Students of film history will quickly recall that Bio-Dome was a 1996 film, starring Pauly Shore and Steve Baldwin, as two stoners who inadvertently stumble into a closed ecological sphere. It’s right up there with “Citizen Kane” and it’s evident to all that Pauly went to a dark place in that one. Now don’t get me wrong, I feel like this was some of Pauly’s most challenging work, but it’s a good thing no one will be confusing this film with InfoDome anytime soon. That is because unlike the flick – which, some argued had no redeeming social value – InfoDome addresses a very real problem: the boundless proliferation of data, and businesses’ inability to adequately handle and make sense of that data.
InfoDome is a simple and powerful online database that makes it easy to collect, manage, analyze and share your data. Spreadsheet users and database authors can import their data, visually design forms and relational reports with drag-and-drop ease, share these selectively or embed them in a website with a few clicks, and drill into data for business intelligence. Developers can automate importing and reporting. InfoDome runs in a browser, but feels like a software application.
So I logged in as a guest to give it a whirl. And when it comes to starting from scratch, InfoDome was with me every step of the way. It was, dare I say, idiot-proof. I had two choices: Create Your Database, or Open a Pre-Built Application, each with corresponding tutorials. I chose the former (below), and was taken to a simple screen that gave me three options: Create from Scratch, Create by Importing, Create from Pre-built Application. Yet again, I chose the former.
On the left, my choice of objects to insert – Tables, Relations, Forms, Reports, and People – and to my right, the data fields for said tables. Bear in mind, at this point I was getting a bit woozy – this is deep stuff – but I was hanging in there due to the simplicity of the layout. So I added a few fields. I could leave the design field and click on the “data” field to see the fields in the table.
I won’t walk through the entire process; rather, I’d like to accentuate the point that it was pretty intuitive. The “drag n’ drop” functionality was especially helpful, and my ability to pretty-up the records with color palates, different fonts, and all that stuff we’re familiar with from Microsoft Word was a happy surprise. In fact, InfoDome spells out eight unique areas that really make the tool sing; here are four that I feel are particularly nice:
- Visual Form Design – I alluded to this earlier; forms need not be dry and impersonal, but rather, visually compelling.
- Visual What You See Is What You Get (the acronym, WYSIWYG, ironically enough, is my life coach’s vanity plate on his Saab.) This is where the drag n’ drop functionality comes into play; what is there on the design page manifests itself in reality.
- Dynamic Summary Reports – Reports and data are updated as-it-happens.
- Easy Selective Sharing – Infodome makes it easy to administer user rights and control who can do what.
Ultimately, InfoDome – which has a free trial – can prove very useful for small businesses, who can manage leads, customer status, and product inventory – pretty much any kind of information can be segmented, grouped, and tracked. So, anyway you look at it, InfoDome is an overwhelming improvement over Mr. Shore’s aforementioned farce. Then again, the bar couldn’t be lower: Bio-Dome has the distinction of the lowest aggregate score for a movie currently included in the database of Metacritic!
InfoDome turned into InfoNotHome. They gave up the good fight. No doubt resigning themselves to a life of hoeing fields and chasing cats.