The Internet may be all about sharing, but for the most part it's a text- and graphics-oriented place. This can make distributing other forms of information, especially database-driven data, awkward at best. Bitlocker (www.bitlocker.com), a free online database development and storage service, helps fill this gap. By enabling Bitlocker databases to be "embedded" into other Web pages, the service saves you from having to publish database information yourself. Now, using Bitlocker, you can just add a link to the information or form wherever you need it.
After filling out a short form and agreeing to the company's legal statement, you can start using your Bitlocker account immediately. (You'll need a cookie-enabled browser.) You can create a database using a blank template or one of several predefined models. Some of the predefined forms are frivolous, although useful contact-manager, product-registration, and user-feedback forms are available.
Using Bitlocker is similar to using most database programs. Each field can be defined with a name, optional description, and type (such as text, URL, or numeric). Value lists can be entered as fields and can be assigned a default entry. Bitlocker also lets you upload pre-existing databases—a considerable time-saver—but data structures have to be identical, or the data will be placed in the wrong fields.
Bitlocker databases can be shared with a workgroup, although each member must have an account with the company. You can also limit access to your database, giving some users but not others permission to add, change, or delete records.
Although you can view the databases as either cards (records) or tables, you can't customize the forms themselves. As in any database, records can be sorted by field. But complex data relationships, computational capacity, and exotic searches are not available—this is strictly a flat-file, dead- simple structure. However, you can download databases and locally tweak the data.
Nonpaying members receive 25MB of storage and 24/7 access to the service. For $100 a year, you can have up to 100MB of space, eliminate banner ads, and get your customer-support questions answered within eight hours. If hard drive space is tight or you want to share information with colleagues or friends, Bitlocker is an innovative solution.
Rating: Three Stars
Palo Alto, CA
Requires: Internet access
Price: Free; $100/year for expanded service