MoStacks is a data management freeware (a "database") for the Symbian UIQ3 smartphones inspired by Apple's then-revolutionary HyperCard program. It has many features in common with traditional database applications, but goes beyond them in several respects.
Instead of databases and records MoStacks works with stacks of cards: Data is stored in a MoStack, a file with a format based on a four-level hierarchy of stack, backgrounds, cards and fields.
The Mo in MoStacks stands for mobile: The application has the ambition to be the first that brings HyperCard-like data management to mobile phones, starting with Symbian/UIQ3 smartphones, i.e. the SonyEricsson P1i, P990i and similar UIQ3 models. (Read more about the history of the project here, and about plans for the future here.)
Those phones with their relatively large touchscreens are well suited for viewing data, but for setting up a database, entering large amounts of data and importing them a PC is a much better tool. (More about this stack development "philosophy".) That's why MoStacks consists of two programs, the MoStacks Development System running on Windows and the MoStacks Manager running on UIQ3. There is support for easy and fast transfers of stacks between PC and phone.
A special card design philosophy allows stacks to adapt to different screen sizes, which will become important on future phone models with larger screens.
MoStacks offers a script language, again inspired by HyperCard's HyperTalk language. While only implementing a subset of HyperTalk so far, it already allows to add considerable "intelligence" to stacks.
MoStacks supports a number of import and export formats. Most notably there is a powerful CSV importer and the ability to directly import most HanDBase files.
MoStacks is neither a web server nor a true wiki engine, but it nevertheless offers WikiText features like links, paragraphs and text formatting in special wiki fields.
Multimedia support so far is limited to pictures, but the basic architecture is well prepared to deal with sound and movies as well in the future. MoStacks also offers basic Unicode support and can deal with data in scripts like Cyrillic, Chinese or Japanese.
The current release of MoStacks is reasonably stable, and chances are good that you can configure and use a database without encountering a bug, neither with the Windows nor with the Symbian program.
However, MoStacks is not "finished" in any sense. Most importantly some regions of functionality are not yet fully documented, e.g. the script language. Furthermore a number of functions are still missing.
You could therefore call the current MoStacks release a beta version, but that would not quite fit the traditional use of the term "beta" for a program that is essentially feature-complete but still has bugs and rough edges.
That's why this release is called experimental.
If you decide to accept the invitation and "experiment" with MoStacks, you can expect a program that is probably stable and bug-free enough for productive use, if the stack structure is not too complicated, and the number of cards not too high.
However, if you push the program to its limits you will probably run into bugs. The myriad of possible stack configurations that are possible based on the considerable number of features leave a lot of room for bugs to hide. (This must be a general problem for programs that are not straight applications for a single purpose, but something like "platforms".)
If you do run into a bug, there is some probability that you will loose a stack by corruption, with a stack file that has a "corrupted", invalid structure and cannot be opened anymore. To protect against this danger somewhat, MoStacks on Symbian writes backup files.
· Symbian UIQ3
What's New in This Release: [ read full changelog ]
· There is a command history allowing to repeat commands quickly and easily.
· There is a mechanism called Values that can help to speed up data entry.
· There is a way to bring up a list of the names of all fields and controls of the current card, also allowing access to the longer field descriptions - a feature that helps to make stacks self-documenting.
· Stack editing on the phone got better: You can change now many more stack, background and field features than before directly on the UIQ3 device itself, without a need for a "roundtrip" of the stack to the Windows program and back. See the (unfortunately not yet fully documented) dialogs for stack, background, and field info as well as some new commands.
· The Start View has new columns showing the date and time of the last stack modifications.
· The color for links in wiki text fields was changed from bright green to dark green; the bright green links were hard to read with certain UIQ3 themes. (For the future, a configurable link color is planned.)
· There are two new messages exitField and closeField for scripting, described here, that e.g. allow sophisticated value checks right after input.
· Whole and real number fields have now two "mini buttons" to the left that make number entry more easy.
· There are two new stack flags Open in full screen mode? and Open in landscape mode? (which only now make the two modes present since 0.93 really useful, because manually switching again and again for a stack that needs a certain mode becomes tiresome quickly!)
· There are a number of special wiki "links" that allow you to specify links that dial phone numbers, start a new SMS, open a site in the WWW browser, and more.
· The send statement, described here, is quite simple, but basically introduces procedures/subroutines into scripting and therefore increases its power.
· The Dial field command is implemented now, connecting MoStacks with telephony and allowing stacks that complement Symbian "Contacts".
· The windows program can now, like the UIQ3 program, export stack content as an XML file.