Uner the Radar: Make it Easy 2.0 Notes

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Hosted, web-based DB system. Designed for business users, not DBAs. Business users don’t use DB, they use spreadsheets. Databases are scary to them because they require upfront planning. Rigid, can’t change your mind

Dabble lets you enter data right away, change when you want. Add fields as you need, do huge data structure changes

Demo starts with a spreadsheet of conference sessions from a former OSCon. Import the data. Simply copied the data from Excel and pasted into a text field. Dabble created a DB. wow Sorting, grouping, searching, different views are created right away. See only Perl sessions in the Portland room. Give the view a name and it’s saved.

All fields start as text, just change to a pick list and the existing text data becomes a select list.

Set something to a date field, and NLP formats the date. Then created a calendar view that was automatically populated. Changed the search filter to Python, calendar updated, and view is saved.

Want to add a bio to the presenter, but want to store that seperately so they don’t need to retype each bio. So a couple of clicks converts the presenter data to it’s own table. Then added a Bio. Presenter and bio is linked to the old table. Now moves the company field from the sessions table to the presenter table. Associations are intact.

RSS views are there. Create PDFs, create ics (iCal), CSV, HTML, OPML, plain text

Rael: Lots of little databases Access, Filremaker, etc. Wants to push the

Arrington: Business model? Monthly subs, with recurring fee.

Krishna: Security and authentication? Not everyone should see all fields. Not everyone should be able to edit. The current model is to replace existing spreadsheets and Access DBs, and they don’t need authentication because they don’t have it now/

Audience: Unflattinging and normalizing a database is a difficult concept for the target audience. Are there any automated tools? Dabble: Not now, most people will evolve this over time

Arrington: This is awesome, will be popular in small businesses or groups in the enterprise. One thing I want on occaision is to have a web form that’s on a site for data to flow into Dabble. Dabble: That’s a feature that’s in testing, but some design is still needed.

Winer: This is what Office Live should have been. Dabble: Please go tell them that.

Rael: Played with Quickbase and quicken. This feels like what Quicken did for double-entry accounting. Don’t need to explain it, people can just use it. But would like to see a view that’s an application. Create a trouble ticket app.

Krishna: People that are using a spreadsheet already will probably continue to do so. Hard-core users will like this. Extensibility would be a big hit.

Rael: really liked the copy/paste data into.

Audience: General framework is open sourced. How is this a business benefit? Dabble: the company started as a consulting company doing OS development. This product evolved from that.


Team-based projects are difficult to pull off with collaboration.

People create a Word doc and email it around. Soon lose track of who has latest version. Email is hard to track conversations.

Some are turning to wikis, but wiki languages are arcane. Users don’t want to learn this. Wikis often run on a spare computer, with no attention paid to backup, availability etc.

Goal of rallypoint is to combine the UI of a word processor and the functions of a wiki. Allows people to create pages, categorize them, and share them with user and group security.

Hosted service. All you need is a browser and a connection.

Looks like a wiki with a WYSIWYG interface wrapped around it. Image editor, embedded flash, table creator. Documents have comments.

All documents created are by default visible to other users.

Can create categories, categorize the documents. Maybe they could use auto-categorization. :)

Easy user/group creation. Three levels of security: subscription, edit, view. Subscription notifies via email that the content has changed or comment added.

RallyPoint will show you similar pages to the one you’re looking at.

Arrington: What are the export options? Rally: in development, PDF, RTF, DOC

Krishna: how hard is it to install and go? Rally: it’s hosted, subscription model.

Rael: how do you differentiate from SocialText? Rally: similar pages, tagging, some of the features around the documents.

Audience: No questions

Krishna: Sees value add on top of a wiki, but what would make him use Rally instead of a wiki? Especuially free self-hosted wikis? Rally: no overhead of IT, breaks geographic barriers.

Arrington: Beautiful software. But this is a crowded space. How can you compete with Writely and 37signals? answers to Rael’s questions weren’t satisfactory.

Rael: There’s a market hurdle because people haven’t come to wikis. Need to develop the features further.

The Form Assembly

Allows anyone to easily create and manage web forms online. Most web sites need a web form of some sort, but there’s not an easy way to create them.

Free service. Collects, stores, and emails responses to you. RSS feed of responses. Stats for responses. Data can be exported.

For a demo, creating a feedback form for his demo. Creates a form container with a title, a button, and some help text. A preview is shown.

Can add a question, and the question can be any sort of field. For radios, can add options. Fields can be marked required. After each question is created, a preview appears. Conditional sections can be created that only appear depending on other answers. Interface for conditionals is slightly clunky.

Forms can be copied onto your site or The Form Assembly can host it.

Arrington: Business model? FA: Create a form is free, up to five responses are free. Beyond that options are pay as you go (starts at 12 cents per response). Subscription is $25/month for unlimited.

Arrington: What about editing, massaging, etc? FA: There’s a junk filter, Other than that, you can export.

Rael: Pay as you go might be a problem because the user doesn’t know how many responses to expect. FA: Most users select a limited subscription

Rael: can responses be shared with the world? FA: not now. But that’s a good idea.

Krishna: After the form is created do I need anything special to host it? FA: no, it’s just HTML

Audience: no questions

Rael: There’s a need for this, but the pricing model keeps people from doing this. Bloggers won’t use this, because they don’t know how much they’ll need to pay.

Arrington: First saw this in December, and it’s come a long way since then. Would really like this, but he can’t see the payment model. Perhaps an ad supported model? FA: people won’t want ads because they take people away from the form.

Rael: should really partner with a blogging company


Has several products, demoing Zoho Creator

Allows people to create their own application. Create from scratch, copy another app and extend it. 500 error when he tried to do it. I’ve certainly been there. Started over and it worked.

From creator, data gets stored and other views can be created.

Different skins

ZOHO Sheet: Web-based spreadsheet. Looks just like Excel, OO.o, whatever.

ZOHO writer: word processor.

ZOHO Office: everything integrated. Email, writer, spreadsheet, apps, whatever.

Krishna: You are going to be office online. Can you import office docs? ZOHO: uses openoffice engine to import other docs formats. Export too.

Audience: there’s a LOT there and it was tough for you to demo. Is it wise to have too many products? Will the audience be able to figure this out? Zoho: They’re self-funded, have paying customers, don’t need money. They’re not concerned

Arrington: You’re perceived as second on everything. Features seem to be copies of everyone else. And PR efforts are too aggressive. Zoho: Not really. Arrington: You’ve gotten in firghts on my blog comments with 37signals and Chillis. Zoho: they apologized. They’re copying us. (Arrington calls them for arguing and they argue about it. Sounds like my kids)

General thoughts

Rael: Web apps are finally starting to give things like database apps a run for their money. People need to do this stuff. And outside tools are the key

Moderator: The biggest challenge is to get people to start using this stuff.

Arrington: Excited about the space, but despairs for individual companies. Likes Rallypoint. Dave Winer told him that it’s easy to build tools, and the trick is to find something no one else is doing. Advises companies to get to know Dave Winer and get his advice. Become product expert before you start to build.

Krishna: Some companies are trying to take existing products and move them online. Others like Dabble DB are innovating. Concepts are all new, and if the users don’t jump in... Didn’t see much pizazz in the UI.

March 4, 2006 4:17 PM

Thanks for sharing your note. I was on stage and forgot just about everything soon after :-)

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