You can now build powerful and sharable databases online for free thanks to websites like Zoho.
Zoho DB & Reports offers the best “Free” online database service, hands down. It is extremely easy to create your own database and the performance is impressive. The databases run rather quickly which was a pleasant surprise. There doesn’t appear to be any limits in place for the number of databases you can create for free nor how large they can grow so I do not know how many records a Zoho database can contain. You can share any database with anyone you want by simply adding their email address and sending them a link. They don’t even have to join zoho to view the database which is a nice change of pace from other services. Another excellent feature is the ability to embed any database or view on your website. Here is a example of a database called The Zone where I have every Twilight Zone episode along with other information. You can share databases with individuals, make them public or keep them private.
Here’s an excellent Zoho DB & Reports screencast
Zoho Creator is another database creation service they offer but don’t get them confused. While they describe it as a Database Application builder, it does a lot more than that. Zoho Creator is a lot more complex than Zoho DB so it will not be as easy to use straight out of the gate. It offers an excellent interface builder for creating customized forms for your database application. They now even offer the ability to build database applications for the mobile platform and have their own API for those interested in building more complex databases.
There are many online database solutions, but not that many free ones. Zoho is clearly the best of breed in this class. Now, some will ask “Why do I even need a database online when I can simply store or share a document or spreadsheet online? Well, there are many reasons, one of which is the ability to enter data one time and generate countless view of that data to present it in different views. Yes, there are many situations where a spreadsheet will be the best method of storing data online, but there are also many situations when data is best kept in an online database, especially if the information can be viewed in many different ways. Ultimately, the choice will be your’s. Thanks to companies like Zoho, we now have that option. 🙂