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DabbleDB - a collaborative tool to manage your non-profit's database online

Lori Halley 07 August 2007 2 comments

Recently, I wrote about Google Spreadsheets for online collaboration and recently I stumbled upon DabbleDB and after looking at it, I'm impressed! And what's not to like! It's an online tool for creating collaborative database applications in seconds, quickly and easily. I also highly recommend you check out their 7 minute demo video.

When it comes to managing data, Google Spreadsheet solves the collaboration problem for any kind of data which can be managed in a spreadsheet. DabbleDB is more rigorous: it is an actual database which can be tailored to your needs -- a donor database, a schedule, or whatever.

For years, many non-profit and member-based organizations used Microsoft Access to maintain their lists, but with DabbleDB, this is a better way to do this stuff.

So let's say you work at a small non-profit, and want to build a member database. Here are the seven steps you'll need to do get your database up and running:

Step 1: Signing Up

The first step is to sign up for an account. Signing up to DabbleDB will give you a web address (http://username.dabbledb.com/) and your email will be your login name. Once signed up, you need to create a new application.

Step 2: Create New Application

Creating an application is a very simple and easy process. To create a new application, you need to pick a name for your application and choose a first category. You can name your application whatever you want. A category (table) is used to group similar entries in your database and give them all the same fields. once you finished creating the application, you can add fields to your database.

Step 3: Adding/Changing Fields

Next you begin adding fields to this category. You can add as many fields as you want with up to seven different data types. All categories start out with a single field called Name. Click one of the add field buttons to add more fields to fill in. For example, for the Member List category I created, I would create the following fields: "Member Name", "Phone Number", "Membership Level".

You can create fields with data types of text, number, money, date/time, choices (selection list), and also two types for linking to another category or listing of entries in a category (confusing at first - but a powerful option). With the fields all added and in place you can now begin importing data into the application. 

Step 4: Importing Data

Now that your application is created, you need to add entries into your database. Creating an entry can be done manually by hand, or you can import it from a spreadsheet. DabbleDB allows you to import data from a spreadsheet. Open your spread sheet software and start adding data. Once you finish, copy and paste into the import form in DabbleDB.

Once you continue, DabbleDB will detect how many rows of data are available for importing. Then you'll need to specify each column with an existing field within the category or create a new field name. Once this process is done, all your data will be imported.

Step 5: Viewing Data

To view your data, DabbleDB uses a feature called "The View". The view is a table or a calendar that shows you many entries at once, and arranges them in anyway you like. When you’re looking at a table view, you can show or hide columns for individual fields, choose fields to group or sort by, and add calculations like subtotals.

Step 6: Exporting Data

Data in your DabbleDB application database can be exported into many formats - PDF, CSV Document, iCalendar, HTML, OPML, and text. Additionally, an RSS feed is provided allowing people to subscribe to changes in data in your application.

Step 7: Sharing your Application

DabbleDB is designed to be a collaborative system, so you can share your application with other people. The number of people you can share depends on the type of plan you subscribe to. To add users, enter email addresses of people you wish to add and specify the permission. There are three levels of permission: Read, write and build, Read and Write and Read only.

Test it out with a free trial

DabbleDB is one of the really good web applications, but it is also one of the few with a nice business model. You can get started with a 30-day trail but to use DabbleDB further you'll need to pay. Discounted nonprofit pricing is based on number of users. An annual subscription for up to 5 users is $200; up to 15 users is $400.

It's also worth mentioning that in some ways DabbleDB is similar to our own Wild Apricot. The only difference is that DabbleDB is a generic and very flexible database for any kind of list while ours is specifically focused on member and donor management and automatically provides a bunch of features for that such as member application, member profile editing, member renewals etc.

Overall, I think DabbleDB is a great tool. I’d encourage you to check it out if you need to collaboratively develop and update a database. If anyone has used it, please let us know how it worked out. 

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 07 August 2007 at 9:00 AM


  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Tuesday, 04 September 2007 at 11:13 AM

    Here are the August 2007 most visited posts. These posts have gotten the most traffic, comments and feedback.

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Monday, 21 July 2008 at 6:19 PM

    In the first part of this article, we talked about various ways to show data in tables on your website or blog -- their strengths and their limitations. Here, we'll take a closer look at how to use Zoho Sheet, Google Spreadsheets, or DabbleDB to create

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