|App Name||Zoho DB & Reports|
|App Version Reviewed||As of 5/18/2008 - Constantly updated|
|Test System Specs||XP-SP3, on Dell P390 2GB RAM|
|Upgrade Policy||Currently Free - They update online|
|Pricing Scheme||Currently Free - I'd expect a "Pro" in future.|
|Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product||REVIEWER: I'm a simple user - no financial relationship|
Who is this app designed for: Someone with minimal programming expertise who wishes to create a moderately complex relational database online - although an understanding of relational database tables is probably a good idea.
- It works
- Pretty easy to learn
- Easy to embed what you create in your own web page via an iframe (they provide the code) or directly publish a particular view
- Database can be shared in part of whole (though I haven't tried this)
- Pretty good reports that allow summarizing and a crude form of grouping
The needs improvement section
- Little control over format yet - the output is a spreadsheet in appearance with no obvious way to control column width, font, weight etc.
- No auto-incrementing the key field in tables - it's up to you to ensure that you have a unique entry so far as I can tell
- Sometimes slow to accept updates, though generally pretty responsive.
- Help is not evident. You need to figure it out yourself. Presumably it's in the forums, but I didn't find much helpful there.
- If you make relations between tables you must put an entry in every linking field or the record won't show up in a query - this one took me a while to figure out.
Why I think you should use this product
If you need to produce an updatable list for a small-scale website this is great - no worry about PHP, MySQL (and less control of course). I tested it by creating a six-table database of equipment that my academic department has for common use in the department. After stumbling a bit with the problem noted above on required entries in linking fields it all worked as I wanted. Total time to learn, setup and populate the tables (only about 20 pieces of equipment), create the website to embed the result was 3 hours - vastly better than an effort with PHP a year or two ago. Here's what the output looks like.
How does it compare to similar apps
I'm not aware of any similar web-based apps that are free with similar functionality, though I'm sure Google is working on one. The closest approximations in the desktop world are Access, FileMaker and OpenOffice Base. All offer far more control and features for the single user, but they don't allow easy creation of a web page. Here are some others that I believe are less capable either because their not as fully relational or because the fees kick in very quickly.
- Lazybase.com - I took a quick look at this by creating a test DB. It doesn't seem to offer as much user control. It's more aimed at a rating system for restaurants, books etc.
- Quickbase.com (Intuit) - This one has been around a long time and is clearly very capable. The problem is that the minimum appears to be $250/month - not for me.
As I've emphasized throughout, the beauty of this app is that it's web-based and thus able to be readily shared and published. It's nowhere near as finished as even OpenOffice Base, but it sits cleanly in it's own niche and can be very helpful in a rapid manner.
Links to other reviews of this application
I'm sure that there must be some, but I couldn't find any devoted to the database portion of the much larger Zoho suite . It's fairly new.