Since 1997, DDH Software, Inc. has been a leader in software solutions for the handheld computing industry. Its Palm Computing platform products include HanDBase, the award-winning customizable relational database solution; Thesaurus/Spell Checker; and Translate. DDH Software, Inc. also writes custom solutions for businesses on a contract basis.
HanDBase has carved niches in the medical, legal, real estate and educational fields. Now DDH Software is stepping in the Pocket PC arena with the release of HanDBase for Pocket PCs. Recently, I had the pleasure of discussing HanDBase with DDH’s CEO David Haupert.
Brighthand: HanDBase is certainly one of the most well-known databases for Palm users. What do you think makes it so popular?
David Haupert: A combination of flexibility and ease of use. Being able to create and modify the database layout right on the handheld has immeasurable value, as you really never know what works best until you are out there trying it out, firsthand. Coupling that with our HanDBase Desktop program gives users the choice of where to create and edit the databases based on their particular needs. We also just recently released a two-way synchronization conduit for HanDBase, which means not only can you edit data in both places, but you can do so at the same time without the risk of losing data when you HotSync.
Brighthand: You’ve just announced a Pocket PC version of HanDBase. What were the driving factors behind developing and releasing this product?
David Haupert: Definitely customer demand. One of the ways we decide what features to add to our next version release is to see how many users ask for the same feature. Support for Pocket PC has been growing tremendously. At the same time, we noticed that many of the requests came from users who either had HanDBase on their Palms and have also purchased Pocket PC devices, or worked alongside HanDBase Palm users, and wanted something similar on their handheld. With this in mind, we decided to make it our goal to achieve cross-compatibility with the Palm OS version. I’m happy to say this worked out beautifully! Not only can Pocket PC HanDBase users access the same .PDB files Palm handhelds use — such as in our HanDBase Applet Gallery — they can also beam records and databases directly to each other through the infrared ports of either device. For example, a doctor using a Pocket PC who is leaving the hospital for the day can beam the records of his patients to the doctor coming on call, regardless of whether he had a Palm OS or Pocket PC handheld.
Brighthand: How do you position HanDBase, for businesses or consumers?
David Haupert: That’s the great thing about having such a versatile product — it is equally useful in your business and personal life. I personally use HanDBase to track so many different aspects of both my business and personal life. My current count of databases in use on my handheld is 77! I use a business model I refer to as ‘Horizontal Verticals,’ which basically means that you take a horizontal market product, such as HanDBase, and market it as a product that can be useful to everyone. Then you also position it within the vertical spaces as a solution perfect for their needs. In terms of sales of products, up until recently, we had only really seen ‘back-door’ purchases by enterprise corporations. Now, each month, our sales from the enterprise sector are growing rapidly. I believe this upward trend is a significant indicator that adoption of handhelds by corporations is finally taking place.
Brighthand: How does maintaining an extensive download area of customer-submitted database templates add to the utility of a product like HanDBase?
David Haupert: Our applet gallery is definitely one of our key differentiators. Since we allow database layout editing on both the PC and on the handheld, taking what someone else has done as a starting point makes much more sense. With over 700 databases in our Gallery, it is quite possible someone else has already created and submitted a database applet you could either use as-is or as a starting point for creating a custom database. Since you can take that applet, use it, and then customize it to your needs right while you’re on-the-go, it becomes a very valuable resource. If we only allowed design on the PC, having someone else’s templates would probably not be even half as useful.
Brighthand: What’s in the works at DDH? Any exciting upcoming products?
David Haupert: Lots of things! In terms of new products, one I’m at liberty to tell about is that we are working on several plug-ins for our HanDBase Desktop, including ODBC and Microsoft Access convertors. We are also hard at work on V3.0 of HanDBase, which is a major update, with several new field types, tons of new features and improvements, and a few revolutionary new concepts in ‘databasing’, that will have to be left as a surprise for now!