Are you looking for an easy way to organize your research data in a database without worrying about data loss? Do you want to build logical relationships between your data but don’t want to delve into programming languages? Then Baserow might offer the solution you need!
Why build your database in Baserow
Baserow makes it possible to create an online database without any technical experience. It has the look and feel of an excel spreadsheet so it is very intuitive to navigate. However, it goes beyond a mere spreadsheet as it offers database capabilities allowing you to organize and analyze your data in a relational way. Just as any other relational database, it allows you to link fields (or columns to use spreadsheet jargon) over different tables ensuring data consistency and lets you choose from different types of predefined fields making it possible to easily store and structure various types of data (e.g. images, dates, checkboxes, etc.). Moreover, Baserow is very collaborative: you can easily work together in real-time, with every change immediately visible to all.
Important to mention as well is that the servers of Baserow are stored in Europe (Amsterdam), meaning that it can be GDPR compliant and may be appropriate to store personal data. (Before storing personal data on any new tool, submit an amendment to your existing PRET dossier).
How to get started
On the Baserow website there is a lot of information available that will make you familiar with the platform. You can find everything you need to know to get started here, and this blog post guides you through the process also.
Baserow is still very new but is developing rapidly, with new features being released constantly. So if you notice that there is still a feature missing, chances are high that Baserow is already developing it. You can also browse the forum to check out which feature requests are in the pipeline. The forum is also a great way to ask a question or submit your own request, I can say from personal experience that the Baserow team will get back to you very quickly!
Apart from the forum, Baserow also maintains a nice blog where you can find an overview of the latest updates and interesting articles, e.g. about database use in general such as whether you should choose a spreadsheet or database for you next project or which alternatives to excel are out there.
And the good news is, you can use the hosted version on the Baserow website completely for free! The free plan should be sufficient if you are looking to build a simple database. In case you would need more advanced features or more data storage, you can go for their premium or advanced plan (see pricing information).
Some interesting features highlighted
Since I personally use Baserow quite a lot, I wanted to highlight some good-to-know features (obviously this is in no way an extensive overview of all that Baserow has to offer):
- Views: Baserow allows you to create different views of a table. This way, you can look at your data in multiple ways which might lead to new perspectives. In the free plan you have three options: the grid view (basically like a spreadsheet), the gallery view (which organizes your data in cards), or as a form (that is automatically created based on your data and can then be customized further).
- Sharing: you can share the view of one of your tables more broadly, either by creating a shareable link or embedding your table in e.g. a website. This way, others will be able to consult your data, without the fear of them messing anything up as they won’t have any editing rights.
- Snapshots: thanks to the snapshot feature you can make a full copy of your database. This way you could restore your database to that point in time later and you are protected against accidental loss.
I should also mention one downside: when you use the hosted web version you can only access Baserow through your browser, there is no desktop app available.
Even though Baserow is still in its early stages, it is already very promising and really accessible, even when you have never built a database before. Try it out and see for yourself!