Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

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

Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby dhaupert » Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:05 am

Hi Evan,

Thanks for the followup- I can't say for certain that the BlackBerry version will always be slower and behind in terms of features and development for the iPhone. I try to maintain all the products to the best of my ability, taking into account their popularity and user count as well as the sheer capabilities of the platform. The BlackBerry version is a real challenge as I can't share any code with the other platforms (because it's java and the others are C, and there is no native file system so we have to use the BlackBerry slow database format). Those things could change and my ability to do more with BlackBerry would open right up, but I'm not expecting this to happen any time soon.

So the short version is that as of now, I don't see the BlackBerry version advancing much in terms of feature set in the near future. But I do hope to spend some time in the near future working with the larger databases to see if I can't optimize this somehow, while staying in the confines of the BlackBerry database format.

Have a great week!
dhaupert
 
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Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby eheffa » Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:30 pm

dhaupert wrote:Hi Evan,

Thanks for the followup- I can't say for certain that the BlackBerry version will always be slower and behind in terms of features and development for the iPhone. I try to maintain all the products to the best of my ability, taking into account their popularity and user count as well as the sheer capabilities of the platform. The BlackBerry version is a real challenge as I can't share any code with the other platforms (because it's java and the others are C, and there is no native file system so we have to use the BlackBerry slow database format). Those things could change and my ability to do more with BlackBerry would open right up, but I'm not expecting this to happen any time soon.

So the short version is that as of now, I don't see the BlackBerry version advancing much in terms of feature set in the near future. But I do hope to spend some time in the near future working with the larger databases to see if I can't optimize this somehow, while staying in the confines of the BlackBerry database format.


Thanks for the reply.

My respect for the almost defunct Palm OS grows by the day as I see how difficult it is for developers to reproduce the features of the Palm version software on the latest & greatest BB's & iPhones. (I see that a command to navigate to the last record is not possible in the iPhone version; but, I digress.)

As crippled as the BB version of HanDBase is, if the app were to have a prompt to: "Save, Discard or Cance"l a record before accepting the escape key command and a "Copy to New" function, I would be content to keep using it. These two changes would significantly improve my ability to use the program. I've reconciled myself to the the lack of usable relational links between Dbases etc. but without the above changes, I find myself thinking I may need to switch devices just to get a useful means of tracking my billing activities. I am considering purchase of an iPhone, FIlemaker Pro and FM touch to see this happen, but this represents over $500 expenditure to solve a relatively simple problem.

You have suggested that these changes to the BB version would be possible after the iPhone version was out. Could you give me an idea of when these could be available?

Is there any possibility of implementing a filter command in the handheld app?

Thanks again.

-evan
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Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby dhaupert » Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:17 pm

Evan,

The main issues with the differences between versions are time and resources. When Palm was popular, they were basically the only player in the market. HanDBase progressed very rapidly on the Palm when 100% of our customers were using it, and we didn't even have a desktop or conduit to support. Still it was 10 years of development, and in those days multiple developers working on it, so to compare say the Blackberry of iPhone versions to it are a bit unfair. That said, in this day, the iPhone is the vast majority of our active customers and so it's a close second feature-wise. In fact, despite being in development for about 2 years compared to 10, the iPhone version lacks only two features the Palm version has that I can think of:
1. a menu option to scroll to the bottom of the list view (as you mentioned). This has nothing to do with the iPhone's capabilities, but the lack of my implementing it. In the day of the Palm it was an absolute necessity. The quick search feature back then worked like a word processor search where it just focuses on the next match and not showing all matches, so browsing the list of records was tedious and not smooth scrolling. On the iPhone the quick search quickly filters down your list view so the need to scroll is mitigated in most large databases. For those times it's not practical, we show a quick scrolling index along the side, which lets you get to any alphabetic entry as well as the last section quite easily. But there are customers who asked for it since it's something they are used to on Palm, and I'll probably add something to do this some day just to bring familiarity to those users.

2. Forms- this was something that took about 2 years before it ever appeared on Palm. We had a full time programmer working on it for over a year before it was even usable, and that was more the Palm platform's lack of ability to do dynamic controls (later fixed in higher OS versions). But on the iPhone I have only just started on development of Forms. No reason it can't be done, just a time/resources issue!

So that's basically all that is missing between the Palm and iPhone version and there are many features that are present in the iPhone version that are not in the Palm or other platforms (eg, taking pictures within the database, showing graphs/charts when running reports, etc).

So where does that leave BlackBerry- I have started on some BlackBerry updating now, I'm not sure when to expect that update as the main issue (large databases optimization) is a big issue with unforeseen variables involved. Your save prompt on cancel is honestly a low priority. I hope that doesn't offend you but you're one of only a few people who asked for that change, where as there are many other people clamoring for other changes in the program. So I can't provide a date at this point for that feature either.

Filters are not planned on the BlackBerry for the short term. If interest in BlackBerry HanDBase changes, I'm certainly open to reprioritizing this!
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Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby eheffa » Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:11 pm

Thank you Dave for your detailed reply.

I currently have ~ 650 records in my "Billings" Data base. It is now slowing down enough to warrant culling the handheld Dbase to a more workable number. I have tried to do this in the desktop app but it will not overwrite the handheld even when those options are selected in the Sync options. I cannot easily delete 450 records individually so without a filter function, I have to uninstall the Dbase and reinstall a truncated collection again. I'm not happy about that work around.

