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Author Topic: GS-Base Mini-Review  (Read 7795 times)

wraith808

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GS-Base Mini-Review
« on: April 03, 2014, 02:05:14 PM »
Citadel5 dropped by to offer a 50% discount on GS-base until April 8th.  A database?  For less that $20?  And 50% off?  I had to try this...

Basic Info

App NameGS-Base
App URLhttp://www.citadel5.com/gs-base.htm
App Version Reviewed12.1.5
Test System SpecsWindows 7 64-bit/32-bit
Supported OSesXP/Vista/7/8 32-bit/64-bit
Support MethodsForums - http://forum-eng.citadel5.com/ and e-mail.
Upgrade PolicyFree upgrades for 12 months - not sure if upgrade after that is full price.  Update from the Author: Upgrading: After 12 months current users can purchase a newer version at any time @ 50% off.
Trial Version Available?Limited Trial version is available - Limitations listed: http://www.citadel5.com/trial.htm
Pricing Scheme$19.95 (bulk pricing available) - http://www.citadel5.com/ordering.htm
Author Donation Linkwraith808

gsb12_scr1.pngGS-Base Mini-Review


GS-base is a personal generic database application.  It touts size of tables and speed with up to 12 million records in a table and 2047 fields in one record.  It uses a format that looks much like a spreadsheet for entry, and supports calculations and formulas in fields.  It has a wide variety of support for industry standard file formats, and stores the database in an industry standard zip file format.  GS-Base is a database that is for the most part aimed at people that use excel or other spreadsheet formats, but want to create a database.  It can be used for a wide variety of purposes- no specific function is inbuilt, though there are many tools for export, forms, and merging.


Mini-Review of Usage

At the time when I first decided to use it, I'd just started playing The Elder Scrolls Online, and wanted to quickly create a lightweight database that I'd be able to use to collect information on alchemy reagents quickly, but still ensure I'd still be able to use the data when I had time for a more robust solution.  In a couple of hours, I'd created a database that served that purpose, and output the sum of the final data to a format that I could reference during the game.  It was very intuitive for the most part.  

The database is stored in a zip file- by default, it uses industry standard .zip, but can use .gsb instead, though the internal format remains the same.  Inside the .zip, the database format is plain text, comma delimited, which is a plus.  Blob fields are stored in their entirety in their original format- another plus.

My Database
GSBase1.pngGS-Base Mini-Review

The field dialog, with a standard field
GSBase2.pngGS-Base Mini-Review

The field dialog, with a calculated field
GSBase3.pngGS-Base Mini-Review

I've enclosed the plain text of the main database table, and the PDF output of a dump of that table.

There's a lot more in the way of functionality that I haven't touched- it happened to come up for sale when I had a use for it, and wanted to give an initial impression to see if I wanted to purchase it.  Even at the normal price of $19.95 it's a steal.  But at 50% off, it's a no brainer.  You just don't find this level of functionality in a database for $10.  I'll update as I use more- but I definitely recommend it from what I've seen in my brief trial. I've already purchased the full version, and just from my use so far, count it as a gain.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2014, 10:40:52 AM by wraith808 »

mouser

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 02:12:39 PM »
Thanks for posting this!

40hz

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 06:10:26 PM »
Interesting!!! (I might as well confess I'm a database junky  ;D).

And at $10 with the discount, it seems worth buying a license just to check it out. 8)

wraith808

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2014, 10:41:33 AM »
I updated with the (very generous) upgrade terms.

oblivion

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2014, 05:29:21 PM »
I saw this via the newsletter yesterday, so I'm coming late to the party.

The spreadsheet style is a bit of a culture shock for me -- I'm used to record-oriented databases rather than Excel-ish stuff. However, the developer is extremely responsive and finding a modern database package that can cope with multi-gigabyte files in all of the various xbase formats I have a lot of legacy data in is a complete delight. Particularly seamless support for Clipper and FoxPro memo file formats (as of today!) is more than slightly marvellous!

I'm less sure about the techniques for building joins between tables -- but that's probably more a culture thing than a real problem, and for people who are migrating from Excel's db management methodologies, the mechanisms for doing stuff -- particularly pivot tables -- will seem like home from home.

