

J-Mac

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2007, 12:32:00 AM »
I found a free application at LifeHacker - DocsVault.  I downloaded it and am checking it now.  A bit like Paperport, I understand.  Can't hurt to give it a try at that price!!

Thanks!

Jim

yacht_boy

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2007, 09:28:29 AM »
Zoho.com has two online offerings that are both pretty simple and easy to use.  I like zoho creator better:  http://creator.zoho.com/

There's also zoho database and reports.  Not sure why they have two offerings, but so it is:  http://db.zoho.com/ZDBHome.cc

J-Mac

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2007, 11:55:52 AM »
Thanks yacht_boy. I do have a membership at Zoho and have used their writer and spreadsheet apps, but I didn't know their database was worth trying - after a whilethey start to all look like Access!  But actually the VB part of Access is what trips me up every time.  I'm almost certain that Zoho wouldn't be using that.

I'll give it a good look!

Jim

J-Mac

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2007, 12:02:39 PM »
Zoho Creator does look tempting, but I will pass on it. I really prefer not to put private and personal information into any online application that has "social sharing" as its goal.  You have to remember to always check and make sure that whatever you enter there is defaulting to "Private" and if not you must remember to change it from Public to Private.

IMO, apps like this are fine to use for anything that you wouldn't mind the world seeing.  But if it is sensitive data at all, then this type of app is no good - too easy for it to be made a public document. And once it does, you'll never get it back to fully private - if anyone else has managed to download it before you catch it.

Thanks anyway!

Jim

J-Mac

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2007, 02:51:15 PM »
Has anyone tried DocsVault?  It looks to be a Passport clone, but at a much more amenable price.  (Free!!)

Only drawback I see is that it does not place the actual document in the selected vault folder, but instead places a copy of the original document.  This could lead to one editing a file but having the copy in DocsVault stay as it was when you stored it originally. Anytime you have two sets of identical files you stand a chance of having them become no longer identical.

Other than that - if I can deal successfully with that - it appears to be pretty much what I need.  It appears to create a three tiered hierarchical folder structure consisting of Cabinets, Drawers, and Folders.  Break them out as you see fit, and then you can place documents in them directly from Microsoft Office (it integrates with Office programs), or convert any other documents - scanned or simply sitting in other folders - into PDF or TIFF files and stores copies of them also.

I'm setting up a test database with DocsVault and I'll write it up later.

Thanks.

Jim

J-Mac

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2007, 11:25:10 PM »
Oh well... It was a nice thought.

Except it doesn't seem to be working! I try to add files to it from my PC - it opens a regular Windows Open dialog, but when I select a file and click OK, it is not being added.  Nothing.  I've tried several different combinations but I cannot add any files to it.

I wrote support but have not heard anything, though it's only been about 12 hours.  Anyway it sure does look nice.

Jim

Armando

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2007, 12:00:58 AM »
I'll follow that thread with interest. I started several thread related to organization, databases, etc.
like : Working with (display+format+restructure) big amount of data (text+graphics)?

I've decided to follow a path similar to what Ralf suggested (using a mix of X1, Archivarius, AHK personal tagging system, farr...). See : How do you tag (or even organize) your files?

I've tried many applications before. Maybe one of these might interest you (some of them you already know for sure)... but might not fufill your "simplicity" requirement:

- AskSam
- General knowledge base
- Ultra Recall
- myBase
- Surfulater

and maybe :

- ACDsee
- Tag2find
« Last Edit: October 31, 2007, 12:04:50 AM by Armando »

J-Mac

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2007, 12:36:35 AM »
I'll follow that thread with interest. I started several thread related to organization, databases, etc.
like : Working with (display+format+restructure) big amount of data (text+graphics)?

I've decided to follow a path similar to what Ralf suggested (using a mix of X1, Archivarius, AHK personal tagging system, farr...). See : How do you tag (or even organize) your files?

Hi Armando.  Currently I just try to keep a file structure as strictly as I can.  Though admittedly it does sometimes fall into disrepair to an extent!  I haven't found a tagging application that works very well for file management on my PC.  However I did start using DOpus a couple of months ago but haven't yet worked out a scheme of "favorites" that works for me.  I presently have Copernic as my desktop search engine but it's missing a lot.  I was using X1 for a couple years but after a while it seemed to keep getting corrupted somehow to the point that I would have to reinstall, reconfigure, and re-index it all too often.  I was recently reading the thread about Archivarius but I haven't tried it yet.  Basically I guess I have to decide right off the bat if I want to pay for it, since I understand that it limits users to only 10,000 files during the trial period, and that is, IMO, inadequate to properly test the application.

Currently I don't know that I have enough faith in any of the desktop search programs to trust them to help keep me straight with regard to project folder and files.  If I know something is there on my PC but Copernic cannot find it - and that happens a little too often - then I am reduced to scrolling through every darned file on my D: drive (I use D: for all data/media files - 500 GB).  And I really hate that!!

