If your idea of a freeform database is an enormous Word document listing names, phone numbers and email addresses, then it’s time to meet AskSam. We recently tested version 6.0 and long-time users of this venerable application, will find plenty to like - although first-timers will face a slight initial learning curve.
AskSam is a sophisticated organiser that lets you drop just about anything into a database, and then easily find it later. Files can hold up to 16 terabytes of data. Its freeform structure means you don’t have to parse a file’s contents and re-enter information into traditional fields. Instead, it imports into fully searchable fields most document formats: text files, emails, PDFs, instant messaging transcripts and even web pages. It also accepts numerous database files, including dBase, FoxPro, Access, Paradox and delimited text.
We started by importing a large Word file into AskSam 6.0 Professional. Its ability to retain the document’s appearance impressed us. Our file remained familiar, editable and searchable.
Along with a fresh interface, version 6.0 adds folder-management tools that group records by any field. Also new is the ability to import messages from PocoMail - Eudora, Netscape, Outlook and Outlook Express were already compatible.
AskSam comes with dozens of templates, including addresses, recipes, wine lists and film times. Our favourites are templates that let you import, annotate and organise web pages. Just make sure you close the database while you surf: it causes Internet Explorer to crash. AskSam says this will be patched.