Overall: excellent!
-- bests, Tim

...this space unintentionally left blank.

wraith808

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2014, 06:24:00 PM »
I plan on doing a review of GS-Calc soon.  I started looking at that, and was just as impressed.  Just pressed for time currently.

oblivion

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2014, 04:38:13 PM »
Another addendum... I've been using GS-Base (now up to version 13.3)  for a small variety of things -- from interrogating multi-gigabyte xbase tables to designing a replacement for a userID and password generator that I originally wrote for my old and now long-dead Psion and although I've got a few minor niggles with the user interface, the author's extremely helpful and responsive -- he fixed a couple of bugs I encountered with large tables within hours of me reporting them -- and, as wraith808 says above, you just don't find this level of functionality in a database even for $20.

It's not a "proper" relational database. However, you can build links between tables in a way that allows you to replicate quite a lot of the functionality you're likely to want, and the sheer speed of it compared to my (yes, I know) aging copy of Lotus Approach coupled with the fact that it's actively supported has to mean it's worth me migrating my various weird databasey bits into it.

So far, I've only tried the portable form on a reasonably beefy 64-bit Windows 7 machine, but I suspect it'll still be fast and functional on more limited systems -- I'll experiment and try to remember to report back. ;)

Oh yeah; and the installer is under 2Mb. That's Two Megabytes. For a full-featured database application.

Can you tell I think it's pretty darn good?
-- bests, Tim

...this space unintentionally left blank.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2014, 04:50:05 PM by oblivion »

IainB

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GS-Base on BDJ again today, priced @ US$9.95
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2015, 07:28:03 PM »
Heads up: This is on BDJ again today, priced @ US$9.95 (usually $19.95).
About 7 hours left (might be extended?).
Go to: http://www.bitsdujou...m/software/gs-base-2

I decided to buy it for trial, after reading the BDJ notes and this review.
I wondered whether it could be a useful PIM for my purposes, so shall suck-it-and-see.

Steven Avery

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2016, 01:22:02 AM »
It was there today.  An another 1/2 hour.  Looks good, more robust than Listpro, some similar advantages.

IainB

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2016, 12:53:53 PM »
I just now applied for registration on the discussion forum at Citadel5.
With my eyesight I generally need a pair of specs to read books and a different pair of specs (with a different depth of field) to read laptop screens.
However, when submitting the registration request, I found the Citadel5 discussion forum's security code image sooo hard to distinguish that I began to think that I must have a major eyesight problem if most people could read it OK.    :o
These security images are intended to filter out spam bots, the theory being that only bona fide real people can read them, but I began to wonder whether in fact the filter was designed to ensure that only aliens with weird eyesight that saw things in a different wavelength to humans got through.

mwb1100

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2016, 02:57:38 PM »
I began to wonder whether in fact the filter was designed to ensure that only aliens with weird eyesight that saw things in a different wavelength to humans got through

Yeah - that's one of the worst CAPTCHAs I've come across:

captcha.pngGS-Base Mini-Review

wraith808

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2016, 05:21:21 PM »
it's the reason I stopped going to the site.

IainB

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2016, 06:01:58 PM »
it's the reason I stopped going to the site.
________________________
I had a LOL at that. It was exactly what I had thought too - I mean, "Did I really need to join that forum if it meant that I had to go through that CAPTCHA?"
The answer, of course, was "No".
That made me wonder whether the CAPTCHA wasn't deliberately off-putting, to dissuade casual use of the forum.

oblivion

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2016, 04:09:37 AM »
Quote
That made me wonder whether the CAPTCHA wasn't deliberately off-putting, to dissuade casual use of the forum.
There may be some truth in that. I registered on the Citadel5 forum in May 2014 and found the captcha so hard that I had to ask in email (to forum@citadel5.com) for the account to be created for me. It's not a very busy forum. Can't think why... :)

I do get the impression that Jarek is a sole operator and might believe that managing a busy forum might take more time than he wants to devote to it. At least emailed requests from known users is likely to keep noise down.
-- bests, Tim

...this space unintentionally left blank.

wraith808

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2016, 12:27:15 PM »
Quote
That made me wonder whether the CAPTCHA wasn't deliberately off-putting, to dissuade casual use of the forum.
There may be some truth in that. I registered on the Citadel5 forum in May 2014 and found the captcha so hard that I had to ask in email (to forum@citadel5.com) for the account to be created for me. It's not a very busy forum. Can't think why... :)

I do get the impression that Jarek is a sole operator and might believe that managing a busy forum might take more time than he wants to devote to it. At least emailed requests from known users is likely to keep noise down.

