Create a database with Sodadb

To set up the administration of a drama club or to organize an ever-growing collection of comics, you need a digital management system. You can then use smart search functions to print lists, mailings and labels. Avoid that your administrative system ends up in a cluttered, dead-end street and use a database! With the free program Sodadb you can set up an online database that you can easily share with others.

Tip 01: 10,000 records

There are quite a few free online database solutions out there. Here we use Sodadb (Simple Online Database), an online database manager that prides itself on its user-friendliness. To make it as easy as possible for the user, the makers have ditched the specialist functionalities. In the free version, you can manage up to 10,000 records, which is more than enough for most home users. If you want to increase this to 35,000 records, you pay $3.49 per month. In Sodadb it is possible to upload external files to associate them with records, but in the free version the storage space is very limited. You can share and modify the database via a web address. In addition, Sodadb encrypts the connection to the server, so that your data is protected. And finally, in principle no registration is required. Surf to and get started.

Database vs Spreadsheet

Spreadsheets and databases are used to manage, store, search and modify data. A spreadsheet comes in handy to handle a lot of data of the same type, such as a long but simple address list. However, if you want to view different data sources in relation to each other, you need a database. A database is like a spreadsheet on steroids. In a database it is easier to manage a lot (hundreds or thousands) of data. Moreover, such a database is created to collect data through advanced searches. From the result of the search you can then, for example, print labels or send e-mails. You can also easily assign different rights to various user groups. For example, one group is only allowed to see the basic information, while there is also a group that is allowed to edit data, and a group that can only see and edit the data that these group members have entered themselves.

Tip 02: Templates

If you have never worked with a database, it is best to take a look at the templates. At the top right are the Templates in the green box. They look promising: a personal address book, a music collection, a film and book collection, business contacts and more. You can expand the set of templates and then you get even more: an online petition, a customer base and so on. Under these links you will also see the link Start from Scratch for those who want to start from scratch. The templates are organized in Personal and business. If you find designing the database too difficult, the designer is willing to adapt the database to your personal wishes, for which he only asks a small donation.

You can start from a template, useful if you've never worked with a database before

Tip 03: Secret URL

Let's start from Personal address book. In the next window, a wide orange bar blocks part of the screen. Sodadb asks for your email address to publish your database on a secret internet address. Via this personal url the program will save the design and all settings for the next time. After you have entered your email address, Sodadb will ask if this is your first online database. If you have created even more databases with this tool, you can manage them together. If you just want to take a look at the template, click I'll do this later.

Multiple databases

Just because you have to enter one email address doesn't mean you can only create one database. You can link multiple databases to the same email address. In the tab My other forms you will find all the databases you have created with this program.

Tip 04: Records and fields

You can read the announcement in the work window of the personal address book No records found. A database is made up of records that you can compare with information sheets. Each record contains data in different fields. The names of the fields are in bold. These field names are currently in English. To edit those fields you need to go to the Options menu, top left. Open this menu and click Set up your custom fields. With Sodadb, each record can contain a maximum of 35 fields: that's a lot of information. To keep things a little clearer, Sodadb bundles those 35 fields into groups of 5.

Tip 05: Edit fields

Click on the first group: Show fields 1-5. To start with, you can replace the English field names with Dutch terms. When there are fields in the template that you don't want to show, you can make them invisible by setting Visible on no configure. You may add help text to each field name. This is text that will appear in light gray below the field to help users enter all data correctly. In this way you indicate, for example, how a date should be noted. In this template, fields 1 to 5 are all of the column type. Satisfied with these first five? Then adjust fields 6 to 10, and so on. Don't forget on the Savebutton before closing this window.

Drop down

To allow only certain options in a certain field, you work with a drop-down menu. In this example we will write the province in field 6. To edit the type of input field, click on the button to the left where now column type stands. Here you select the option dropdown. Enter the new choice values ​​in the green box, for example: 1_Drenthe:2_Flevoland:3_Friesland and so forth.

