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Online databasing

The world turns online, whether one likes it or not. Many people tended to explain the phenomenon of Internet stressing its anonymous nature, as a place where anyone could be what he wants. People were hiding behind strange nicknames and imaginary personalities sometimes more weird, than an average sci-fi author would dream to imagine. Companies were guarding their data passionately and promoted themselves via press-releases, thoroughly weighing every word they were going to make public.

And then things changed. You may call it ‘Web 2.0′, ‘the second bubble’ or ‘rapid development of IT’ or anything else, but instead of thinking how to protect content, everyone started to think how to share it with others. Personal details are now propagated through social networks, bookmarks exchanged in a thousand different ways and even CRM data, the sacred cow of business, are put online.

And since data are being put online, there should be plenty of online database tools available. And they are. There are dozens of them among thousands of Stompr’s, Blewhoo’s and their brethren.

Online database apps could be roughly categorized as follows (or some other way, but I prefer this one):

1. Web-spreadsheets. These are just good old Excel turned online, so everyone can enjoy spreadsheets, cell dependencies, online calculations and diagrams they are accustomed to. This is a good choice to put many existing tables online and remain in your spreadsheet environment.

2. Specialized applications are designed for specific tasks. Some of them could be fairly simple like to-dos or contact-lists and some are highly sophisticated scalable solutions for CRM or asset management. Such apps are just the right thing to collaborate on data you have not been previously collaborating on. On the other hand, they are somewhat narrow in scope: you will have to set up separate applications for to-dos, calendars and everything else.

3. Generic solutions are the most flexible of all. You can configure them to have everything in one app: sales, meetings, diagrams, reports and almost anything else you need. Just keep in mind, that you will have to figure out how to organise your app making it do precisely what you want. Generic solutions always require some creative thinking to setup and have running, but the effort pays off double later. Possibly, that’s why there are not so many of generic applications - they are much harder to design and roll out.

Bitcut, certainly, belongs to group three. It is based on spreadsheet-like table that can be easily shaped in any simple database instance like contact or bookmark list. With reports, however, it is easily transformed to a CRM-system or analysis-tool, or even project management application. It just takes some time to find the best way for your data to be set up, but it is really worth trying.

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