I think your supposition is most likely correct.  He's very responsive by e-mail.  Which was one of the reasons I never bothered after I couldn't solve the CAPTCHA.  And also finding out that this is basically a subscription by another name, and the speed of changing releases.

mwb1100

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2016, 12:42:02 PM »
finding out that this is basically a subscription by another name

Can you clarify that? The purchase page says that the version you buy is good forever.  You don't get free updates after a year, but you don't need to pay again to keep the version you bought working (as I understand it).

oblivion

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2016, 12:57:20 PM »
finding out that this is basically a subscription by another name

Can you clarify that? The purchase page says that the version you buy is good forever.  You don't get free updates after a year, but you don't need to pay again to keep the version you bought working (as I understand it).
Pretty sure your understanding is correct.
-- bests, Tim

...this space unintentionally left blank.

wraith808

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2016, 12:58:37 PM »
finding out that this is basically a subscription by another name

Can you clarify that? The purchase page says that the version you buy is good forever.  You don't get free updates after a year, but you don't need to pay again to keep the version you bought working (as I understand it).

If you kept the downloaded version (which I did), then you can use it.  However, if you need to download it after your year is up, when you click the download, you get this message:



And you're not informed of that need before hand.  I didn't like that practice.

IainB

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2016, 02:33:22 PM »
finding out that this is basically a subscription by another name
Can you clarify that? The purchase page says that the version you buy is good forever.  You don't get free updates after a year, but you don't need to pay again to keep the version you bought working (as I understand it).
___________________________
This arguably has a lot to do with ethics in business.
I consider that @wraith808 has probably hit the nail pretty squarely on the head, and then later provides further substantiation of his comment.
It could arguably be called "a subscription by subterfuge" based on a position of pseudo-"lock-in". It's also a variation of a sort of bait-and-switch I suppose. Clever though, but then that don't impress me much. That sort of thing is known as "sharp practice" where I come from. In the long term, it could potentially and probably turn out to be  a self-destructive commercial/marketing tactic. Co-incidentally, I notice that Malwarebytes have been subtly shifting their licensing terms in what ominously looks like a turn in a similar direction.

Having studied and applied marketing and commercial/contract law in business, my understanding is that one shouldn't need to have to hunt around for the embedded hooks/gotchas, if one can reasonably trust the person one is dealing with to be dealing in a straight-up-and-down manner.
It always disappoints me when people let me (and themselves) down in that regard of trust.

In some of my job roles I've been responsible for the selection and financial sign-off of software licencing purchases for quite large farms of client-server and thin client systems. One of the primary risks in those cases is projected future cost, and if it turns out that a good product is available at what looks like a good price, but that in the longer-term it's pricing structure would force you down a potentially more expensive route, then you go for another product that doesn't stitch you up that way. I have to say that, in my experience, Microsoft has always been pretty straight-up-and-down and fair in its licencing schemes. Buyers of MS software can project future costs/budgets, and on functionality and price (risk) they would tend to usually win against their potential competitors.

So, sadlement, I'll not be buying an upgrade to GS-Base, and I'll not be committing myself to using GS-Base, even though I think it's quite a good product, and I'll certainly not be wanting to do repeat business with Citadel5 - or other people/organisations - if they demonstrate sharp practice. I risked very little, buying a licence for what, for me was a trial, at 50% off, but though the product was good, when I realised the subterfuge, I just uninstalled it and determined to continue to use the well-integrated MS Office 2016 product suite (Access, Excel, Word, OneNote, etc.), via the excellent $10 corporate home use licencing scheme, and it's a superb product set that is regularly updated, with only infrequent primary version number changes. Why would I use a single short-lived database product for the same cost, with a limited 1-year upgrade life? It wouldn't make commercial sense. So, regrettably, my trial of GS-Base is short-lived and it becomes one of my dusty "also-rans", with a note to self to not waste any more time on it in future.

