Dabble DB, a Web-based database application from Smallthought Systems, gives enterprise IT administrators a structured database environment while enabling them to do the ad hoc data crunching they normally do in a spreadsheet. Dabble DB makes it easy for users to import data and create views of the tables holding that data, although it needs better health status update capabilities.
Dabble DB is a Web-based application from Smallthought Systems that can help
solve one of the modern knowledge worker's most enduring dilemmas by bridging
the gap between the spreadsheet and the database.
Spreadsheet applications are excellent tools for ad hoc data crunching. You
fire up a new spreadsheet, key or paste in your data and then sort, filter and
formulate your way to data analysis enlightenment. Things can turn ugly,
however, as those ad hoc spreadsheets put down roots and grow into de facto
applications that would be better implemented as databases.
Unfortunately, the structured nature of databases, which requires a lot of
planning ahead, tends to mesh poorly with the open-ended mindset of the typical
spreadsheet user, resulting in deepening roots for those overloaded
Enter the aptly named Dabble DB, which combines the structured data entry,
distribution and access benefits of databases
without surrendering the open-ended usage traits that spreadsheet dabblers
Dabble DB does a good job of importing data and makes it very easy for users
to create views of the tables (called "categories" in Dabble
parlance) in which their data resides. It's also easy to change the schema of
those categories-adding or removing fields and reconfiguring their data types.
Click here to see an eWEEK Labs walk-through of Dabble DB.
The Web-based service won't do everything that a spreadsheet will. For
instance, while it's easy to create views that include basic mathematical or
text operations, Dabble DB lacks most of the formulas that spreadsheets offer.
Given the product's excellent export and import functions, however, Dabble DB
can serve well as a complement to your local spreadsheet applications.
For my tests, I focused most directly on the product in its
spreadsheet-adjunct role. However, Dabble DB's easy form creation, multiple
user support and table relationship capabilities merit evaluation of the
product for light database duty, particularly for small organizations with
geographically dispersed users.
Dabble DB is priced at $8 per user per month, with a free 30-day trial.
There's also a free option for data that's made publicly available under a
Creative Commons license. For more pricing information, click here.
Holders of paid (or trial)
accounts can access their Dabble DB applications over an SSL
[Secure Sockets Layer]-encrypted connection.
Users of the service can download a copy of the categories stored on the
Dabble servers in the form of comma-separated value-formatted text files, and
Dabble takes periodic snapshots of the applications to which users can restore
through the service's admin console. It's also possible to trigger application
snapshots manually through the same console.
I was underwhelmed by Dabble DB's health status update facilities, which are
limited to blog, Twitter and user forum posts following service interruptions
or slowdowns. I would prefer to see a dedicated
for the service.