Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Discuss HanDBase running on RIM BlackBerry devices and synchronization with a desktop.

Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby eheffa » Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:11 pm

I'm wondering if anyone else out there has done the transition from a Palm OS HanDBase to BB version?

I have switched to the Blackberry Bold 9700 & am running the latest development version of HanDBase Pro.

I use my HanDBase app every day on the job to keep track of my patients and to keep track of all my billable activities. (I am a self-employed Fee for service Anesthesiologist.)

I have switched to HanDBase for BB in the last month or so & have found certain features missing that I took for granted on the Palm version. These significantly affect the usability of the application (in a negative way). I have been in touch with customer support at DDH & they have reassured me that there will be fixes for these issues. I have not yet seen or tested these fixes yet.

I though it might be useful though for users to compile a list of bugs and features that would be useful to users & to allow others to know how the BB version differs from the Palm version.

*** In the BB version, if you navigate away from a record it will lose all data entered unless you remember to press the BB menu Button and choose "Done". If you press the "escape" key, you instantly lose all data entered for that record. It does not prompt you to save or discard changes. This needs fixing.

*** BB version: There is no "Save record to New" (equivalent to duplicate record in Filemaker). This was a very useful feature in the Palm Version as it would allow a full transfer of all patient data on that record to be applied to a new encounter. This would be a very welcome addition to the BB version of the Program. Not having this results in a lot of extra work.

*** BB version: All relational popup databases are not operational. Accessing another related Dbase will open (slowly) the related dbase but one is unable to actually click on any item in the dabse to allow it be appended to the primary record.

*** Search functions are essentially inoperative on the Device.

*** BB Version: VERY slow compared with the Palm version. I had previously been able to have several years worth of data in use on my Palm Treo 680 (3000+ records). The palm version was quick and pretty reliable. All linked dbases were instantly accessible & worked as they should. Opening, creating new records etc. was essentially instant. The BB version on the other hand had to be culled down to a few months worth of records or else it would slow to a crawl taking over 30 seconds to save a new record. It is still slow, taking about 8 - 15 seconds to save a new record after I click on "Done" . I only have about 4 months of records saved at present but fear that as I continue to add records it will again slow to a crawl.

I am quite disappointed in HanDBase so far. Tech support has been responsive in fielding my concerns and quite polite & sympathetic, but real fixes have not been forthcoming yet. The major reason I went with the BB over the iPhone was the understanding that HanDBase would port over to the BB and allow accurate entry on a tactile keyboard. I have so far not been able to port over anything useful and have essentially started from scratch. I now have a dumbed down version of HanDBase on my new device.

I have been exploring other options such as FMTouch's BB version of Filemaker, but it is not really out of the beta stage yet.


It's hard to believe that a much more modern platform running BB OS 5 can be so much less functional than the ancient Palm OS. I would recommend that if you can continue to use you Palm, stick with it until some of these bugs and features are remedied. I do hope for a fix soon but am quite disappointed with the performance so far.

Have other users out there experienced the same issues? Any fixes?

-evan :roll:
eheffa
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby dhaupert » Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:12 pm

Hi evan,

I just responded to your personal email directly but will cut and paste and respond to some of these questions and thoughts here as well for the benefit of other readers:

*** In the BB version, if you navigate away from a record it will lose all data entered unless you remember to press the BB menu Button and choose "Done". If you press the "escape" key, you instantly lose all data entered for that record. It does not prompt you to save or discard changes. This needs fixing.


I'm frankly not sure about that one- the Palm version had a cancel button and it never prompted nor caused any issues when it didn't prompt. Even the Windows Desktop version has the escape key mapped to cancel and has had that for about 5 years now without a complaint. I am not stubborn or lazy about making changes or the type to debate whether something is truly a bug or a suggestion, but in this case, I'm not sure most users would agree with you on this change. I've had a few cases where I made a change based on a few customer's suggestions and then heard from the people who were not happy with the change. So I'd worry about that! And I hate to add options unless absolutely necessary as it adds to the program's complexity and is not recommended by mobile device (or OS) manufacturers either.
*** BB version: There is no "Save record to New" (equivalent to duplicate record in Filemaker). This was a very useful feature in the Palm Version as it would allow a full transfer of all patient data on that record to be applied to a new encounter. This would be a very welcome addition to the BB version of the Program. Not having this results in a lot of extra work.


The Copy Record to New is a feature I just recently added to the iPhone version as we had quite a few suggestions for it. No reason it can't be done on the BlackBerry, but is dependent on the user demand for the feature. I'm not aware of more than 1 other person who has asked for it.