Bottom line:  I need a structured program to feel comfortable storing a large project's documentation.

Quote
I've tried many applications before. Maybe one of these might interest you (some of them you already know for sure)... but might not fufill your "simplicity" requirement:

- AskSam
- General knowledge base
- Ultra Recall
- myBase
- Surfulater

and maybe :

- ACDsee
- Tag2find


I'll look into them.  I do have ACDSee Pro Photo Manager.  Like the program... Hate the lackadaisical attitude of the company regarding support. Also, I am really liking another photo app I read about in a thread here - Exifpro.

Thanks Armando!

Jim

PPLandry

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2007, 03:56:08 PM »
Jim wrote
Quote
@tomos:  Yes, I had looked at SQLNotes already and I don't think that will do it for me.  Thanks!
I'm the author of SQLNotes and before being a PIM (which is it is not quite yet), it IS a flexible, simple to use database. From what you described, it should be a prefect match. Perhaps I can help in setting it up.
I'm also planning to soon add a folder monitoring system. Just tell it which folders to monitor and it will automatically create a item for each file (saves you from drag-droping files). You can then add your own attributes, sort, filter, launch, generate statistics, etc)

I'm more than willing to work with you on this. I've in the past, coached users through a real telephone conversation (no charge of course) getting going on SQLNotes. All users are welcomed to this free service.
Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present -- Albert Camus -- www.InfoQube.biz

Armando

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2007, 04:22:17 PM »
I'm also planning to soon add a folder monitoring system. Just tell it which folders to monitor and it will automatically create a item for each file (saves you from drag-droping files). You can then add your own attributes, sort, filter, launch, generate statistics, etc)

That sounds really interesting. Sadly, one thing that I find is missing from all database I've tried, is a file tracking system to track finame changes, file moving, etc. when they're only linked to the database and reside outside of it**. The only exception to that flaw would be tag2find.

I'm more than willing to work with you on this. I've in the past, coached users through a real telephone conversation (no charge of course) getting going on SQLNotes. All users are welcomed to this free service.

That's a very cool proposition!  :up:

J-Mac, if I was you...


** Of course, one doesn't need that eature if the files are completely transfered inside the database -- like you can do in asksam, ultra recall, myBase, etc.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2007, 04:25:12 PM by Armando »

PPLandry

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2007, 09:53:52 PM »
Armando wrote
Quote
Sadly, one thing that I find is missing from all database I've tried, is a file tracking system to track finame changes, file moving, etc. when they're only linked to the database and reside outside of it
Surely one could tap into an Windows event or message to update the database. Shortcuts are now automatically updated when a file is moved, so it is feasible. I'll look into it!

Quote
Of course, one doesn't need that eature if the files are completely transfered inside the database
I could certainly store files in the database, but am relunctant to do it. If someone gives a good reason to do it perhaps...
Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present -- Albert Camus -- www.InfoQube.biz

Armando

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2007, 10:13:17 PM »
Surely one could tap into an Windows event or message to update the database. Shortcuts are now automatically updated when a file is moved, so it is feasible. I'll look into it!

IMO, that would be an advantage over other solutions (like Ultra Recall or myBase).

I could certainly store files in the database, but am relunctant to do it. If someone gives a good reason to do it perhaps...

I share the same point of view : I don't like to store files (different file types) in one database. I've always disliked it, for many reasons.
- One of them is backing up -- while some will advocate that it facilitates backup**, I find that it makes it cumbersome and harder to manage : backing up a 2gb database is not as convenient as backing up a 34kb file.
- Another reason is that most stored files lose some of the features tightly linked to their specific format in the first place (why edit a word document in rtf????).
- Another one is that, usually, not all file types can be stored and managed in a database (so what's the point?? If I'm going to put files in a database I want to be able to put any file I want. Not only *.doc, *.txt, *.rtf, *.pdf., *.jpg and *.bmp).
- Another one is the fear of data corruption. Often, when a database is corrupted, and it happens, chances are you'll loose quite a bit of data.

So... yes, just linking is fine with me. Others might have other opinions on database and storing files in them (J-Mac ?). I'd be glad to hear them!  :)



**"you just have one file to backup", etc. . But I don't care, personally: I have a good backup program.

P.S. : I just tried the new beta : it's looking real good. But I'll either post about it in the SQLNotes Forum or in the other thread focusing on SQLNotes.

PPLandry

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2007, 10:36:01 PM »
Armando wrote
Quote
I share the same point of view : I don't like to store files (different file types) in one database. I've always disliked it, for many reasons.
Glad to see we're on the same wavelength. Plus file management becomes more difficult. Your hard disk IS a database with a UI fine-tuned to effectively manage files. To replicate this in another program is redundant. Not much is gained by having the file inside the database. Many tools can be used to effectively manage your files (i.e. I personally like synctoy for worry-free backups on external HD). All this is only my opinion of course. I'm interested in hearing other views ...
Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present -- Albert Camus -- www.InfoQube.biz
« Last Edit: October 31, 2007, 10:38:21 PM by PPLandry »

Armando

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2007, 10:43:29 PM »
Your hard disk IS a database with a UI fine-tuned to effectively manage files. To replicate this in another program is redundant.

