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timeline for forms in android

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:50 am
by edwin2011
i know this is a hot item but please give a timeline for forms on android.
I'm still using my old palm treo because of the running database on it and i really hate to carry two smartphones. Android seems to be the only smartphone platform that has the same potential as the dead palm platform.

Re: timeline for forms in android

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:00 pm
by dhaupert
Hi there,

Thanks for your post. At this point they are not included in any development timeline here at DDH. This is because I don't yet have firm plans to develop forms for Android. It's obviously the feature that existing users most want in Android- the problem is that there aren't yet enough Android HanDBase users to warrant a half of year of development time to implement this feature. While other features may be less requested, they are something I can develop in days or even weeks, not half a year.

I know it's hard to fathom that the top selling platform doesn't have enough HanDBase users to justify this work. Let me provide a 'fictionalized' example:

Imagine you were a developer working a full time job at a company and wanting to earn some extra cash to pay for your upcoming wedding. You design a program for Platform A that you hope will earn you some extra cash and quickly find that this program is successful. So successful, you're able to quit your day job and work on it full time.

So now you have 40+ hours of week to work on projects. You want to pick the projects that will be the most successful, that would earn the most revenue so you can pay your bills, buy a house, and justify all your work and time spent away from your new family.

You now have a choice- add features to Platform A and hope to grow the user base more, develop add-on features for Platform A that you can charge additional for to existing customers, or develop for Platform B and find a whole new base of customers.

You choose the first option- adding more features, which causes the user base to swell and suddenly you're making enough money to pay your bills and then some. You hire additional staff and grow your company. You then have enough to concentrate on Platforms A, B, C, and D, as well as adding features to Platform A, and creating add-ons that you can sell to users on all platforms. Things are going well, each platform is bringing in income though programs for Platform A are still far outselling B, C, and D. This despite the fact that Platform B, C, and D devices themselves are outselling Platform A by a large margin at this point. Why is that, you wonder? If there are more platform B, C ,and D devices out there, why aren't my sales reflecting this? You being to wonder if it's the lack of features in your Platform B, C, and D versions, and so you begin to add the same feature-set that Platform A version had. That doesn't seem to help, and now you just spent a great amount of time on a platform that was not generating the amount of income to even cover the cost of development. You realize slowly that income from the program for Platform A, though a fading platform, has actually been paying for the development of Platform B, C, and D's features.

That's not a healthy economy for your business, as you learn when Platform A fades from existence. Platform B, C, and D are now the active platforms du jour and your main source of income is slowly fading away since B, C, and D never lived up to the expectations you had. Over time, you have to shrink your company to be able to continue to make your bills. You downsize your home, cars, and life style due to your shrinking income. Eventually you're down to just you and a few part time employees and are making a fraction of the income and therefore salary you had just years before.

Enter Platform E. This platform, while very different than it's predecessors in many ways, turns out to be more successful for you than B, C, or D ever were, and quickly puts them to rest in the market. You develop for Platform E and since you see success on this platform, you add more features to it as you did in the early days of Platform A. It begins to be the majority source of your income and while you don't make enough to grow the business back to prior depths, you are able to see the sales curve grow for the first time in many years.

Now comes Platform F. This platform, like B, C and D before it grows rapidly in terms of number of users using those devices, and so you see potential to add your program to Platform F. This time, you're more careful not to sacrifice your existing business for a new potential platform- you learned from the mistakes of the past. So you develop a Platform F program and decide to let the sales of Platform F fund it's own development, that is, if the program is successful on platform F, you'll spend much more time adding features and add-ons. If not, focus on Platform E which does seem to justify further features and growth.

You quickly find that Platform F, while the most popular platform of all, does not have the userbase for your product that Platform E, let alone Platform A had. You wish things were different as there is so much potential there, but you are much more cautious about putting months of time developing for platform F based on it's current sales level for you.
Thus you focus mainly on Platform E, the one that pays your bills while trying to provide enough attention to Platform F to keep it useful and effective so that if Platform F does begin to show potential, you'll know it and can then justify spending additional time on Platform F.


I use the term fictionalized above only because there are no such platforms out there. Those of you who have followed DDH from the early days can probably fill in the blanks about which companies are being referred to! But this is why I'm very cautious about adding features to Android. I have made early mistakes running this business that nearly cost me the entire business, and I am much more careful and judicious about upcoming platforms than I ever was before. I know that a popular selling mobile platform does not equate to success for HanDBase. The types of users that buy HanDBase don't always go with the top selling mobile platform. That said, when a platform shows potential I make a calculated risk to develop for it and based on the outcome of that risk, I put more or less time and effort into it as it further develops.

So what does that all have to do with forms on Android? It means that I am open to the idea of forms on android, but at this point, I am not seeing the revenue from sales of the program to pay for the development of the forms feature. And until I do begin to see that growth, I won't begin work of forms for Android. In the interim, I have plans to add a bunch to the Android version over this summer, some other popular requested features that require less development time, and hope that this will help add some much needed momentum to the project for me. Then we'll see where it goes from there. Hope this insight is helpful and interesting to you!

