Migrating away from DabbleDB

DabbleDB, the online relational database platform that our company runs on, has been bought by Twitter. And, according to Dabble’s founders, Twitter has no interest in running a database company — they bought DabbleDB for the brainpower of the team behind it, not for the product. We are promised 60 days notice before the service shuts down.

We love DabbleDB. We use it to run our editorial workflow. To collect research data. For customer relationship management. And to do our bookkeeping.   The only things we don’t do on Dabble are email and our website. Everything else – Dabble.

We would rather not move.

But if the founders can’t figure out a way to keep the service going, we’ll have to start looking for alternatives right now, since it will probably take a while to migrate.

I’ve been investigating the alternative to DabbleDB, so that we’re prepared in case we need to make a move.

The top candidates seem to be:

Inquit QuickBase — Starts at $300 a month. So out of our reach. Intuit QuickBase offers a free trial and migration support.

Zoho Creator — has a free option, for less than 1,000 records. For our size database, we’ll probably need the $45 or $100 plan. A little pricey. Last time we looked at it, we decided not to use it because it required too much programming on our end — they may have improved the interface since then. Zoho offers to build your apps for free if you switch from DabbleDB.

Caspio — starts at $40 a month, which can handle our size database. (There’s also a free personal option.) The “data page” constraints worry me — seems to be their version of Dabble’s Page Views (for external forms, etc…) In which case pretty limited, may need the pricier plan. Caspio offers free migration support, and a free trial.

TeamDesk — starts at $50 a month.That’s $50 per application. If you want unlimited applications, it’s $250 a month. With Dabble, we kept our editorial workflow apps separate from the bookkeeping apps (for obvious reasons — we didn’t want our writers to be able to give themselves raises) but if TeamDesk has the workflow features that they promise to have, then we might be able to isolate the functions from one another within the same application. TeamDesk offers a DabbleDB migration tool that promises to move everything over.

InfoDome — starts at $20 a month, but just for 6,000 records. InfoDome doesn’t offer any deals, but does have instructions for migrating from DabbleDB.

TrackVia — starts at $99 a month, for up to five users — and 100,000 records.   I can’t find any special offers or discounts for migrating DabbleDB customers.

MyTaskHelper — starts at $20 a month, for unlimited users, projects, and storage. Supports all the top field types, including images and file attachments. Completely point-and-click interface — no scripting. Can create forms and views to embed in website. However, does not currently support the ability to link tables (i.e., it’s not a relational database), can’t filter the views, and no user role management. They’re promising me that they’ll have this functionality done before DabbleDB shuts down (if DabbleDB shuts down). And they promise that they’ll keep the interface to a Dabble-style point-and-click rather than the Zoho-style code-and-script. Their entire interface right now looks a little raw and in-progress. The company is based in the Ukraine, and there are awkward phrasings and odd word choices around the site, as well.

Viravis — free for one user and up to 1,000 records. $50 a month for five users and 25,000 records. So more expensive, and less useful than Dabble. Interface isn’t as nice, and some of it is in Turkish. To use all the functionality, you have to download a Windows application to access the database.   Since the interface is so clunky, you’d probably have to create a Web interface for it from scratch and host it on your own site — and if you’re going to go do that, might as well go all the way and hire someone to set up a custom MySQL database for you.

Have I missed any others?

Does anyone out there have any recent experience with any of these databases?