We will nevertheless probably see GS-Base continue to come up under BitsDuJour and elsewhere at the artificial "50% off" (or whatever) price, appealing to uninformed and price-sensitive demand where, after 12 months, the suckers/buyers will find themselves caught up in an upgrade costing them - guess what? - an artificially-motivating "50% off" price again. Everything is 50% off all the time! Isn't that great? If the offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Economic and accounting theory would indicate that, under such a pricing scheme, the real price is always going to be 50% (or whatever) off whatever number happens to have been arbitrarily set as the supposedly undiscounted price.

This could even seem like a simple scam. Call a spade a "spade", as they say. @wraith808 would seem to be correct and it's arguably "Subscription" by another name.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2016, 03:26:13 PM by IainB, Reason: Corrections. »

Steven Avery

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2016, 06:43:25 AM »
Sometimes you can find the old version on FileHippo or OldVersions.  Apparently not with GS-Base.  So yes, trickery or subterfuge is involved.

And I keep all program install (.exe .msi style) downloads in a "Temp Download" folder, usually on a d: which is more subject to being saved.  Then occasionally that is backup up to the cloud, or it might be on the local backup thing.   This is small potatos in terms of size.

On GS-Base I have changed the folder name (every download is put in a descriptive folder name) to indicate that is a 12-month deal (indicating that even if I trim the files, this one is important.  And it acts as a quick reminder on a new install.)

Generally by saving the downloads you bypass this shark attack. My CAM Business Card program is an example, I have a valid license for Ver 9, they are up to 12, it is a good program, but not one I want to be forced to upgrade.  I went to the backup.  Maybe my old SiteSpinner.  Stuff like that.   When upgrades are based on new important features, normally you don't mind a modest upgrade if you get a lot of use from the program, but the programs vary wildly as to whether much is involved in an upgrade.  And you may be simply doing a retest. And some do "churning" of versions.

In semi-defense of the programmers, apparently it is hard to monetize this type of software after the first blasts of interest, ergo all the various advertising, install and pseudo-subscription tricks. Nonetheless, if you have a trick that you hide, that is not good.  I remember one program recently (maybe GS-Base) offered download protection for about $3. Meaning, we will save your version handy later.  Without saying that it would force an upgrade if you did not have the file.

Steven
« Last Edit: August 02, 2016, 07:29:16 AM by Steven Avery »

oblivion

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2016, 09:21:39 AM »
I have mixed feelings about all this. On the one hand, I agree that forcing paid upgrades by stealth is, on the face of it, a sharp practice. However, expecting the supplier to keep downloadable copies of your specific version of the installation media for free, indefinitely, just in case you might have the need to reinstall (and bear in mind that GS-Base can be installed portably and therefore reinstalled just by copying it on from your backup, what do you mean you don't have a backup?  ;)) seems a touch unreasonable too.

And while it's certainly the case that a $10 / year "subscription" isn't exactly free, even ignoring the fact that you only have to pay it if you want new functionality after the first year or you didn't keep backups, for a piece of software that can do what this does for the price remains pretty remarkable. The developer is responsive to requests for new features and bugfixes, to a greater extent than most commercial software I've ever encountered.

I grant you might not see the appeal over -- say -- various spreadsheet programs that pretend some database functionality but this is the only (reasonably) affordable and user-friendly "proper" database program I've seen in a very long time. (I've used Lotus Approach for a long, long time but I can't make it run on a 64-bit PC -- there are things I miss about Approach but GS-Base ticks more boxes than anything else I've tried.) So I'm consequently inclined to be a little more forgiving than I might if it were operating in a more crowded arena :)

-- bests, Tim

...this space unintentionally left blank.

wraith808

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2016, 11:14:01 AM »
If it were open knowledge, i.e. clearly stated that he doesn't keep backups at the time of purchase, and/or an advisement to keep the installer, I might agree with your point.  But there is neither of those, and the first time I encountered it, I wanted to install it and was not in a position to get to my backup of the software.  That left a bad taste.

On top of that, many, many companies do keep the older versions for just that reason.  Directory Opus.  Zeus. RegexBuddy.  TopStyle. And many more.

IMO, you either:

1) Notify the user.
2) Keep the downloads available (a very low maintenance cost, actually)
 
or

3) Don't engage in such practices.

