Monday, November 19, 2007

Dear Mac Application Software Developers....

I know you are out there, and I know that on occasion you track blogs like this one - and I'm hoping you will happen by and read this post. I have a problem, and I'm sure one of you can solve it.

For a very long time (more years than I can recall), I've had a Palm Pilot. The exact model has changed over the years, and the current instance is a LifeDrive. This device serves several critical functions, and I do not leave the house without it. The function that I am interested in today is a set of three databases: DVDs, Fiction and NonFiction. Those databases hold what you might expect: the shelf lists of the thousands of books and hundreds of DVDs in my house. With publisher details. And ISBN numbers. Since bookshops hold a magnetic attraction for me, and I tend to buy faster than I read, I need to keep a list of what is already on my overloaded shelves.

I use a database called HanDBase3, from DDH Software. The integration between Mac OS X and the HanDBase desktop is pathetic, and to be frank, and the software is flaky. If you want to see a really ugly bit of software that claims to be for a Mac, go look at this. I have also started using the Delicious Library software, which is nice, but only exports to an iPod as Notes. Less than ideal if you are dealing with thousands of items.

What I really want is a database structure that I can define, and which I can access in some way either from my Palm Pilot, or from an iPhone or iPod Touch. I don't need to edit anything on the handheld, I just need to be able to search and view fairly simple records. I don't particularly want to use my Blackberry for this because it is not really mine - it is my employer's. I may not have it in my next job, and my current employer has security concerns about content on company owned devices (I don't blame them).

Recently, the FileMaker people released the beta of their Bento product. It looks OK, though it needs work, but you can't expect miracles from beta software. I could easily construct the sort of databases I need in Bento, but there is no way to export the data as anything but CSV. I'm guessing that the iPhone and iPod Touch will require XML.

So there's my challenge: a user defined database that can be searched on a Palm Pilot, an iPhone or an iPod Touch (just one will do, I don't need all three). Something stable, and with decent Mac integration.

Is that so hard? More detailed spec available on request.....


Alan Schmitt said...

I would also really like to have such an application. My Tungsten T3 is now 4 years old and I have to start planning for its replacement. I'm afraid I will leave the Palm world (none of their products appeal me at the time, and synchronization is too painful, even using Missing Sync), probably to get an iPhone.

Concerning future products, maybe Delicious Library 2 will have some form of iPhone integration. I think I have read it will have some form of html export. Would you require the database to be on the device, or would an online access work as well?

In any case, could you please post a follow-up if you receive any answer?

Thanks a lot,

Melodie Neal said...

Hi Alan

No responses yet (I'm hoping the quietness is just because of Thanksgiving, which we tend to forget about down here). I really would prefer the database to be on the device, not online. There are still places in Australia where mobile phone coverage is non-existent.




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