JULY 26, 2005 ADDENDUM. A couple customers have further inquired as to why we haven't opened up the SOHO Notes database to outside access via tools such as the OpenBase Manager. The below list represents our current reasons for not making it publicly accessible at this time:
1) The database schema is currently undergoing some pretty major changes for the SOHO Series line of products. Some of these products are unreleased so we can't open the schema. Until the schema stabilizes, it doesn't make sense to make a moving target public. It would be frustrating for all involved.
2) The schema does not yet have any public documentation which poses significant integrity concerns. There are quite a few subtle yet important intricacies and details in the schema that would need to be documented or a database could be screwed up really badly even by a database expert that thinks they know what they're doing. This is not a function of poor database design. There's simply more to a database than meets they eye: cascading deletes/updates, expected values for certain columns, relationship complexities not apparent from the schema itself, performance related design tactics, etc.
3) The schema does not yet have any public documentation which poses significant support concerns. When it comes to database schemas or Applescript dictionaries, many companies have opened them up to the public with the disclaimer that the company will not provide any support or guidance to end users. They basically say, 'you're on your own'. We're certain our customers would not tolerate such an approach and that we would start receiving many questions regarding the schema in spite of such a disclaimer. We're therefore unwilling to make the schema public until it can be fully documented. Even if only a few end-users are using the schema, we think the lack of documentation will take too much time away in terms of support from the software engineers we need developing our software.
4) Chronos is not prepared to handle support issues caused by outside access to the database. In addition to questions about how the database schema works, we anticipate that people will invariably corrupt the data in the database using tools other than SOHO Notes and then come to Chronos for help. This level of 'developer-type' support is simply beyond what Chronos is currently capable of providing. While it's easy to say that if someone screws up their database then it's their fault and they're on their own, the reality is something different. First, users will still come to Chronos for help because they might have no where else to turn. If we turn them away, then we'll be the bad guys in spite of what people agree to before they have problems. Second, we know from experience and other associates in the industry that some people will hide or deny the fact they were using a third-party tool on the database and blame the problem directly on Chronos. Our engineers will then spend hours repairing the database and trying to find the cause of the problem in a futile effort. Again, we currently need our engineers working on our software, not supporting third party database access.
In conclusion, we believe the above reasons are real and valid reasons for not yet opening up our database to outside access. Further, we believe we reserve the right to not open up outside access until we are ready to properly support such action. As resources become available, we hope to overcome the hurdles presented in the above reasons. It is, in fact, our goal to have outside access to the databases when we can do it right. Until then, we think it would be chaotic and unpleasant for all involved. Thanks for your interest in our products. We hope this FAQ helps you better understand and appreciate our position on this matter.