*** BB version: All relational popup databases are not operational. Accessing another related Dbase will open (slowly) the related dbase but one is unable to actually click on any item in the dabse to allow it be appended to the primary record.


I am not aware of any issue with this, and use this with several databases on my Bold. If you could send me a set of databases that give this problem I can check and see if this happens on my end.

*** Search functions are essentially inoperative on the Device.


Can you please expand on this? Not aware of any issues (other than the quick search being slow if there are too many records).

*** BB Version: VERY slow compared with the Palm version. I had previously been able to have several years worth of data in use on my Palm Treo 680 (3000+ records). The palm version was quick and pretty reliable. All linked dbases were instantly accessible & worked as they should. Opening, creating new records etc. was essentially instant. The BB version on the other hand had to be culled down to a few months worth of records or else it would slow to a crawl taking over 30 seconds to save a new record. It is still slow, taking about 8 - 15 seconds to save a new record after I click on "Done" . I only have about 4 months of records saved at present but fear that as I continue to add records it will again slow to a crawl.


I fully agree with you on this. I know this is of no consolation, but the version you are using is probably 10-20x faster than the original release on the BlackBerry. We'd optimized and optimized
over the first year of release and it made it much more usable. But the sad truth is that it's still far slower than even a 1997 made Palm OS device. That's not the processor, that's the OS and particulary the language- you see, on Palm, the code was compiled into machine language which runs extremely fast. On the BlackBerry, it runs interpreted Java which is several orders of magnitude slower. Much of that is made up for with a faster processor, but in particular, loading the database records and saving them are very slow comparitively to the Palm OS which was very efficient at this. I won't see we have no more optimization to do- quite the opposite, I'm sure we can squeak more performance out of the program, but there are unfortunately some sad limitations for this.


It's hard to believe that a much more modern platform running BB OS 5 can be so much less functional than the ancient Palm OS. I would recommend that if you can continue to use you Palm, stick with it until some of these bugs and features are remedied. I do hope for a fix soon but am quite disappointed with the performance so far.


This may or may not be a surprise to you, but it's just me programming all of these versions! And so while trying to juggle so many platforms, I find I have to balance out new development and bug fixing as best I can. I also rotate through the platforms and work on just one at a time. The iPhone version is the one I'm working on now and hopefully will be done with the update I'm doing there this week. But prior to that, the last update I did was for BlackBerry in late September and October. So to be honest, I do not have plans to work on that until the new year as there are others in front of it in line (such as finishing the mac desktop update). I hope this makes sense to you, I just can't switch gears back and forth between too many versions at the same time or I become extremely inefficient!

I mentioned also in my email that I plan on making a features list for those of you considering switching from any one platform to another, that would show you which features and bells and whistles are in each program. When that's done, I'll post something about it- there are differences between every version and there is no one version that has every feature, so it should be interesting and useful to people. If you are thinking of switching from one platform to another, I would always recommend trying your databases with the trial version for that platform before switching so you're sure you're happy with the result and functionality! The only sad exception to that is the iPhone version where we don't have a demo version due to the way the store is structured and the rules they have there.

Hope that this info is helpful to others.
dhaupert
 
Posts: 4111
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 11:51 am

Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby eheffa » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:01 pm

I'm frankly not sure about that one- the Palm version had a cancel button and it never prompted nor caused any issues when it didn't prompt. Even the Windows Desktop version has the escape key mapped to cancel and has had that for about 5 years now without a complaint. I am not stubborn or lazy about making changes or the type to debate whether something is truly a bug or a suggestion, but in this case, I'm not sure most users would agree with you on this change. I've had a few cases where I made a change based on a few customer's suggestions and then heard from the people who were not happy with the change. So I'd worry about that! And I hate to add options unless absolutely necessary as it adds to the program's complexity and is not recommended by mobile device (or OS) manufacturers either.


Thank you Dave.

On the Palm, one could add some data (e.g. Patient name and a new start time) and discontinue this process at any point and come back to it to find the entered data still there. Using the escape key instantly removes any edits without a prompt to save etc. This is quite different and a lot less functional than the other databases built into the Blackberry. e.g. if you add a new contact to your Contacts and start entering data or edit the contact and press the escape key, it will prompt with a dialogue box: "Changes Made" with the three options "Save, Discard or Cancel" listed. IMHO, the HanDBase should do the same when leaving in the middle or at the end of entering or editing a record. I can't tell you how many times I have lost my data when multi-tasking & needing to answer a call or whatnot. If other users were to object to this, perhaps it could be an option to turn this off or on. Other third party apps like Pocket Informant have adopted this default sequence of prompts as well so it appears that his convention can be emulated in other app's.