The lack of prompt to save may not seem that significant but I would bet that a lot of regular users of the software have found themselves having to re-enter data because of this ability to lose your data with the escape key. Entering the patient demographic data takes me about 1-2 minutes. A Start time is entered but I usually have to leave the record incomplete until the end of my time with the patient & then enter the Finsh time and the exact procedure type etc. I may also have to look up other active patients. Unless I remember EACH time I navigate away, to save with the "Done" command, I will be reentering data again. This happens several times a day to me in an operating room environment where I am multitasking and a lot of things may be happening all at once. Call me stupid but all other programs on the BB use the convention of enter or edit -> escape-> save-> Auto close. HanDBase is outside the normal convention in this respect and violates the almost second nature of key sequences that one uses to open & close various apps... How difficult would it be to add this cautionary step and bring it into compliance with normal BB conventions?

The inability to "copy to new" is a huge downside for me as well.

I can live with not really having a relational Database function like I did before, but these missing features above are a deal breaker for me.

I understand that you are busy, but the possibility that these issues may not be addressed for a long time to come is quite discouraging to me.

I understand from your comments that the iPhone is representing a more important user base for your business and so the BB version is lower on your priority list. It also looks like the iPhone is a better computer with a much more robust programming language, whereas the BB's strength is elsewhere (better phone, email communicator).

HanDBase has been one of my most-used and essential applications on my handheld devices. I have been using it daily at work for almost 10 years now. The limitations of the BB version of HanDBase are significant enough for me though, that I may have to switch platforms to gain the functionality I cannot get out of this device. A switch to the iPhone will open the door to a few other Dbase options as well I guess, but it's a shame that more could not be made of the otherwise promising, BlackBerry platform.

Thanks.

-evan
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Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby tbyrne » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:03 pm

I wish that I had seen this thread before changing from my Palm Treo to BB. The availability of Handbase on the BB was a major reason for choosing it over say an Android based phone. The loss of functionality from the Palm version may be enough to make me go back to my Palm though other programs that I use are dropping support fo the old Palm OS.

The BB version doesn't like playing with my MAC.

How do you build a database on the BB? I can finf a "new database" option.

My password database that was password protected is now open for anyone who finds my phone if I lose it.

I really expected that the Palm OS and BB versions would be roughly equivalent in function and they are not.
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Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby dhaupert » Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:07 pm

tbyrne wrote:I wish that I had seen this thread before changing from my Palm Treo to BB. The availability of Handbase on the BB was a major reason for choosing it over say an Android based phone. The loss of functionality from the Palm version may be enough to make me go back to my Palm though other programs that I use are dropping support fo the old Palm OS.


I'm sorry to read that you found this out too late. We do offer a 30 day return on our software- typically most carriers do the same if you would like to go back. I think you'll find the BlackBerry to be a huge disappointment based on what you're used to. It's a very different platform, and there are few applications designed to deliver the performance you can find on the Palm OS device.

The BB version doesn't like playing with my MAC.


Our version is not compatible with any Mac solution for several reasons:

1. They only just recently begun officially supporting macs. When hanDBase was designed they did not.
2. Our Mac version and our BlackBerry version do not have the features to design a database from scratch, so without either side having that, you'd be severely limited in what you could use HanDBase for! This will change as our Mac version grows in functionality this year, so we can revisit this then.

How do you build a database on the BB? I can finf a "new database" option.


See above- only certain versions of HanDBase offer this functionality- the Palm OS version being one of them and the BB version not being one of them, unfortunately.

My password database that was password protected is now open for anyone who finds my phone if I lose it.


There is a valid reason for this- the BlackBerry offers whole device password locking and encryption. You should consider using this to protect all of your data, not just your password database. Then if your device is lost or stolen, the whole thing is safe from prying eyes! We didn't feel a per database level password would be as needed on the BB as it is on other devices where these features are not available.


I really expected that the Palm OS and BB versions would be roughly equivalent in function and they are not.


I agree, if you would like to switch back, please contact me and I'll switch your registration back. Sorry for your disappointment!
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Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby tbyrne » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:32 am

Thanks for the feedback. For this and a host of other reason I will be sending the BB back. Great hardware, the software seems a bit anemic. I will probably be getting the Droid even though Handbase is not on that platform yet. Is the Android version going to be a reality? What do you anticipate its capabilities to be? Will it be more like the Palm OS version or the BB version?
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Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby eheffa » Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:08 am

I came to the same conclusion.

The Blackberry is a great phone and email device but it makes a lousy PDA. HanDBase for BB is not the same useful app that it is on the Palm.

I gave my BB 9700 to my wife & got the iPhone instead. HanDBase works much better on the iPhone. It's not perfect but much closer to the Palm standard. Faster than the Palm device too.
It is quite a surprise though to see how crippled the latest & greatest from RIM really is.

-evan
Last edited by eheffa on Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Missing features in BB HanDBase -User Report.

Postby dhaupert » Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:16 am

tbyrne wrote:Thanks for the feedback. For this and a host of other reason I will be sending the BB back. Great hardware, the software seems a bit anemic. I will probably be getting the Droid even though Handbase is not on that platform yet. Is the Android version going to be a reality? What do you anticipate its capabilities to be? Will it be more like the Palm OS version or the BB version?



Android version will be at about a half way point between the two, at least initially. It should be able to handle our PDB format without conversions. And you will be able to design databases on the device, so those are big enhancements over the BB version. That said, the Palm version had a 10 year+ head start in development time and having features like forms (which took 2+ man years to develop on the Palm) will not come out of the gates on Android. Instead those advanced features will be trickled out if there is a great demand for them from customers, and a sizable customer base to support that development cost.

Hope this helps, and sorry again!
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