Blist: Interactive Databases for the Mainstream

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Blist, which was introduced at the DEMO conference and announced yesterday a $6.5 million round of funding, is a new startup based out of Seattle that wants to bring interactive and spreadsheet-like databases to the mainstream. Founded by former Microsoft executive, the startup recently opened to public beta — you can sign up here.

In a Flash-based interface that reminds you very much of BuzzWord, acquired by Adobe last year, the tool presents you with a very software-like feel in a spreadsheet layout. You can choose to import a “blist” through a .CSV file, or build one of your own from scratch, where the tool shines.

Apart from the File/Edit menu and the filing system, there is a “Add Column” box on the right-handside which lets you insert all kinds of dynamic elements into your blist. You can insert a “blist-in-a-blist”, text, number, date, photo, money, phone number, checkbox, starring system, flagging system, URL, e-mail, and list — among others. These items can all be dynamic and gathered from a range of sources, and technically speaking, are recognized as a “Column” in your database.

As everyone knows, however, spreadsheets are so PC revolution 1.0. While it is its default view, where Blist shines is that it lets you see your data in various different views and modes, including a Page, Calendar, Chart, or Report. The views are dynamic and give you a far better idea of your data than any regular spreadsheet or Excel chart would.

Of course, creating is one aspect, but Blist also has built in and easy sharing/collaborating mechanisms. For example, within seconds, you can e-mail your blist to any recepient. Each Blist also has a “discussions” and “reviews” section, so all your and your colleagues commenting and reviewing of the blist stay on the blist, and not lost e-mails.

If I didn’t say Blist is clearly among the coolest Flash-based tools, and even beyond, I’d be leaving something out. The interface is amazing and their target market for mainstream consumers is admirable. While the average person might still be used to, and prefer, Excel — due to its standardness and familiarity — where Blist shines is for data that requires dynamic input fields and visual representations, and for the early adopters and forward-thinkers, it’s a complete no-brainer to try. Embedded below is their DEMO presentation.


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