This is exactly my point of view -- which I've expressed in a number of threads here.

J-Mac

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2007, 12:38:02 AM »
Jim wrote
Quote
@tomos:  Yes, I had looked at SQLNotes already and I don't think that will do it for me.  Thanks!
I'm the author of SQLNotes and before being a PIM (which is it is not quite yet), it IS a flexible, simple to use database. From what you described, it should be a prefect match. Perhaps I can help in setting it up.
I'm also planning to soon add a folder monitoring system. Just tell it which folders to monitor and it will automatically create a item for each file (saves you from drag-droping files). You can then add your own attributes, sort, filter, launch, generate statistics, etc)

I'm more than willing to work with you on this. I've in the past, coached users through a real telephone conversation (no charge of course) getting going on SQLNotes. All users are welcomed to this free service.

Looks like I missed a lot of posts here today!

Yes, your proposition DOES sound very inviting, PPLandry.  Interesting!  When I read the thread about SQLNotes the program name of "Notes" had me thinking just that - Notes; not database management. Though I do realize that SQL is indeed a database program, I wasn't primed to think that way--Notes, notes, notes.  Hey, if you name your program as Notes, I'm going to view it as such!  (I think very simply at times. Well, MOST of the time!!)

I imagine I'll need to install an SQL database application -- or actually as a service -- on my PC for that.  MSSQL? Or another?  I have MSSQL running on another PC; installed with another program I use very occasionally, but it stores all its data in a MSSQL database.  My only problem with it is pretty minor. It is running as a service all the time even though I only run that program monthly at the most. Sometimes every two or three months. And once in a while another application or service - can't remember which - will have a conflict with MSSQL and I have to basically relearn all to troubleshoot the issue. I have at times disabled the service until I need to use that program, and then I have to activate it again.

When I read about SQL Notes I didn't give it much attention because I have a few notes programs and I couldn't imagine why I would want to install an SQL database app just for another Notes app. But it sounds like you intend to use the database functions a lot more than for Notes.

We can certainly talk about it.

Thanks!

Jim

J-Mac

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2007, 12:47:10 AM »
...So... yes, just linking is fine with me. Others might have other opinions on database and storing files in them (J-Mac ?). I'd be glad to hear them!  :)....



**"you just have one file to backup", etc. . But I don't care, personally: I have a good backup program.

P.S. : I just tried the new beta : it's looking real good. But I'll either post about it in the SQLNotes Forum or in the other thread focusing on SQLNotes.


Armando, I agree that it is preferable to keep the files outside of the database.  Of course since these files will all mostly be scanned PDF's of hard copies received via postal mail, and as they are all related, I would be creating a separate set of folders specifically for this project, and not just have them scattered about waiting for a desktop search program to pull them together virtually for me.  As I mentioned before - I need the formal structure or I always feel I am missing a file or twenty!!  So whether the database program keeps the files all together in one place for me or I do that part on my own doesn't matter that much.  What IS critical to me is that the database - whichever type it may be - keep track of the files, know if or when they have changed (without overt action required by me), and can track any moves I make with the files. Because if storing the files is left to me independent of the database or document management program, you can be sure that I will occasionally rework the folder structure I build for them as the volume grows and I determine the need for improvements.

Thanks!!

Jim

Armando

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2007, 01:50:21 AM »
I imagine I'll need to install an SQL database application -- or actually as a service -- on my PC for that.  MSSQL? Or another? 

I'm not sure if I understand what you mean... but you don't need anything special to run SQLnotes. Just download the *.exe here : http://www.sqlnotes....abid/61/Default.aspx , install it and...  run it...

J-Mac

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2007, 02:30:30 AM »
I don't have to install am SQL database app or server?  Are you sure it isn't included in the setup for SQL Notes?

Thanks - going to sleep now - hopefully!!

Jim

tomos

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2007, 06:27:56 AM »
I don't have to install am SQL database app or server?  Are you sure it isn't included in the setup for SQL Notes?

no, nothing extra there - or if there is it's all included in the exe file.
Simply install :)
Tom

PPLandry

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Re: A Simple Database Program? (Or is that an Oxymoron itself?!)
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2007, 09:28:44 AM »
I don't have to install am SQL database app or server?  Are you sure it isn't included in the setup for SQL Notes?
SQL in the name refers to the powerful search/filter that is built-in SQLNotes. The back-end database could be anything. Currrently use JET because it is installed on every PC and it does the job. Plus Office apps can readily link to SQLNotes data without installing a separate ODBC link. (Each grid in SN is visible to any ODBC enabled app -- Word for mail-merge, e-mail-merge, Excel, Access, etc) It is therefore easy to share SN data with users that don't have it.

BTW the name will change... any suggestions?
Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present -- Albert Camus -- www.InfoQube.biz