The Copy Record to New is a feature I just recently added to the iPhone version as we had quite a few suggestions for it. No reason it can't be done on the BlackBerry, but is dependent on the user demand for the feature. I'm not aware of more than 1 other person who has asked for it.


Well. I may be in the minority here, but as a a daily user of this app I can say from personal experience that when following multiple repeat contacts on the ward etc.., this small feature from the Palm version is extremely useful & time-saving. If you could find the time to add it to the BB version I, for one, would be most grateful. Surely it's not just me that finds this a useful function?

I am not aware of any issue with this, and use this with several databases on my Bold. If you could send me a set of databases that give this problem I can check and see if this happens on my end.


This is regarding linking the databases as popup fields. I did send my databases into Brian through tech support and he tells me that there do not appear to be any bugs in them. I had suggested that I re-write all my dbase links and he responded that this was unlikely to remedy the situation. The inability to link my dbase data is a setback, but does not impact my daily usage nearly as much as the above issues.

Can you please expand on this? Not aware of any issues (other than the quick search being slow if there are too many records).


I stand corrected here as I should have been more specific. The Quick search function is what I was referring to... if I inadvertently hit a key or two at the wrong time starting the "quick Search function" it may take several minutes to backspace out of that field. It is an inoperative function sitting there on the main screen.

I do see now that that the proper "Find" function works reasonably well if only to find one record: The "Find Again" function of the Palm version is not there. e.g. searching for all the "Smith" entries or all the Celiac Plexus Block patients is not possible. This is not a deal killer but it is again a deficiency compared to the more mature Palm version.


This may or may not be a surprise to you, but it's just me programming all of these versions! And so while trying to juggle so many platforms, I find I have to balance out new development and bug fixing as best I can. I also rotate through the platforms and work on just one at a time. The iPhone version is the one I'm working on now and hopefully will be done with the update I'm doing there this week. But prior to that, the last update I did was for BlackBerry in late September and October. So to be honest, I do not have plans to work on that until the new year as there are others in front of it in line (such as finishing the mac desktop update). I hope this makes sense to you, I just can't switch gears back and forth between too many versions at the same time or I become extremely inefficient!

I mentioned also in my email that I plan on making a features list for those of you considering switching from any one platform to another, that would show you which features and bells and whistles are in each program. When that's done, I'll post something about it- there are differences between every version and there is no one version that has every feature, so it should be interesting and useful to people. If you are thinking of switching from one platform to another, I would always recommend trying your databases with the trial version for that platform before switching so you're sure you're happy with the result and functionality! The only sad exception to that is the iPhone version where we don't have a demo version due to the way the store is structured and the rules they have there.

Hope that this info is helpful to others.


Yes. I guess I am surprised that you are juggling all this on your own. At present, HanDBase for the BB is really the only game in town so there are no real competitors for this vital function. I would be prepared to buy FM Pro and FMtouch for an outlay of ~$400 CAD to make this work; but, from what I can tell, FM Pro would do the job on the PC /Mac side but the BB version by FMTouch is not yet ready for Primetime.

So I appreciate having something that can approximate the functionality of my old worn out Palm device. I am using HanDBase on the BB but it is seriously crippled yet. If there is any chance you could change the interface to comply with the BB conventions of a prompt to "save" prior to navigating away from a record with the escape key and allowing for a "Save to New" option, I would be able to be a lot more efficient and most appreciative for it.


Thank you for your quick feedback.

-evan
eheffa
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby dhaupert » Tue Dec 15, 2009 2:17 pm

Hi again Evan,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree with your assessment of the first issue- while on the Palm, pressing cancel did immediately cancel, this was the accepted convention of the device, and we should do the same on the BlackBerry- that is, use the accepted convention in this case. I will add this to the todo list!

In regards to the second item, I'm sure there are others who would find this feature useful. As you can imagine, my time is stretched quite thin, and is an unfortunately consequence of a market that also has spread itself out so thin. Because of that, I have to prioritize and work on the things that would help the largest amount of customers and wait on those that help a few or less. I hope you'll understand that reasoning, even though I understand it's of no consolation to you as it's something you really make use of. On a related note, I wonder why you are copying records to new instead of using a link/linked related table. It sounds like much of the information stays the same because you are storing redundant information. If instead of a single table, you had a master table with the info that stays the same, and then a related child table with only the info that changes (ie, date, billing codes, ICD9s, etc) then you could really save a lot of space.

