As promised last week, today we are leading off our series of interviews with developer Dave Haupert. Dave is the owner / developer for DDH Software, the author of handheld database manager HanDBase. As you read through the interview below, our questions will be in bold, while Dave’s responses will be indented. Please check out the full interview below, and be sure to leave any questions you may have for Dave in the comments section at the bottom!
Hi Dave. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell the readers at JAMM a little bit about the history of DDH Software, and the mobile solutions it offers?
Sure, DDH Software was started in 1997, making programs for the original PalmPilot devices. We were the first multi-language translator of it’s kind. Also Developed a Thesaurus and Spellchecker which were very popular.
In mid-1998 we released HanDBase, a relational database manager (then for Palm OS). With HanDBase users can create custom database applications on their device It was insanely popular, and HanDBase remains our flagship product to this day, consuming nearly all of our time and efforts. We now offer HanDBase on many additional platforms including iPhone, BlackBerry, S60, Windows Mobile, and more.
How did you get into mobile developing?
I purchased a PalmPilot to try to get my life organized and found more opportunities than solutions out there. Each time I found a need personally I would look for a solution and come up wanting. So I decided to develop solutions for my own needs and in the process began selling them as a way to make some extra side money. When HanDBase came out, it started becoming more than just an off-hours endeavor for me and that’s when the company really begin to take root!
Your flagship product is HanDBase, a database manager program. For users that don’t know what the benefits of having a database management type of program is, what do you tell them are the reasons why they need one? What features make HanDBase unique?
While everyone uses their devices for email, calendars, contacts, etc, each person has a unique set of needs beyond that. A database program is a flexible solution to let people develop the solutions for those unique needs. You can decide what data you want to keep track of, choose from a wide variety of field types and design your own custom-made solution. Since each person is unique, the examples are a wonderful variety. We see databases to track passwords, checkbook registers, shopping lists, to do and project tasks. Sports schedules and stats, recipe tracking, prayer lists, diet and exercise logs, etc. But we also see Physicians storing Patient billing and drug information, warehouse workers collecting and modifying inventories, and sales orders and survey forms. So there is a range there from personal management and organization to business productivity. And each day it seems we’re hearing of more and more new uses for HanDBase!
What HanDBase brings beyond a basic database program is a slew of advanced features. For example, you can easily create custom views of your data. So, if your database is tracking the tasks you need to do for a big project, instead of just a big list of all project tasks, you can create a view that shows only those that are due this week, or those you’ve done in the last 2 days. We have data encryption on any or all fields. On some platforms we offer custom forms designers so you have total control over the look of the data entry forms. And we offer desktop versions of HanDBase and conduits that sync between the desktop and the devices, even syncing to popular database applications like Microsoft Access, Filemaker Pro, and SQL Server.
And a major differentiating factor for our product is our relational support. Rather than just keep independent lists of data, your tables can interact with each. This means you can have a table of Customers, for example, and another table of their Orders, and these interrelate so you’re not having to re-enter the same information over and over!
Based on the needs I had at the time- I was looking to track a few things in my efforts to get organized. Having a Checkbook register was the first need, and trying to keep track of projects I was working on was another. I quickly realized as a customer I shouldn’t have to purchase a different app for every need I have, and quickly realized as a developer I shouldn’t have to develop separate apps for every solution I can dream up. And that’s how HanDBase was born!
Can you tell our readers anything about upcoming projects you are working on?
There are three major projects going on simultaneously here at DDH Software- one is an Android version of HanDBase. Another is enhancing our HanDBase for Mac product to better match the features we offer on the Windows side. Lastly, adding forms support to HanDBase for iPhone is just getting underway as well.
It’s getting harder and harder to keep up, isn’t it?! I think in the past year we’ve seen the old mainstay portable OS’ like Palm OS and Windows Mobile lag far behind the new players like Android and iPhone. And it’s forced them to go back and reinvent themselves from the ground up. This has been shown with Palm’s WebOS devices like the Pre and Pixi, and seems to be happening later this year with the Windows 7 Phone Series replacing Windows Mobile. Even Nokia is revamping it’s S60 platform to a great degree. And so instead of the newer ‘guard’ replacing the older one, we’re just now having more choices. As customers, more choices as to which platform is best, and as developers which platforms to support with our products.
We’ve always tried to support users where they are, and will continue to do so, while trying to keep some sense of focus on the most popular mobile platforms so we can deliver exceptional products!
Dave, thanks again for the interview. We really appreciate it!
Thanks again for the opportunity.
Thanks again to Dave for agreeing to participate in our JAMM series of developer interviews. Please hit the comments below to leave any questions that you may have for Dave.
You can find out more about DDH Software and the different versions of HanDBase they offer by visiting:
Disclosure: I, Brian Houghton, do work part time for DDH Software. I work as a consultant, which means I answer support emails. DDH Software and JAMM are not affiliated in any way.