SaaS DB Creator
November 10, 2010 6:17 PM   Subscribe

Are there any good SaaS-based webform/DB builders out there?

I've looked at Zoho Creator and Reports, but haven't found much else. I'm not really impressed with Zoho - a bit cludgy and slow.

I need an online solution for gathering data from a geographically-dispersed workforce. It needs to be web-based, and somewhat configurable. It doesn't need to support complex queries, because I plan to download the data and run reports off of it - we won't be using it for CRM or anything like that.

I will need to have multiple lookup tables, each with multiple fields, all of which feed into one big, flat table that I can run reports against.

I'm a software guy, so I'm comfortable with SQL and several programming languages, but I'd like to find something that lets me do the initial setup and allows less technical users to make minor changes like adding fields, etc.
posted by syzygy to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by Hazy Star at 10:12 PM on November 10, 2010

As a form builder, Wufoo is fantastic--cleaner and faster than Zoho. However, it's not really an app/db builder. You can do fairly interesting reporting off of the single flat table your forms feed into, and you can hit that table via an API. But that's about it.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:16 PM on November 10, 2010

BTW, that looks like a reply, but I simply failed to preview. :)
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:17 PM on November 10, 2010

Response by poster: I'm familiar with Wufoo and Formstack down to the API level - I actually prefer Formstack, but that's another story.

Unless I'm mistaken, there's not an easy way to create multiple lookup tables that reference each other in either of these apps. I've tried to figure out a way that I could corrupt Formstack to do what I want (I've corrupted Formstack for other purposes and customers in the past), but I'm not seeing a way to use either one of them to help me out here.

If they allowed form-creation or manipulation via API, I could even fake this, but unfortunately, forms are read-only - can't actually create or modify them via the API.

What I need:
Table Companies
Company ID
Company Name
Company Location
Company Size

Table Events (big flat table for reporting)
Company ID (or all company fields) - Must be based on a drop-down populated from data in Table Companies
Event Date
Event Location

Am looking at Caspio at the moment.
posted by syzygy at 3:10 AM on November 11, 2010

Best answer: I went through this recently, helping my wife, who needed to transition away from DabbleDB (which sadly seems to have been the cream of the crop). She looked at Caspio, wound up going with Zoho Creator. I know she got excellent support in the transition from the Zoho people, who managed to import her Dabble database and get all the relationships set up. It's a geekier system that permits and demands a certain amount of scripting to make it do what you want (One of DabbleDB's key features was "no programming ever"). And it's not as aesthetically pleasing, or as slick in terms of interface speed. But it does work.

I also ran across Infodome, which looks pretty slick, but have no experience. You might want to check out this blog.
posted by adamrice at 9:26 AM on November 11, 2010

Response by poster: adamrice: Hate to see that DabbleDB is gone. I never had a chance to use their service, but it does sound interesting, from what I've read.

Zoho just rubs me the wrong way, for some reason. The interface isn't at all pleasing to me, but I'll take second look at it.

Caspio looks quite OK, especially for a tool that could be used by less technical types who may already be familiar with MS Access. I wouldn't choose that UI for my own purposes, but it may be fine for office types. I'd also like to see a REST API there, instead of the SOAP-only setup they have now.

Thanks for the heads up on Infodome - I like their interface, so far. Will give it a spin and see how it stacks up.
posted by syzygy at 5:56 AM on November 12, 2010

You might also want to look at Intuit QuickBase (disclaimer - I work for them). We do have a pretty comprehensive API, and do support multiple table to table relationships.

I would also second the Web Apps at Work blog that adamrice linked to as a great resource comparing the usual suspects.
posted by Philbo at 2:45 PM on November 12, 2010

Response by poster: Philbo: Thanks for the QuickBase recommendation. We're already looking at doing some QuickBooks integrations, so this might be a reasonable solution.
posted by syzygy at 1:16 AM on November 17, 2010

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