Re: timeline for forms in android

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:39 pm
by kronhead
Dave - if you don't mind us discussing the general issue of smartphones and smartphone users - I wonder WHY Handbase is doing better on Iphone than on Android?

Here are some possibilities that occur to me:
- Is it a question of needs of the user base? I certainly don't THINK of iphone users as being more business or data oriented than Android users, but what do I know?
- I know some people say Android users hate to pay for anything.
- Also, I hear iphone apps LOOK better than Android apps ...
- alternative products? I never found anything close to handbase in the Android space - altho lots of things CALL themselves list managers - but they did not have any flexibility - mostly canned lists, usually tasks and/or shopping. Maybe people cannot FIND Handbase in the midst of false advertising for competitors.
- marketing/word of mouth/ability to be noticed/evangelists? Does the folks at the Apple Genius desk recommend Handbase?

Anyone have any ideas? Anyone with a better sense of the iphone space?

Also, what can we do to promote Handbase? Years ago, I would gave said write to PC Mag about PC software - but now we need - what - blogs? All of us with web pages need to do a writeup and put some links to handbase - with links to each other so we will pop to the top of search results, maybe. We could share ideas on the best keywords to use that potential customers might search for ...

Dan K

Re: timeline for forms in android

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:31 pm
by dhaupert
Hi Dan,

I certainly don't mind the discussion! I have actually shared on this topic in some other threads, so don't want to rehash too much of it. I'm honestly not sure why it is, but do know that it's not just a HanDBase problem. I shared an article on this thread:

That explained it was very widespread- big developers puzzled why they don't sell many apps on Android. I personally think there are different user types on different platforms and that as a whole Android users are more gravitated to open source, free software than paid software. And there is no shortage of free software, which perpetuates the situation. Just like on iPhone the first apps were all low priced (0.99) and now there is little option to charge more than 9.99 for any type of software.

I'd love to hear more on this topic!

Re: timeline for forms in android

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:52 pm
by moneil
That was a really insightful and interesting chronology Dave, and while one may be disappointed in not having certain products or features available, I don’t think one can disagree with your business model.

My “semi-beloved” Palm Pre fell apart (literally) this week (WebOS was beloved, the Pre not so much). I had been waiting for the Pre3 and the TouchPad tablet, but I’d have to find someone to “homebrew” them to get the Classic emulator installed so I could continue to use HanDBase for Palm. I know lots of Android “rooters” but have not met a “homebrewer” except on line, so that could have been a problem. Besides that nuisance there seems to be an unknown (from what I’ve read) as to whether new devices would be able to access in the Palm marketplace apps for WebOS versions prior to the latest update and the new devices (especially the Classic app).

I am getting the Pre replaced through Sprint’s insurance but I was eligible for an upgrade and walked out of the shop with an htc Evo. The first think I did when I got home was download HanDBase for Android, and the desktop component so I could sync. I also found a starving college kid to do whatever is needed to make the Nook color access the Android market (growing too impatient waiting on the Barnes & Noble app market to acquire products I would find useful), and I’ll purchase HanDBase for that also, when I am able. I’m still hoping someday to see HanDBase for a product G but we’ll all have to wait and see what HP makes of that product in the marketplace.

For the past 72 hours I’ve been pleased with the Android product, as I learn its operation, and limitations from the Palm version.

I would like forms to, but some other features would be more immediately useful (like scrolling across the columns in list view – if that’s possible now I haven’t discovered it yet).

When I first started using HanDBase (on a Sony Clie) I played around with the forms. I thought they were very cool, but I didn’t use them so much except on databases with a large number of fields (like more than 10). When I started using HanDBase on the Palm Pre I went on a form building frenzy, mostly because I was trying to use a stylus program on a touch screen and I needed bigger navigation and control buttons to work with. There were a couple of other PalmOS programs that worked well through Classic but were almost impossible to navigate through on a touch screen. With the Palm I didn’t set up custom views in most databases, but I can see potential for using that feature to compensate for an absence of forms (and lateral column scrolling).

To the original poster: Without knowing the nature or construction of your databases, you may find even a “form less” Android HanDBase on a device with a generous screen size and very responsive vertical scrolling to work well for you. The forms still work on the desktop.

I am missing many features of WebOS, especially being able to have several “cards” open at once (which I’m thinking would be really amazing on a tablet) but I know I’d miss HanDBase much more. A big reason for getting the Pre (HanDBase for Android wasn’t yet available) was so I wouldn’t have to carry two devices and so information would always be “at hand” (many times I would be in a store with my Blackberry and remember that the Palm TX ~ with the shopping list ~ was out in the car in the messenger bag).

Thanks for a great product Dave, and hoping for its (and your) continued success and growth.

Re: timeline for forms in android

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:08 am
by curtterp
Part of the problem that also exists is that you are starting to see iPhone/iTouch users come over to Android, buy HanDBase for Android, then are disappointed that it is not as polished as the iPhone/iTouch app. These people will also leave negative feedback instead of coming to the forum. They also do not understand that HanDBase for iOS has a 2 year headstart on HanDBase for Android. Also, people sometimes have unreal expectations of what HanDBase for Android should have been out of the gate. They expect to see an app as polished as their 13 year old cousin (Palm) or their two year old sibling (iOS). They also think that DDH is some huge company, not one programmer trying to make a decent living bring joy and sanity to the handheld world, by providing as easy to use Database that a person can use without having a DBA degree.

