By Jeff Angus Data, like life, comes in structured and unstructured incarnations. Logically, data storage should, too, and AskSam is the rare database that handles both gracefully. I examined a preproduction copy of the new AskSam 5.
AskSam allows you to store complete documents in their original form rather than requiring you to chop them up and distribute their contents into individual fields. Though you can edit individual records just as if you were using a word processor, you get the added benefit of powerful search-and-retrieval tools, as well as the ability to connect information in different documents by creating hyperlinks.
With AskSam 5 you can relate information by attaching a document to a record, just as you would to an e-mail message. You also get more import abilities with this version: You now can import PDF files and messages (with or without attachments) from e-mail clients such as Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, as well as Qualcomm's Eudora. Each imported message, which you can bring into the database using the File menu's Import Email command, becomes one database record.
Organizations that need to store knowledge data (sales, design, competitive intelligence, and research groups) will find that AskSam 5's new hyperlinks to external files are extremely valuable for managing database size and for sharing ever-changing files over a network. Such groups will also appreciate the software's ability to save and share search-process descriptions, which improves the speed and the accuracy of recurrent searches that use the same criteria--say, for sales-figure updates.
In short, AskSam 5 database software enables users and workgroups that need to share unstructured information (as well as forms) to think and produce in new ways. From the September 2002 issue of PC World magazine