The quick search feature does get slow when the database size gets too large. In that event, I'd recommend setting the quick search field of your database to 'no field' and you won't have to worry about inadvertently hitting something in there. You mentioned that there was no repeat find- there is actually, it's called 'Again' and listed right below the Find All function you selected. Hopefully that will do the trick for you!

In regard to the DB Popup issue you described, I am hoping you can email me the databases directly and I'll try and see if I can duplicate the issue you described. Thanks in advance!
dhaupert
 
Posts: 4111
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 11:51 am

Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby eheffa » Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:02 pm

Hi again Dave,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree with your assessment of the first issue- while on the Palm, pressing cancel did immediately cancel, this was the accepted convention of the device, and we should do the same on the BlackBerry- that is, use the accepted convention in this case. I will add this to the todo list!


Thank you. This would eliminate a real hassle in using this app. I look forward to using it with this changed.

In regards to the second item, I'm sure there are others who would find this feature useful. As you can imagine, my time is stretched quite thin, and is an unfortunately consequence of a market that also has spread itself out so thin. Because of that, I have to prioritize and work on the things that would help the largest amount of customers and wait on those that help a few or less. I hope you'll understand that reasoning, even though I understand it's of no consolation to you as it's something you really make use of.


I understand that you are pressed & pulled in multiple directions. When you get a chance to add this functionality to the BB version of the program, I will be most grateful as it does save me a lot of time & helps prevent errors.

On a related note, I wonder why you are copying records to new instead of using a link/linked related table. It sounds like much of the information stays the same because you are storing redundant information. If instead of a single table, you had a master table with the info that stays the same, and then a related child table with only the info that changes (ie, date, billing codes, ICD9s, etc) then you could really save a lot of space.


Maybe this will be too much information but here goes anyways, as it sometimes helps to hear how people use applications in their daily life.

I work as an Anesthesiologist. Most of my work is in the Operating room providing anesthesia care for patients while they have their surgery. Most of these are one off encounters where it is unlikely that I will see that person again for some time. Each new patient gets entered into my HanDBase Billings database. I record the date of encounter (Automatically set to the day of entry with override enabled). I also record their Lastname, First Names, DOB, Health insurance number, Time-Start at which my billing starts and Time-Finish when my billing ends. I also record the Surgeon or Referring Physician and the Procedure or billing item type in separate fields (These are referenced to separate popup dbases - which BTW are no longer functional on the BB. Previously, on the PAlm I could enter the first 4 or 5 letters of the field entry touch the Field name & the linked DB would open up to any field values matching that entry. e.g. enter 'chole' and I would have a dbase open up with the options: Cholecystectomy - Lap'c, Cholecystectomy - open, Cholecystectomy - open p failed Lap'c etc.) I also have extra fields (Notes) with popup modifiers like Prone Position, Epidurals, & other procedural add-ons.

My use of the Save to New or Duplicate record function applies more to my on the ward work. After surgery, or in my Palliative care practice, I will follow patients on the ward for days to months. In those patients, I normally open the last record of my contact with them and then "Save to New" generating a new record or encounter with all the relevant details of Name, DOB, Referring Doc etc. as well as the type of visit (epidural supervision, Hosp Visit etc) already filled in for this new encounter. All I need to do is add the Start and Finish times of service & I'm done. Without this Save to New function, I am having to enter a lot more data that is repetitive but necessarily part of that encounter. If I have more than one Smith on the ward at any one time or I need to fill in more info. I do not see how one could turn these patient lists into a secondary dbase...I currently have a secondary Dbase of "Pain Patients" that was linked to the main Dbase, but this link is no longer useful as it doesn't auto-enter the relevant field values.

The quick search feature does get slow when the database size gets too large. In that event, I'd recommend setting the quick search field of your database to 'no field' and you won't have to worry about inadvertently hitting something in there. You mentioned that there was no repeat find- there is actually, it's called 'Again' and listed right below the Find All function you selected. Hopefully that will do the trick for you!


Thanks. I've turned off the Sluggish Quick Search Feature. I see now where the search again field is...OK not intuitive but it works. Thank you.

I had emailed Brian my Databases with the links. If you wish, I could do it again.

Thanks for your help & again, I look forward to those first two fixes above with anticipation.

Cheers.

