Ezenet – Instabase 4.0e review

easy web database publishing
Photo of Ezenet – Instabase 4.0e
£50

A company Web site is now technologically and financially within reach of all but the smallest organisation. Unfortunately, while it is quite easy to set up a simple HTML page listing information about your company, some photographs and a few contact phone numbers, that doesn’t really cut the mustard in the more competitive environment of the Web. Few, if any, large companies could do without a database of some sort on their site, whether it’s for maintaining an updated list of product stock or for serving the actual Web pages.

Here’s where the ‘Web for all’ idea falls flat on its face. If you’re not familiar with Oracle, SQL and so on, and can’t afford the minimum £500 per day development costs, then you’re in trouble. You could always muddle through using Access, but Ezenet has a more elegant solution. Instabase is a simple, powerful database engine, supported by a Web publishing tool that allows you to create and publish databases with little or no technical knowledge.

That’s the idea, anyway, and Instabase is certainly easy to use. Adding, deleting and renaming fields is straightforward and, aside from the limit of 100 fields per record, there’s theoretically no limit to the amount of data that can be stored. GIF, JPEG, BMP and PCX images can be imported and stored, as can any text documents, and it’s possible to include active e-mail and URL links that will launch the appropriate associated application when clicked. Searching and reporting tools are included, and there’s no programming required on the part of the user.

As a stand-alone database engine, then, Instabase has the right credentials. But the cleverest part of this package is the Web publishing tool. Using the built-in FTP client, it is possible to publish the database to the Web, with no requirement for HTML programming or CGI scripting knowledge. Once published, any user can access the database and perform searches, just as they would if the file was stored locally. This part of the package works using Java, so support for it is pretty widespread.

Company: Ezenet

Contact: 01752 895100


Verdict
Instabase is not intended as a replacement for powerful relational database engines. But as a simple e-commerce tool for small businesses it takes some beating. It can be used simply as a local database, but its Java conversion tool is so easy to use that you'll be looking for excuses to publish company information online. Instabase compares favourably with Multiactive's ecBuilder Pro; it lacks some of that product's functionality, but wins hands down on price.