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?

17 thoughts on “Migrating away from DabbleDB”

  1. TrackVia is not offering the free migration offers that Quickbase and Caspio are, however, they do offer a 14-day free trial on their website (www.trackvia.com). Also, I’ve seen that in a week, they are launching “TrackVia 2.0” that will improve the user experience.

    TrackVia has also had rave reviews concerning their customer support.

  2. Hi Maria,

    Thanks for referring Zoho Creator here. I would like to invite all the users to try our software. We offer a very good deal on pricing only for Dabble DB customers.

    Email me at ruben[at]zohocorp[dot]com to get more information on this.


  3. Tried out the Caspio product, since its in our price range. The interface is much more complicated than Dabble’s, and unpleasant to use. It refused to recognize an Excel file, but imported the data as a CSV file just fine. Setting up relations and workflow processes will not be intuitive — we’ll have to spend a few days learning how it works. Not looking forward to it. Right now, Casio is in our “worst case scenario” option, due to the difficulties of using it — especially since we will have to train employees on it as well.

  4. Hi Maria

    Thanks for the tool assessment – I’ll be looking at Zoho again soon hopefully (I too haven’t looked at it for a number of years)…

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Dabble gets taken over though…

  5. Mike Ver Duin

    Tried Zoho, HyperOffice, and InfoDome so far.

    Zoho, first, support responds really fast (even if the answer is a no, or “we are looking into it”, but there is a lot of coding needed to even run a simple app. While the coding seems simple at first with drag and drop functions, there is no “book” of definitions for the functions or how to operate them. Even their forums are lacking in this respect. You have to figure it out for yourself. Oh, and the biggest downfall? only having one way to enter information on a form. Multiple views of the same information are about impossible if you can’t code it yourself.

    HyperOffice. Again, promising but doesn’t have a “self configurable” AutoNumber. They do have AutoNumber, but you can’t bring in your own data, and you can’t change theirs for this field. We rely heavily on that so they are out of the running. One positive about HyperOffice is that they respond as fast or faster than dabbledb to problems and concerns. They have a great feature for reporting problems and have no qualms about getting you on the phone and setting up a webinar to show you how to do something.(props to Brian Yi)

    Last, InfoDome, This seems to be the most promising for our workflow. More expensive, we’ll be at $50 instead of $24, but it can do what I want it to do and more, (at least it looks like it can so far). I’m having issues importing the CSV from Dabble, only getting 600 records out of 10,000 but I’ve yet to hear back from tech support. Fast database so far, but it is in flash so it’ll never port to my blackberry or an ipad, but we didn’t do that before.

  6. Mike —

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ll add HyperOffice to the list. HyperOffice looks like it starts at $45 — plus $10 a month extra for the database.

    — Maria

  7. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your feedback about Zoho Creator.

    It is possible to create multiple views for the same form. That does not require any programming knowledge (I mean, you need not touch the script tab, you can do it from the design mode of the view).

    To implement any advanced business logic, you can use our script and the tutorials can be found at http://help.creator.zoho.com .

    It is possible to set up your own auto number or import all your 10k records to Creator database.

    You can talk to me to get your questions answered.


  8. Pingback: Two paths from DabbleDB « Maria Korolov

  9. Hi, Maria and all the DabbleDB readers

    I’d like to add few words about MyTaskHelper.com (MTH).
    First of all, of course, we also offering FREE DAbbleDB migration for all dabble users.

    Maria, thank you very much for including us to your list. Thanks for all the suggestions and good feedback.
    I’ve updated our DAbbleDB migration blog post.

    We working on your suggestions.
    Already implemented your and other users feature requests. For example, Database filtering, Allow End User Edits, Database Export to Excel from widget, updated records email notifications, allow database editing from widget and even more.

    We will keep moving forward, and as were promissed we will have everything you missed from DAbbleDB and even more in MyTaskHelper.com in time. Working on our bad English and design.

    We offering the best prices in industry, discount for annual subscribers.