It has little to nothing to do with the value, nor the quality of the program.  I agree with you on these points.  But neither excuse the practice.

Citadel5

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2016, 08:14:14 PM »
Hi,

For what it's worth, my two cents to this discussion:

1. The website and every other docs clearly state that you can log on to the download page to download the latest versions for 12 months for free. And it's clear that the page always displays the latest versions only.
(I do what I can to educate users that the license doesn't "expire".)

2. Almost all old versions are still on the website. For the full versions, it's sufficient to e-mail the support, which (un)surprisingly some users do.
Trial versions dating back I guess 10 years are free downloads all the time.

3. It's ca 2MB. Not 2TB...

4. Hope that the respective modifications to the download page will be implemented rather sooner than later. It was requested by other users and it's surely is going to be helpful.

5. IMHO captcha is easy(?). An easier registration method means verifying (addresses, IPs) 10-20 spambot submissions a day. (Unless this can be done automatically for the phpBB forum.)

Thanks,
Citadel5

wraith808

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2016, 09:37:18 AM »
Hi,

For what it's worth, my two cents to this discussion:

1. The website and every other docs clearly state that you can log on to the download page to download the latest versions for 12 months for free. And it's clear that the page always displays the latest versions only.
(I do what I can to educate users that the license doesn't "expire".)

2. Almost all old versions are still on the website. For the full versions, it's sufficient to e-mail the support, which (un)surprisingly some users do.
Trial versions dating back I guess 10 years are free downloads all the time.

3. It's ca 2MB. Not 2TB...

4. Hope that the respective modifications to the download page will be implemented rather sooner than later. It was requested by other users and it's surely is going to be helpful.

5. IMHO captcha is easy(?). An easier registration method means verifying (addresses, IPs) 10-20 spambot submissions a day. (Unless this can be done automatically for the phpBB forum.)

Thanks,
Citadel5



Thanks for the response.

1) Can you point me to that clear explanation that it will only be the latest?  If you have the others stored on your servers, it would seem that you could point the download link for those to the the registered version.  Perhaps that is your upgrade to your download screen you mention in point (4)?  I'm not sure, as what that includes isn't quite clear?  All others that I've seen that do that either (a) point to your last registered version or (b) point to a page with the older versions linked.  And that leads into...
2) Do you say anywhere that you can contact for the registered version?  I didn't see that.
5) Captcha is easy when the captcha used is readable.  As many have said, yours isn't, especially if you have any sort of color blindness.

To whit:
captcha.png

Looking back at your site, and your pages, you might want to make what you're saying a bit clearer.  It's not currently.  There's nothing wrong with your software- as you can see from my review, I think the upgrade policies are more than fair, and the software is very good for what you're getting and worth the money.

My problem is the fact that (a) what you're saying above isn't documented anywhere, and (b) that there would even be such an obscure method for receiving the version you paid for.  Many people (including myself) aren't going to try to find out how to get the version.  Especially if you, as I do, save your installer.  In my case, I did a clean install, and thought I could just download it.  I was able to get to my version as it's backed up.  But finding that out?  It left a bitter taste in my mouth- and one I didn't communicate before now.  Many people are going to do the same, so you might take this in the spirit it is intended- a place that you can make better changes so things are more clear to your customers.

Just food for thought.

IainB

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Re: GS-Base Mini-Review
« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2016, 09:22:30 PM »
@wraith808: I reckon you're flogging a dead horse.
I mean, for how long has Citadel5 been selling the GS-Base product? How dumb could they be?
What you are saying can't be news to them. If any salient information about pricing/licencing etc. of the sort you are suggesting has been omitted/obfuscated or whatever on the website or wherever in their documentation, then it would seem to be highly unlikely that, by this late stage, it will have been done or left there by accident. That probably goes double for the CAPTCHA.

It's too clever by half.
I usually find that the least frustrating thing to do when faced with such annoyances is simply to forget it, vote with one's feet/wallet, and focus on something more useful where one doesn't have to expend one's energies in trying to effect some change(s) to the immovable - which is kinda what I was suggesting above regarding the true price of such things.
As I said above: This arguably has a lot to do with ethics in business. (It's also about trust.)
« Last Edit: August 03, 2016, 09:27:35 PM by IainB »