iData Pro 1.0.5
Friday 14th March, 2003
QuarkXPress may be one reason for sticking with Mac OS 9, but for certain Mac users - admittedly, the same ones who, for good reason, have stuck with Word 5.1a - their reluctance to leave QuickDex behind has been the motivation. People who use QuickDex (and InfoGenie) tend to put their whole lives into them. Phone numbers, contact notes, you name it, they’ve stuck it into a freeform record somewhere in QuickDex. It’s blindingly quick, and it doesn’t get in the way. Now Casady & Greene has come up with an OS X version of QuickDex, fashionably renamed iData Pro.
In use, iData Pro is, at least initially, the same as QuickDex. You create data files, which look like a 5in x 8in card. A large freeform text area at the bottom contains your record data, and the controls sit along the top. Type some details into the text area, then use the plus icon in the toolbar at the top to add a new card. There are CD-player-like forward and back controls to step through your cards, or you can type into a search box and press enter or return to search for a card. iData jumps to the first record containing the search text. Pressing return or enter again takes you to the next matching card, and so on, until you loop back to the first card. If you want, you can use an AND function to look for non-contiguous data. And that’s it. It’s extremely simple, and extremely fast.
Have a field day
iData Pro isn’t just a straight port of QuickDex, though. You can also create traditional field-based databases. Choosing New Field-based data file from the File menu brings up a fairly standard field-creation dialog. You can add, modify, re-order and delete text fields, and you can come back (via the Modify Fields command) and fiddle with their set-up after you’ve started using the file. Once defined, you can enter your data as you’d expect: field names are listed down the left, and you enter freeform text on the right. To complement the data-entry view, you can also view field-based files in a spreadsheet-like list view with field names across the top. You can resize the columns manually, or toggle them to fit by option-clicking on them. Clicking on the titles sorts your records alphabetically or numerically.
One thing you can’t do is change the order of the columns. iData Pro field-based files are actually freeform files that use carriage return characters to delimit the fields. So to re-order the fields in the list view, you need to use the Modify Field dialog. A minor irritation, but there are other consequences. Only the last field of a field-based data file can contain carriage returns - so no freeform style address field in the middle of your fields - addresses have to be on one line or split into Street, Town, County, and so on, if you want a comments field at the end. And while you can move fields around, you can’t move the last field around if it contains returns. The upside to this is that the searching works in exactly the same way, which means you don’t have to stick values into different fields in a find mode, so it’s still as blisteringly fast.
As well as fields, iData Pro has a number of other features that put the icing on the cake. Suppose you have a Web page open with some info you want to save. Select the info, copy it, and switch to iData. The toolbar has a Grab Web Address button that gets the page name and address and sticks it, along with the contents of the clipboard, into a new card. You can also now print Envelopes or labels using a set of user-definable templates.
Import and input
iData has a number of improved import features. You can now import single text files as a single record or a group of records, folders of text files, browser favourite files from Netscape and Explorer, contact data from Entourage, and email from Outlook, Entourage, Netscape, MailSmith, and Apple’s Mail. Files can be imported into either freeform or field-based data files.
For most office users, iData Pro is an ideal solution to all their personal database needs. It’s easier to set up than FileMaker, very fast, and is easier to use than Stickies for jotting down and finding bits of info. For most office users, iData Pro is an ideal solution to all their personal database needs
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|Pros||Easy to use + Fast + Imports email|
|Cons||Field-based files limited by carriage returns|
|Originally Published||MacUser Voluumn 19, Issue 6|