HanDBase from DDH Software

Review of HanDBase


Recipient of the PDA cortex

golden software award

Health professionals are dependent on data. Conversion of the raw data into information requires incorporating the results of an action into domain knowledge. Providing access to databases (some specialized) that will illustrate relationships between the variables can provide nurses with knowledgeable decisions to plan the delivery of nursing care more appropriately.

Databases are the foundation of application programs. The emergence of handheld devices for point-of-care solutions has created challenges in programming for taking the health data to the mobile device.

Being an individual who does not possess "programming language skills" in the realm of computers presented quite a dilemma when I chose to develop a healthcare application for implementation on a PDA for my final project to receive my post graduate certificate in nursing informatics from Excelsior College. I was developing a data collection tool to be utilized in the nursing home environment. I needed the ability for desktop entering, form development and numerous linking of fields. I used another data base building tool and found the process to be both frustrating and painful. Since that time (fall 2000), I "discovered" HanDBase. The power of HanDBase and it's user friendly interface would have made the task easier and less stressful ...Live and learn :)

The current HanDBase version is 2.75, that requires close to 200k of memory. This is a simple intuitive development tool for applications that can be downloaded for the Palm OS and Pocket PC (and I assume those with older version of WIN CE. There is even the capability to edit and view your palm databases on a Mac. The newest addition is HanDBase Plus that contains both the handheld and desktop functionality along with a conduit.

As an example of the conduit utility, let us say you are employed in community health. Clients often use more than one service. In this example, an antepartum client accesses home visits with the public health nurse, makes office visits for WIC services. The field nurse and the office nurse can work on the same database either simultaneously or at separate times on the same day. When hot synched the conduit compares the two files and mergers the data, thus allowing documentation data for both services. The result produces improved coordination of care and individual healthcare planning to optimize the clients visits.

Another unique function is the HanDButton program. This feature provides the ability to set up a list and switch between the applications you use most frequently. It works like a toggle switch. It also affords the user the ability to set up a hardware button for this access.

The HanDBase Internet support site http://www.ddhsoftware.com/support.html has a premier tutorial on use complete with screen shots. All you need to do is review and read it thoroughly. Then after downloading, follow the examples and you are off into the realm of building your own database applications. The company provides access to their in-house experts who answer issues is a timely manner. Of course, the option also exists to pose questions to other users and developers in the HanDBase user group. I would recommend joining the user group early.

There are 15 field types from which to choose. These will suffice for the majority of self-builders of applications.

  • Maximum Number of Databases: 100
  • Maximum number of characters in a Database name: 19
  • Maximum Number of Fields per database: 30
  • Maximum Number of Records per database: 65000
  • Maximum size of a Text or DB Popup field: 254
  • Minimum number in an Integer field: - (negative) 2147483647
  • Maximum number in an Integer field: 2147483647
  • Minimum number in a Float field (depending on number of decimal places set by user): - (negative) 2147483647.9999
  • Maximum number in a Float field (depending on number of decimal places set by user): 2147483647.9999
  • Minimum Date possible in a Date field: 1/2/1904
  • Maximum Date possible in a Date field: 12/31/2031
  • Maximum size of a note field: 2000 characters
  • Maximum number of Popup Items per field: 60
  • Maximum number of levels deep links can follow: 4 Databases
  • Maximum number of DB popups in a group: 5

Prices are very reasonable for the functionality available.
HanDBase Plus-$29.99
HanDButton $5.99

The HanDBase API, known hereafter as API, was created to allow Palm OS software developers a simple way to interface their applications with HanDBase Databases. You can format a report template, and then grab data from selected HanDBase databases to print or email in the report.

If you like what Microsoft Access can do, you'll love the HanDBase Text fields, which can be visible or hidden. The note field affords the ability for a memo pad like note and a popup to insert common phrases, words, etc.

Two functions that I could not get to function in other development programs were the Image capture that you can pen draw an image or have a handwritten signature. The export/print option controls whether a field is printed. However, the PalmPrint, PrintPocketCE and IrPrint drivers do not support graphics. This prevents direct printing of image fields from the handheld. These fields can be printed from the PC desktop tool.

There is a heading field that organizes sections of your database with bold centered headings. What an easy method to transition and know that this has occurred.

Besides all of the above functionality, this wonderful program allows bar code scanning and supports Symbol SPT models 1500, 1700 and 1740. In addition, it offers the PSC Momentum Scanner devices that supports Bar Code scanning with any Handspring handheld.

An author screen will identify who wrote the program and the security interface can set the type of access permissions allowed for individual users. These range from full access, password required, no access and view records only.

There are three options for beaming. You can beam a selected database to be sent to another user. You can choose to only beam a single record and lastly you can beam groups of records.

The desktop manual is superb and matches functionality found in Microsoft Access but is so easy to use. Even the novice builder of databases should have no problem understanding the directions!

This is a must have development tool, that is reasonably priced and deserving of the PDA cortex golden software award. Like Siskel and Ebert did with their movie reviews, I give HanDBase two thumbs up!

Sylvia Suszka Hildebrandt, MN, RN, ARNP,CASNI , Editor PDA cortex

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