    Thank you,
    Igor Petrushenko

  10. Yo! mates. I checked out Caspio and have since converted. The ding about the page views above were all wrong, but makes sense now. With their $39.95/month package I was able to get all 10 of my databases up and online in one day. I’ve gotten 52,000 page views to data and am still within the limits of my account. And their support has been rather splendid, chaps. They pointed me to this page that helped me better understand their pricing, which is better than any of the other competitors I tossed around. Just thought I’d report back.


  11. Hi Maria,

    I’m the founder of Viravis (http://www.viravis.com). It is a platform that helps users to develop online database applications without programming.

    I will be really appreciated if you review our platform and add it as an alternative to DabbleDB. We are willing to help everyone who are migrating from DabbleDB for creating their application in our platform.

    Your feedbacks and expectations are very important to us. Please give us some feedback to improve and make our platform perfect.

    BTW, because dabbledb doesn’t allow new user registration, we could not post to the thread you created at their forum. So, it will be great if you may inform them about our platform.

    Thank you

  12. Ozgur —

    I’ve added it to the list above.

    I also posted about it here:


    I’ve got to say, though, that the interface isn’t ready for prime time, and the storage limits are too low. I’d be willing to pay extra for video/image/sound/document storage, but I need a much higher ceiling on plain text/numerical records.

    My comparison, Salesforce.com’s Force app-building platform offers 1 gig of storage and up to 100 users in its free option:


    And its CRM system starts at $5 per user per month for unlimited records.

    We’re doing extensive testing with Salesforce.com right now. To get us to switch to your platform, we’d need either a lower price, or an easier interface, or better functionality. Right now Viravis doesn’t offer us any of those.

    We liked Dabble — even though it was more expensive for us — because it was a joy to use. We’re willing to pay extra for a nice design and an intuitive interface.

    — Maria

  13. Maria,

    First of all thank you for your valuable feedbacks (here and at the dabbledb forum).

    Since Viravis is at the Beta stage we have some problems, lack of features and UI design issues but i want you to know that we are eager to improve/change the way platform works by the feedback we recieved. We are open to every kind of feedback that helps us to improve our platform.

    Let me explain/answer some of your critics about Viravis;

    1) Prices currently is not final and it may be change in the future by the favor of customers.

    2) Windows client is currently ready to use but web client is in the beta stage and some of its features disabled. So, you can’t build applications with web client but you can use the application that is created with windows client.

    3) Web client has been developed to mimic our windows client UI. It was not intented to work as an embedded list outside of the platform. we are planning on a feature that allow our users to publish their data as a form/list in a way that our competitor provides. But we take your critics about web UI seriously and probably will change it with an easy version. We will be really happy if you share your other expectations.

    4) Viravis is a multilanguage platform and provides the tool to develop multilanguage applications. If you install an application that is publish by a user who forget to translate some of the item’s captions, probably, that’s why you have seen some item in the Turkish. The problems you stated at the dabbledb forum about the language (like default login screen and delete button in turkish) are going to be investigated.

    Meanwhile, i want to tell you about 2 features that are unique to viravis and we think great.

    1) Advanced reporting infrastructure that allows you to create very rich reports

    2) Inheritance support.

    Finally, i want to tell you that we are giving free migration support for DabbleDB customers and willing to help you to build your application from scratch on our platform.

    Ozgur Kaya

  14. Ozgur —

    What does “advanced reporting” and “inheritance” actually mean in practice?

    What will I, as a business user, be able to do with the platform that I can’t do elsewhere?

    — Maria

  15. Maria,

    Sorry for confusion. With saying advanced reporting, i was trying to explain our report designer has more features that our competitors don’t have. You can create and design every kind of report without boundry. You can add image, charts, calculated fields, custom grouping etc. You can position every field in the report whereever you want it to shown. But, of course, it doesn’t have to be a great feature for everyone.

    We have some screencasts at our web site about the features we provide. They are bit primitive (no audio) but informative. Here the tutorial link about our report designer: http://www.viravis.com/en/Tutorials/ReportDesigner.aspx

    Hope you like it.


