Blist Seeks Mainstream Database Audience

    January 28, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Building database sources and constructing queries intimidate the typical Internet user. Blist founder and CEO Kevin Merritt believes databases should serve people, instead of the other way around.

The private beta of Blist kicks off on January 29th, as a first step in determining whether Merritt’s database service will find a niche among the online audience. He chatted with WebProNews ahead of the company’s debut during the DEMO conference in Palm Desert, California.
Blist Seeks Mainstream Database Audience

He cited how people start with a spreadsheet, usually Excel, in establishing a table of data. Over time, those tables grow, driving a need for a product to manage the data better.

Though Microsoft Access looks to be the likely upgrade path, and Microsoft would certainly hope so, Merritt said that migration gets complex. People give up and go back to Excel, no matter how clunky the tables and sheets become.

Merritt finds other solutions, like Dabble DB and Zoho, aimed at an audience of programmers and DBAs, people who don’t need a simpler approach to creating a database. List management products aren’t up to the challenge of complex data, either.

That brings us back to Blist, for which Merritt took us through a demonstration. Visually, Blist compares favorably with Buzzword, the online word processor Adobe purchased.

Merritt said Blist will help build a “community around data.” Blist has tools for creating and sharing data. Its tools include drag and drop datatypes, and enables people to have multiple entries per cell.

A neat visual query builder lets the user drag a column of a database to create a quick filter. The builder includes the ability to make and save nested queries. Someone can craft logic in short order with the tool.

That builder and other facets of Blist include visual hints to users, letting them know how they can interact with parts of Blist in certain contexts. Eventually, users will be able to widgetize what they create with the service and publish the data they placed in Blist.

Merritt said the Blist team has former Microsoft and people on board. We asked if something like database reporting tool Crystal Reports had some influence on Blist, but Merritt said they worked at making the service a unique product from the ground up.

Blist will start as a consumer version, with a premium edition for the SMB market planned for a later release.