2.5 out of 5 with 2 ratings

XtraBuild Designer Reviews

Powerful But Poorly Documented

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XtraBuild Designer offers a powerful and somewhat unique approach to building database applications. The basics of creating tables with fields of various data types; creating and laying out forms; creating grids and even designing ribbon bars are all nicely streamlined. Also, contrary to a previous review, the necessary Runtime is FREE and your applications can be distributed along with the runtime, royalty-free (according to the publisher's web site).

One big drawback though, is if you want to get into the more advanced features, such as table relationships where you bind a control on a form to a different table, you will be left to your own ingenuity to figure out how because the program sorely lacks adequate documentation/tutorials. There are video tutorials, but they have no sound and largely consist of demonstrating how to perform the same action over and over. For example, a video will show you how to create table relationships in table editing mode, which involves only three easy steps, but the 8-minute video shows the same steps over and over for several fields, but never gets into how you actually create a control on a form to take advantage of the relationships! Also, some features, such as the 'dashboard' creation feature, have no documentation or tutorials at all. This lack of information is inexcusable and hard to accept, given the power, complexity and hefty price tag of the software.

The program makes use of what it calls 'views', which offer several ways to display, enter and manipulate your data, and this makes it a very powerful program, considering you can implement any of these views without having to write a single line of code whatsoever. However, laying out those views is somewhat limited in that when you place controls, they 'snap' to predefined locations. There is some flexibility, but too much playing around is required to make it happen. On the other hand, there is an array of beautiful skins you can apply to the program and to your applications.

Also missing is the ability of the various windows and dialogs to 'remember' their sizes and positions, so you're constantly moving things out of your way while building forms for example. You can open, for example, the form customizing dialog, and you can move it, resize it and use it to add/modify controls to/on your form. But if you close it and open it again, it opens in its default size and position, which is right in the middle of your screen (the first monitor if you have dual monitors), so you have to move/resize it again...and again and again.

All in all, this is probably one of the most powerful no-coding-necessary database building applications I have run across (and that includes stalwarts like FileMaker and Access). But the aforementioned drawbacks, shortcomings and apparent oversights, though minimal and don't negatively affect the power of the program, make it quite hard to learn, and need to be carefully considered before handing over the amount of cash the publisher wants. Fortunately, there is a fully-functional 30-day trial that will allow you to weigh the powerful pros against the inexcusable cons. The latest version, as of this review, is, so the program does have room to mature...if the programmers are dedicated to the success of the program. But all it really needs is just more and better documentation. It's awesome once you do figure out how to do stuff!


Runtime ruins an otherwise noteworthy software

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The Xtrabuild Designer is intuitive, friendly and productive.
One can actually build a database application in a day or two with proper planning.
The design and output are neat, userinterface is inviting and overall, fantastic.

Applications designed using the Xtrabuild Designer require a separate standalone software, the Xtrabuild Runtime to run. That means, each machine will need its own PAID Xtrabuild software installed to run the applications. There is a free and lite version, but one can say they are crippleware since they restrict the database choices to either Access (which is extra costly and SQLite which has issues with more than 5 concurrent users).

What does it ultimately mean: The applications built using xtrabuild designer are way too costly. Each application installation will cost over 100 USD.

In short, a great software which has promises to even beat Filemaker is not going to be touched by both developers looking to build cheap apps as well as the developers with money who will simply code their apps from scratch instead of using a money fleecing program like Xtrabuild.

Eitherway, Xtrabuild loses. If they were money smart, they would build in compiling into standalone apps capability and charged SDK licenses of over 1500 bucks. And masses will rush to buy them. Small time programmers / developers need a tool like this.

Now, they will be one of many who will have but handful of licensees and die a slow miserable death wondering where they went wrong.