  16. I’ve been researching the problem of migrating away from DabbleDB as well. I’ve been playing with Zoho, but quickly ran into some perplexing limitations with links between tables that may be dealbreakers.

    Just noodling around, I’ve also encountered Grubba and Qrimp. At first glance, Qrimp looks like it should be able to do what Dabble does, and has an interesting data model that allows for hierarchical relationships between entries of a kind, as well as many-to-many relationships between different tables. One nice feature is that you can install Qrimp on your own server (but not cheaply). One drawback is that it’s really ugly—like Windows 95 ugly. They are offering to match Dabble’s prices with their hosted service.

  17. Here’s an update from MyTaskHelper.com — as you might recall, they offer unlimited storage, users, and databases for $20 a month, and there’s a free option as well.

    My big problem with them when I first tried them out (beyond the clunky interface — which still needs work) is that they didn’t allow relationships. Their databases were flat files. Well, they’ve made some changes.

    Here’s a note from their CEO, Igor Petrushenko (They’re based in the Ukraine):

    We are pleased to let you know about some important updates we have made to the MyTaskHelper system. We are confident that you will now find MTH will meet your needs as a replacement for DabbleDB. I’d like to highlight a few of the enhanced features we have released and get your feedback.

    1. We have complete re-branded the MTH design to make it more user friendly. This includes all of the aspects (form builder, widget builder, records management, etc). All of the elements in MTH have the new look and feel and we have already received positive feedback on the interface. We believe the point-and-click interface is incredibly intuitive. Usability remains our first priority.

    2. We’ve introduced new Plans to make the adoption of MTH very accessible. We have free plans to help people get started in a limited capacity and annual plans that give people get a big discount on unlimited use of the system. People can also sign up for unlimited use on a monthly basis and it is still more affordable than dabble, so we think people will appreciate this. Also we offering 25% discount for the first year of service for any dabbledb user.

    3. Relationships. We know that being able to build relationships would be a valuable thing to add to the MTH service, so we are pleased to announce that you can now use Relationships when building custom forms. Users can simply drag & drop their relationships and the database gets updated automatically. Users can also link forms when they are exported from SQL or other data sources. We’ve put together a short demo to show you how easy it is to work with Relationships. You can view the demo here: http://mytaskhelper.com/relationships-demo

    4. Views, which we call “Widgets” gives users a way to filter records and save searches, filters, and grouping. This is very helpful when you want to work with a subset of data in the database. We calling it Widgets. This is the way to filter records and save Search, Filtering, Grouping results, for being able to work with a subset of database. For being able to Export it, to run Subtotals, count records, average etc. We will be able to customize and integrate it soon (working on widget builder changes for this)

    5. You can Search, Sort, Paginate, Export, Filter database, properly navigate through it, export, run Total for the result of Search etc. We’ve really tried to create the ultimate experience in “slicing and dicing” your data.

    6. Grouping. This is a way to group your database by several columns. Again we have implemented this a little differently than other providers have done. Because of our insistence on usability, we are using Drag & Drop for changing table columns order in the group etc.

    7. Fitltering. This is a quick and intuitive way to filter database by one column. You just selecting table column and clicking on 0..9, a..z, A..Z. You can then paginate filtering result, run total, average and export to Excel. You can save result and use it later (like you did with Views in other systems).

    8. Database Widget Export to Excel, Allow End User Edits, Database Widget Editing, updated records email notifications. We have added a series of alerts that allow you to specify who gets notified and whether or not you want users to be able to edit their data once it is submitted.

    9. You can find User Role Management on the Team menu. Where you can set administrator or user of your database. We also working on improving it.

    10. A lot of new features in Widget Builder. You can find several new security, redirects, moderation and design options.

    Thank you for your continued interest in our product. We are dedicated to delivering the most value that we can to our customers and we will continually update and upgrade the system. The benefit of our system is that as soon as these update are released, you automatically get to the benefit of the new features.

    Please let us know if there are any questions on this. Also, we’d love to hear your feedback on the new features. We’ve created this simple feedback form to gather customer input. You can share your feedback by going to http://mytaskhelper.com/feedback

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