If you want to try to help get the word out, join some community forums for Android, or your specific phone forums. If you see someone struggling trying to do something, mention HanDBase to them, give them links to the forum, website etc. Giving them a short explanation on how you use it will also give them idea's on how to use HanDBase.

Hopefully we can help drive adoption of happy customers to HanDBase for Android in order to get Forms..... Although the reporting feature is the one I miss from my old Palm/Windows Mobile days :D

Re: timeline for forms in android

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 12:32 pm
by DB100
I don't agree with the theory that Android users are somehow less inclined to pay for an app, and that's why HanDBase-For-Android is not selling. All you have to do is go into the Android Market and look up the HanDBase reviews. You will see an awfully lot of one and two star reviews. Legacy users who are migrating from an older platform like Palm or Windows Mobile, don't care about reviews. They have mature databases and they can tolerate the shortcomings confident that improvements will come. But new users are different. They read the reviews. And frankly, if I were a new user, there's no way I'd pay for an app that was getting one/two star reviews.

That suggests to me that your priority should be to first quickly address the issues raised by the reviews, rather than work on a large update with lots of improvements. You won't get new users as long as the reviews look the way they do.

The two main issues the reviews raise seem to be: 1) Database stability 2) The appearance of the record view with too much space devoted to the field names. Number 2 could be quickly addressed, but I don't know about number 1. If you can identify a stability issue and fix it, then great. Perhaps this would allow you to reverse the one/two star reviews.

Interestingly, as an experienced user, I encountered both issues. I don't like the record view and agree with the negative reviews. Also, I had a table with encrypted fields and suddenly I could no longer encrypt the data. So I question the stability. However, I DID NOT go into the Android Market and bad-mouth HanDBase. For all those experienced users who did: You're just shooting yourself in the foot. You're causing prospective new users from trying the software. Wouldn't it have been better to address your issues on this forum?

Re: timeline for forms in android

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:29 pm
by kronhead
DB100 wrote:They read the reviews.

Thanks for reminding me that I had not rated Handbase at all - good or bad. I just added my own positive review - let's all make sure we do.

Dan K

Re: timeline for forms in android

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 3:38 pm
by Brian_Houghton
This is an interesting thread! I'm going to come at it from a slightly different perspective:

1. First, there are some negative reviews of HanDBase for Android in Android Market. That's a fact. The unfortunate problem with this is that most users who leave a negative review never email support for help. There's no way we can follow up on the reviews. I've watched reviews for Android closely - for HanDBase and other programs, since I am primarily an Android user now. To be honest, I'm not impressed at all with the review concept. Some are fair and justified, some simply aren't. If you want to see a good example of this, read the reviews on the Amazon Free App of the Day each morning! This is true of HanDBase and a great deal of other programs. I'd encourage anyone to write a comment or review for an application. If it's negative, you should do so after exhausting efforts with the support of the company. This is true for whatever application and whatever platform you use.

2. I do and don't agree with the notion of Android users being reluctant to pay for a program. Reading reviews, many are quite happy to make demands on something they get for free, and are sometimes taken aback that something costs at all. Not all users are this way, though. In fact I think the earlier group I mention is the vocal minority. People pay for quality. The problem here is that $9.99 is considered a steep purchase price compared to many Android apps, so users are reluctant to spend that amount even though it's probably not a fair price in the first place (too low). The 99 cent app did a lot to harm the mobile development community. The free app mentality did a lot of harm as well. Some people think that an ad-supported app is great. For me, I'll pay to get rid of the ads or if not possible, ... Note that I consider this completely different than real freeware and open source software. Ad supported software is not freeware, in m opinion.

Note that these are just my random thoughts, not Dave's.

Re: timeline for forms in android

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:53 pm
by DB100
Back when I was using a Palm Treo smartphone, I had two power apps: HanDBase and PocketMoney. My PocketMoney had 10 years of my finances on it. If I was in a bank and a question came up, I could pull out my phone and bring up the details of a check I had written 5 years ago. So when I started thinking about moving to Android, I had to consider these two apps. I was happy to see that Android versions were coming for both.

Now I'm on Android and guess what - both HanDBase and PocketMoney are going thru the exact same growing pains. The iPhone versions of each are highly rated and very popular. The Android versions much less so. But for me, I'm happy with both apps since I was able to bring in all my old data. I can see glitches in each - but there's enough functionality there so I can wait for future improvements.

I just thought I'd mention this so you'd know you're not alone - other software packages are having the same issues.

In regards to reviews, I've been noticing something. I've downloaded some apps that were rated high. Mostly 5 stars with the occasional 1 star (which I mentally disregard). I was very pleased with these apps - but I noticed that when I first ran them, a screen came up that had a message encourageing me to go into the Android Market and give them a 5 star rating. So these apps were taking the Android review process very seriously. They were actively soliciting positive reviews. I wonder if this in any way explains all the 5 star reviews they had. If so, then there's a lesson there.