Revamped AskSam Supports E-Mail,
Version 5.1 has new search,
Lincoln Spector, special to PCWorld.com
Friday, February 21, 2003
An update of askSam Systems' database, which
can handle both structured data and freeform information, became
available this week, with improvements to its e-mail support and the
capability--for an extra fee--to organize material pulled off Web
Version 5.1 of askSam is available for download.
The Standard edition lists for $150. The Professional edition, which
adds indexing for faster searches on large databases and Visual
Basic support to customize applications, lists for $395. Upgrading
from 5.0 to 5.1 is free of charge.
The askSam database program's claimed
differentiator is its support for both the structured data of a
conventional database, which might involve specific fields, and
unstructured information that isn't easily organized. Data comes in
many forms, or in no form at all, and askSam was designed to handle
You can use the application to create a
structured database with clearly defined fields, such as name or
address. But you can also store complete documents in an askSam
database without worrying about their structure, you can create
hyperlinks to connect pieces of otherwise separate information.
The previous update, askSam 5.0, added e-mail
support. It lets you import messages--with or without
attachments--into its databases. But while you could search for
specific text within the contents of these messages, you couldn't
search in the attachments within those messages.
Version 5.1 enhances those e-mail functions,
and adds other features.
New in the Update
Now, with version 5.1, you can search both
e-mail messages and their attachments--if the attachments are in
Word, HTML, PDF, WordPerfect, RTF, or plain text formats. But askSam
still can't find a phrase inside, for example, an Excel spreadsheet
within an e-mail message within a database.
The program also now supports IMAP as well as
POP e-mail systems--a big convenience if your office uses Outlook
for its internal e-mail system.
A new Web-related option is available in
version 5.1. Ever try to bring information from a Web page into a
structured database? It involves a lot of tiresome cutting and
pasting. To make this sort of job easier, askSam is selling an $89
version of Crystal Software's TextPipe Pro as an add-in to askSam
5.1 (it won't work with earlier versions).
TextPipe Pro lets you create filters that
organize data so it can be easily placed into the appropriate fields
in an askSam database. This should be especially useful with Web
pages where the data changes but the form stays the same, such as
the results of a PC World Product Finder search. Representatives of
askSam Systems say the company plans to eventually have a collection
of free filters available on its Web site.
Among the free programs now posted by askSam
Systems is the askSam Viewer. Modeled after Adobe's Acrobat Reader,
it will allow anyone with a Windows PC to view and search an askSam