Review: iList Data 3.2

An inexpensive and powerful database program (February 13th, 2007)

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Product Manufacturer: Lakewood Studios

Price: $69.95 US

The Good

  • Easy to set up Database. Exports data to Microsoft Word, Excel, and iPhoto. Powerful Search features. Graphing capability.

The Bad

  • Appearance customization is limited. Templates fall short on features. Interface design issues.

AppleWorks shipped with new Macintosh computers for many years and it included a simple, but useful built in database module. When Apple stopped shipping AppleWorks, it left few database creation alternatives for the average user. Although Excel, part of Microsoft Office, and FileMaker Pro are still available, they are expensive and difficult for the average user to master. iList Data is one of the few affordable stand-alone database solutions that remain. It is a simple, but somewhat powerful database application that helps users create databases with little effort.

Templates Help Start

iList Data 3.2 offers ten templates targeted at the home user, student, or teacher as a starting point. The templates include Appointments, Music CD, Contacts, Diary, DVD, Grades, Images, Sales, Survey, and Tasks. From those choices, I thought iList Data could condense the best features of many programs into one central place, for example, contacts, appointments, and to do lists. Some of the templates were useful, but most have limitations, i.e. they look good in theory, but fall short in implementation. They did not meet my expectations.

For example, the CD and DVD collection database templates include fields to enter Title, Artist, List Price, Purchase Price, and Tracks. Drop-down menus present common items such as Genres and Label or Movie Studio information. A field is also available to flag the CD or DVD as "Keep, Sell, or On Loan." I was able to drag and drop the CD cover art from iTunes or Amazon.com in a media image window, but I could not import the information from iTunes or Amazon. It is a nice feature they should add to the arsenal of tools. Upon closer examination of the database set-up fields, there is a value for an ,Amazon ID but it is simply a text field with no connectivity functions. A killer feature would be the ability to enter an Amazon ID or iTunes Store link and have the database pull all the information into the entry to avoid all that typing.

Print with MS Word

A few of the templates have similar shortcomings. I imported data from my Palm Desktop into the To Do template and lost some of the color-coding and a few of the fields were misplaced. The other templates are good starting points but you may have to tweak them by adding or deleting fields. You can send your data to Microsoft Word with a single click and, create a new document with all your data inserted into a table, ready for printing or a report. This is a very convenient feature.

Create Your Own

The power of iList Data is evident when you build a database from scratch. You create fields from a drop down menu and assign values for a set number of choices that relate to the entry. You enter and modify data directly in the list. The iList Data menu interface is awkward, with most design functions spread across the Edit, Administer, and Database menus. There are other non-intuitive interface elements also. For example, the Cancel and Close buttons in various screens sometimes appear on top and sometimes in the middle of screens. There is no consistency of design, which actually makes iList Data frustrating to use.

One limitation of iList Data is that you cannot easily change the appearance of your Database. You can change background colors, but you are limited to 4 or 5 basic views. The choose edit field box is small a drop-down menu and is not resizable, so a database with many fields means scrolling in a too small box.

Powerful Features

To its credit, iList Data offers a powerful find and search feature. You can do simple searches by keyword and text, or more complex, Structured Query Language (SLQ) searches. You can also graph data, a feature usually found in high end database products. New features in the Image tracking database include the ability to send pictures easily to iPhoto and a palette for viewing your pictures.

Fills A Void

Overall, iList Data 3.2 fills a void on the Mac platform for an affordable and powerful and somewhat easy to use database application. The included 72-page PDF manual is a good overview of how to use the App. Although I did not test all the included templates offered, some are good starting points. With the more advanced features of Mac OS X, such as Widgets that connect to the Internet to retrieve information and other applications that can send, receive, and share information, iList Data falls short. I hope that as the user base grows, users will submit templates that are more complete or create Automator scripts to add more functionality to the software.

Demo Online

If you want to evaluate iList Data, you can download a trial version that is hampered only by a 25 record limit. All of the features work, so you can give it a good test before purchase.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Art Payne


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