Tip 06: Fill in manually

All field names that you have adjusted look neat and the help text is also clear. When all fields are ready, you can manually fill in the first record. Press the button New and then the first chip appears, which has immediately been given a serial number. Once you have filled in the first form, there is the button Save & New to prepare the next record. When you're ready, click Save. This returns you to the column overview where all records appear below each other.

To make the importing run smoothly, there is an import template on the website

Tip 07: Excel to database

If you have a list in Excel or in Word, you can of course retype that information, but that is a boring job. In addition, typing errors are guaranteed to end up in the database in this way. Therefore, it makes much more sense to import an existing list into Sodadb. This program only imports data saved as a csv file. Csv stands for 'comma-seperated values', so the data must be separated by commas. In addition, the file must contain as many columns as foreseen in your database.

Tip 08: Import template

To ensure that the import process runs smoothly, there is an import template on the website. You can find it through the Options menu and there you choose Import your data. In this box click Download your database template. A few seconds later you will have a CSV file that can be opened in Excel. In this spreadsheet all columns are already ready based on the database you have created. Now open your own old list of data. Copy the data and paste it into the appropriate columns of the Excel template. Then save this Excel file as: a comma separated values ​​(.csv). Then you return to the Options menu. Click below Import your data on the button Choose File. Select the .csv file you just prepared. And all data rolls neatly in the online database without you having to type a single letter.

If you find the import procedure still too difficult, you can call on the developer. On the Sodadb website we read that the designer wants to import the data for you. He only asks for a small donation for this.

Tip 09: Easy search

When the database consists of hundreds or maybe even thousands of records, you cannot do without a search function. The search form allows you to consult the database using various logical equations. Suppose you want to search for the data of Elise Janssen, then click on Show normal search form. This will bring up a search form in which all fields are available. You enter next to the search field First Name the term Elise in and at Last name the term Janssen. Then click the Search button below the keywords to find the records that match this search.

Save searches

For example, if you looked up who's birthday is in January and who's birthday is in February, you can record these advanced assignments for later. The saved searches appear one after the other in the search box at the top left. You can open this by clicking on the blue box with the white arrow.

Some users are only allowed to view data, others also enter and change information

Tip 10: Advanced Search

With Sodadb it is possible to perform advanced searches. It's actually simpler than it looks. The search query that we just entered via the field boxes appears in the search field as #First Name# = 'Elise' AND #Last Name# = 'Janssen'. In the search, the field is enclosed in hash marks and the search term is enclosed in single quotes. So if you #FirstName# = 'Elise' OR #FirstName# = 'Elisa' , Sodadb searches for all records with the first names Elise or Elisa. Have you built a database of thousands of CDs that consists of the fields: Artist, Album, Number of CDs. Then you will find with the search #Number of CDs# < '5' all artists of which you have less than five CDs. It is going too far to cover all logical functions and possible searches here, there are plenty of examples in the Help function of this program.

Tip 11: Additional users

To share the information from the database, add users. Some are allowed to view the data, others are also allowed to enter and change information. Click on Options menu. First you have to protect the database via the button Protect your database. To do this, you'll need to enter your email address (if you haven't already). Then click in Options menu on the assignment Set your sub-users. You enter the e-mail addresses of the people who will have access to the database. At the same time you decide whether they can view or add and change the records. The third possibility is that they can only access (view, add and change) the records that they enter themselves.

Tip 12: Editing tools

In Design view, you can edit records even further with the various tools found to the left of each record. There are four icons: To process, To display, remove and More options. The first three icons are self-explanatory, but also More options (green plus sign) is an interesting one. Under this item are commands like Copy to clipboard, Print record, Send email, Go to website and View on map. Whether you can use these assignments usefully depends on the information in the record. If the data contains an address or GPS coordinates, you can use View on map to open a Google Maps map in a panel. If the record contains an email address, then the assignment is Send email useful again. So you can also print individual records from here, export them to a CSV file, or copy them to the computer clipboard.


In the Options menu there is also a handy export function to export all or only the found records to csv or txt files. When records contain email addresses, you can even export directly to a mailing list. And for those who still want to print old-fashioned address labels, there is the function Export multiple columns for labels.

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