Ragic Makes Databases as Simple to Use as Spreadsheets

Most people are familiar with spreadsheets as a way to organise their data into a way that is easily read and is simple to use. However, due to their relative simplicity and ubiquitous nature, they are often seen as the do all data storage platform. This leads to over-sized and over-complex, linked spreadsheets that are very fragile and hard to work with.

I’m sure you have all seen it: the spreadsheet abyss that is tucked deep into your office network. You know, where all the spreadsheets are linked and only one person knows which bits you can edit to get the results you need and which bits if changed by one decimal point will ruin all of the sheets and linked calculations.

So, the obvious solution is a database. The way that databases are designed allows for separated data, layered processing above it to calculate anything that you need, and best of all, they are robust (if implemented correctly) and scale well. “But,” I hear you say, “I don’t know how to design or implement a database!” This is where Ragic! comes in.

The premise behind Ragic! is that you can use an interface that resembles a spreadsheet to create a fully functional relational database with as many tables and forms as you need to get the job done with minimal effort and no programming.

Ragic Design Mode

The Ui is clean and easy to navigate

The application does very well with its target of making databases accessible. Database applications are renowned for being all about function with very little regard for form, Ragic steers away from this paradigm, and to good effect:The UI and layout is much more akin to a web 2.0 application. It is quite reminiscent of Gwail with its colour scheme and layout, and this is a good thing. GMail is clean and simple to use so it’s a great choice for inspiration.

The Application

Interactive tutorials are provided to allow you see how the system works and they teach you a good deal of the skills required to make a project work in Ragic!. The tutorials run you through creating forms (where data is entered) and also tables (where data is stored). With these tools you are set up to start experimenting with your own requirements in mind and learn the system in more depth.

The interactive side to the tutorials is very well done, each step is highlighted and detailed in a popup tool-tip so you can see where you need to go next and what you need to do. It takes about 1 minute to create a basic form and table pairing that holds clients’ details by running through the tutorial, which is not bad.

Interactive Tutorial

The interactive tutorials teach you all you need to know to get started.

Users can be created that allow you to set permissions for each person individually. You can also send a link to your forms to allow the rest of your team to enter data into them as well, but only in the predefined way that you have set up, this is a really important point.

As well as the interactive tutorials that guide you through the initial stages of the development of your database there are also vido tutorials which carry on from there and show you other features and ways of doing things.

More Complex Actions

It’s all very well creating a single sheet (of course, you actually could use Excel for that), but where Ragic! really starts to ahem, excel, is when you start to create other forms for your sub tables and linked tables. These are how you can create an entire system that is really easy to use, add data to, and get data from.

Autogenerate

You can add calculations or auto generations to your fields.

You will also be able to add formula to fields or cells, much as you would in Excel, this means that as you enter data into the table those fields will automatically be calculated for you. This works very well, and you can use similar functions to Excel in that you can choose to have a sum of the data, or perform any other calculation.

Reports

This is likely the standout feature of Ragic that will make you want to try it. The report functionality allows you to analyse the data that is held in your database. There are different types of reports which allow you to present the data in the best way for that specific type of data.

Ragic Pivot Reports

Pivot tables allow you to analyse your data

You can create pivot tables which you can alter to represent the data that you want to see, choosing different fields and sets to show in the table. You can also use the reports tool to show charts of your data such as changes over time, or numbers of entries for any given category. this is a great tool and really allows you to gain insight into your database. This would be especially useful if you use this as a stock management tool, or for sales monitoring.

What Could be Improved?

I did notice some inconsistencies in a couple of places. I created a report and the link to it was in a language, perhaps Chinese, which I couldn’t read. There were a couple of occasions when I added a drop down with options that could be chosen and when I went to the form the dropdown was not populated properly and didn’t show any options for the user to choose. I reported it to support so I’m sure it will be fixed in due course.

Conclusion

A very handy application that really does allow database creation with minimum effort as it says. The created product is far more robust than a collection of Excel sheets and allows a lot more flexibility to create a bespoke solution for you company or yourself, as well as a lot more power in terms of reporting and flexibility in the way it’s used.

The developers of Ragic have taken a lot of time to make it appear as an excel spreadsheet to make it more accessible to those who would not even contemplate using a database creation tool before, and for that i applaud them, it works very well.

The free plan allows you to create a simple database of one sheet with up to 1000 entries. This might be enough for simple applications, such as a list of clients and their details spread over a couple of tables, but generally you will need a more complete plans. These can be had from $5/user/month up to $65/user/month. You can also get an onsite install which you manage yourself.


Summary

A very useful tool for database creation that has done a great job of making a complex task more accessible to less technically minded folk, but have not lost any of the inherant power of a database as a tool. A couple of bugs remain, but are not deal breakers.

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  • Since writing this review a very friendly chap from Ragic has been in touch with me and has assured me that the language issue is being looked at. I have been back to the dropdown box that wasn’t working and it is now working as well, I’m unsure of the reason for this, but pleased that it is fixed.

    The communications from Ragic have always been personal and genuine, and I applaud them for this.

    Thanks for reading,

    Chris.