-evan
eheffa
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby eheffa » Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:34 pm

Update>

I have been attempting to use my linked Databases (accessed as Popup Dbases). They are linked properly and are working after all...well sort of. Unlike the Palm version where tapping on the Field name instantly brings up the linked Dbase (any entered values will take the cursor to the matched values). Another tap will then take you back to the original field with the value selected in the accessory Dbase entered. All pretty quick & effective.

The B version requires opening the menu via the trackpad. Click on "DB popup" wait 15 seconds or so. Hit BB menu Key. click on Find All. Enter desired values to find. Tap track pad key enter "Go" wait for a bit. When value found scroll up & down to final choice. Click on select and return to original field. What took perhaps 5 seconds on the Palm takes 30 -60 seconds on my BB. So, it does work? Yes but in such a way that it is just a lot simpler and faster to enter the values manually each time. Too bad. I guess this is just the BB operating system interfering with the intuitive way of doing things & perhaps there is no fix for this.



It works but poorly. I guess I can live with out this linking function but it's too bad.

-evan
eheffa
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby palomartian » Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:53 am

Thanks for the thread. I am considering the 9700 as a move up from my 9000. I was going to ask if HDB worked with the new OS/hardware. I guess I got my answer.
palomartian
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed May 20, 2009 10:16 am

Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby dhaupert » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:01 am

eheffa wrote:Update>

I have been attempting to use my linked Databases (accessed as Popup Dbases). They are linked properly and are working after all...well sort of. Unlike the Palm version where tapping on the Field name instantly brings up the linked Dbase (any entered values will take the cursor to the matched values). Another tap will then take you back to the original field with the value selected in the accessory Dbase entered. All pretty quick & effective.

The B version requires opening the menu via the trackpad. Click on "DB popup" wait 15 seconds or so. Hit BB menu Key. click on Find All. Enter desired values to find. Tap track pad key enter "Go" wait for a bit. When value found scroll up & down to final choice. Click on select and return to original field. What took perhaps 5 seconds on the Palm takes 30 -60 seconds on my BB. So, it does work? Yes but in such a way that it is just a lot simpler and faster to enter the values manually each time. Too bad. I guess this is just the BB operating system interfering with the intuitive way of doing things & perhaps there is no fix for this.

It works but poorly. I guess I can live with out this linking function but it's too bad.

-evan


Thanks for trying it again and reporting back. The concept of selecting via the menu is unfortunately the only option when there is no touch screen. For Storm users, we could definitely come up with something better, though I believe the popup indicator there already does what you'd like (have to check to remind myself).

In terms of speed, there is not too much we can do- the built in database engine that the BlackBerry uses is extremely slow as you can see. They don't allow random file access for writing arbitrary formats to files in internal memory, but do to the memory card. So if we wanted to support our own optimized format, we would have to require this on the memory card and it would require a rewrite of much of our program. But it's something we may have to do.
dhaupert
 
Posts: 4111
Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 11:51 am

Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby eheffa » Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:34 pm

Thanks Dave,

I understand that the Java based BB platform takes some serious tolls on the performance.

I took a chance and bought the $5.00 Memory Booster app & it has sped up the HandBase performance noticeably. It's not as snappy as my old Palm, but noticeably better.

If the "Escape key: Prompt to save" issue and the "Save as new" Function could be rectified, then I would be reasonably content with the utility of HAnDBase. I am still finding occasions when I thought I have recorded a visit and discover that the record entry was lost due to forgetting to enter menu item Done. That save prompt would be very welcome. Is there anyway I can bribe you to make it a higher item on your to-do list? ;-)

Thanks & have a Merry Christmas.

-evan
eheffa
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby eheffa » Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:28 pm

Congratulations on the successful launch of the iPhone version of HandDBase.

But , back to the world of Blackberries.

I'm jealously reviewing the feature set for the iPhone version & see that you can't migrate away from a record without it prompting you to save & it allows "Save to New" or Duplicate record function. It also allows a filter function & on device Dbase creation. I use my HanDBase every day on my BB 9700 & am frequently frustrated with the significant slowness and lack of the above features that I took for granted on my ancient Palm Device.

The BB version is SLOW, crippled and won't tolerate larger collections of records without slowing to a crawl. Despite my aversion to the virtual keyboard, I'm thinking of bailing on the BB & switching to iPhone so that I can trim some time out of my day waiting for the BB screen to refresh.

What sort of timeline can we expect for the BB features to catch up? Will the BB version always be so slow compared to the iPhone & the ancient Palm OS?

-evan
eheffa
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:39 pm

Next

Return to HanDBase for BlackBerry

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron