I’ve been using the askSam database software for 17 years, and this year my wife bought me an upgrade to the latest version for Christmas, and I’ve been playing with some of the new features.
If you are doing any kind of research, askSam is one of the best tools for keeping your notes and documents in order. It’s a freeform text database that lets you find anything you put into it, and also allows you to have fixed fields for sorting.
I started using it when I persuaded the university departments I was working in to use it for journal abstracts and a terminology database. I’d read reviews of it in computer magazines, and it sounded as though it would be one of the best tools for the job. It was.
Back then it was the DOS version.
It was easy to get started using it — you simply tossed information in and it would fish it out again. But to get the best out of it required quite a lot of learning, and to learn to use it I tried it out on different kinds of applications — making notes from books, genealogical research, keeping track of correspondence, keeping a log of various activities. For all of these things, it worked very well.
Back then we also used the XyWrite word processor, and XyWrite’s formatting was done using codes similar to HTML markup, so it was easy to produce askSam reports that were fully-formatted XyWrite documents. Reports could be imported into e-mail for sharing information. It worked just as well for exporting data to web pages.
For a long time I resisted the Windows version, but the new version has several features that older ones did not. One of them is the ability to import, link to and attach documents. So you can use it to keep track of word processor documents, PDF files and the like. It handles MS Word documents, pdf files (text only) and RTF files as well. It is somewhat limited in not handling Open Office files, for example, though those can be exported to rtf of pdf format.
If you do any kind of research, especially in the humanities, and want to keep your research notes in order, I definitely recommend askSam. I’ve found it useful for genealogy research, theological research and articles (keeping notes for my MTh dissertation and DTh thesis) and much more.
If this sounds like the sort of program you could use, you can read more about it (and download a 30-day trial version) at the askSam web site.