The first idea about DaDaBIK dates back to 2000 (more than 20 years ago).
I started working and developing Web applications and realized that very often I needed to create CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) Web interfaces for a database. I found it quite annoying to "reinvent the wheel" every time and change my code every time the underlying database schema changed.
So I crated something called ASPDBManager (I think this was the name) using classic ASP (Active Server Pages) and Microsoft Access. You wrote your Access DB schema into a text configuration file and ASPDBManager created the CRUD Web forms to manage this Access Database. If something changed in your DB Schema (e.g. you added a column), you changed your configuration file and the Web application automatically adapts to the new schema. This was the original idea, which, with tons of improvements, have been going on for over 20 years.
I met the PHP world, I developed the core of DaDaBIK
In the same period, I met PHP (and some related technologies) and I was totally fascinated by it. It seems like everything I needed to build a Web application was already there, built into the language. I realized I could build Web applications faster and, above all, have more fun! I started reading everything I found about it - books, articles, tutorials, actively participated to Mailing List and Newsgroups, and went to conferences.
At that time, PHP 3 was still around and there was no built-in support for sessions (!).
I quit ASP and decided that at some point I would have written something similar to ASPDBManager, but much more sophisticated, in PHP, for MySQL databases.
The opportunity to implement a draft for this idea came very early: I had to develop a Web application to manage contacts. I wanted to build something that would have allowed me to add new properties for a contact (e.g. a new address field) without touching my code. I realized later that I wrote the core of DaDaBIK in those days.
V 1.0 Beta released
After a few months, I realized that I created something abstact enought to be used with any database, even by non-programmers and that it would have been useful for other people as well, so in 2001 I released the very first version of DaDaBIK, v. 1.0 beta, as GPL software. I called it DaDaBIK because the main purpose of the software was to create Database Interfaces and because I liked recursive acronyms: DaDaBIK in fact stands for "DaDaBIK is a DataBase Interfaces Kreator".
I still like this name, it's pretty unique, although often people misspell it, calling it DaTaBIK :)
Reactions and first years
DaDaBIK was an instant hit in the PHP community, there were few similar tools at the time and probably nearly all of them worked producing code that became obsolete when database schema was changed. The idea of building a model that would adapt and synchronize to schema changes, basically mirroring the database, was a rather new approach.
Some major organizations (including universities, for-profit, non-profit and government organizations) started to use it to easily build Web front-end to their databases. Thousands of independent developers or even hobbyists downloaded DaDaBIK and created their own simple Web applications. My inbox was suddenly full of DaDaBIK related messages.
In January 2002 I opened a DaDaBIK Web forum, where people could post support request and discuss about DaDaBIK.
For several years, DaDaBIK was free. You could send donations if you wish but it was basically a free program. Only in 2012 I decided to ask for a price to download it, first it was a variable price (the user decided the price, starting from 3 euros) and then I proposed three editions at a fixed price.
I wasn't sure about the reaction of the users (they were used to download it for free) but I was sure it was the right thing to do.
I thought DaDaBIK deserved to be more than a side project and the only way to financially support my work on the project was to charge for licenses. So DaDaBIK became a commercial product but the community of existing users reacted very well, the criticisms have been way less than I thought.
Starting from that moment, I have been able to invest much more time in the development of the product, which has started to improve a lot, publishing a new major release every year / year and a half and adding new major features each time.
Today DaDaBIK is not just a database front-end creator, it's much more, it's a no-code low-code platform that you can use to build complex Web applications based on data.
In case you like to read some more details about the history of DaDaBIK, I wrote an article on Medium:
Lessons learned after 20 years of developing, managing and selling a software product
that might interest you.
Eugenio Tacchini, Ph.D.
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