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Author Topic: ZohoDB - Online Free Relational Database  (Read 12701 times)
AEngineer
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« on: May 19, 2008, 08:27:46 PM »

Basic Info

App NameZoho DB & Reports
App URL http://db.zoho.com
App Version ReviewedAs of 5/18/2008 - Constantly updated
Test System SpecsXP-SP3, on Dell P390 2GB RAM
Supported OSesWeb-Based
Support MethodsForum
Upgrade PolicyCurrently Free - They update online
Pricing SchemeCurrently Free - I'd expect a  "Pro" in future.
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product REVIEWER: I'm a simple user - no financial relationship

Intro:


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.

The Good
 
  • 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.

Conclusions
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.

« Last Edit: May 19, 2008, 08:35:31 PM by AEngineer » Logged

Jim Mitchell
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2008, 06:00:21 AM »

Good review. This information is useful. I am always looking for stuff like this for when people with intermediate skills ask for a way to do something a little more advanced then generic HTML on the web. Sometimes solutions like ZohoDB are good stepping stones to more advanced, and capable, solutions. In such a case as this, it is an intermediate step between CSV files on a server and moving to a self-administered MySQL server.
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shibualexis
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2008, 11:21:20 AM »

Hi,

Thanks for using Zoho DB & Reports and for the nice post introducing it to your readers! Thanks for the Good Review too.
We are working on the Formatting and the help documentation right now which will be addressed very soon. Other issues that you have pointed out in "The needs improvement section" will also be addressed in our future updates.

Note: Support Methods also includes Toll Free where customers can contact us in the toll free number 888 900 9646 or send email to support "at" zohodb "dot" com where our support engineers will be happy to assist the customers.

Thanks & Regards,
Shibu Alexis
Zoho DB & Reports
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Nod5
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2008, 06:13:30 PM »

Nice minireview AEngineer!
Google spreadsheets can be used as a primitive database for google maps (or something like that). It's very easy to set up through this wizard:
http://gmaps-samples.goog...pwizard/makecustommap.htm
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AEngineer
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2008, 07:00:42 PM »

Nice minireview AEngineer!
Google spreadsheets can be used as a primitive database for google maps (or something like that).


For me the big difference between Google spreadsheet and ZohoDB is that Zoho is truly relational if still somewhat limited.  So far as I'm aware GSS isn't.  I use it and love it for other purposes.
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Jim Mitchell
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2008, 10:13:23 PM »

Thank you for the excellent review.

I have been searching for a relatively easy to use database application for a very specific need I have. (A search of the forums here will show my pleas for assistance in this).

I did try Zoho Creator when it was initially introduced and I personally had a lot of difficulty in creating anything I could use. I wasn't sure at the time whether it was due to my own lack of database skills or if it was truly that problemsome. I subsequently found many discussions where others wrote of similar difficulties and decided that both reasons were likely valid: my meager database skills and the program's own shortcomings were problems.

I did end up solving my problems with a different application. But at some point I will go back and give this one another look.

Thanks!

Jim
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