RoamBI for iPhone, not just good, groundbreaking!

* RoamBI is a spreadsheet display tool for the iPhone

In my career working in the computer world there have been a few products that have stood out as groundbreaking and important. Some were outstanding in their time but their relevance has long since disappeared, for example, Digital Microsystems HiNet, while others, such as Novell's Netware Directory Services, now called eDirectory, (which should have become the leading network directory service but got its lunch eaten by Microsoft's Active Directory) still has relevance and applicability.

Now I'm not about to make any guesses about the potential longevity of the product I'm focusing on RoamBI, published by MeLLmo, but I have no doubts about its groundbreaking qualities and its importance.

RoamBI is a spreadsheet display tool for the iPhone that makes the process of publishing your data painless and creates a dynamic presentation on the iPhone that is simply gorgeous.

RoamBI provides pie charts, a list view, a card index view, and a catalyst view (that's a list with sparkline charts for each line item) and every presentation supports drill-down and the ability for the user to select what is displayed. Better still, all of these features are enhanced by the iPhone user interface so, for example, clicking on a pie chart segment causes the pie chart to rotate and display the associated data.

It would be a disservice to try to explain the subtleties of the RoamBI iPhone user interface – it is stunningly slick and a great example of how to build a truly usable user interface.

MeLLmo was founded by some of the original team that created one of my favorite products, Xcelsius. I've written extensively about Xcelsius and it is one of the select few up there in my "groundbreaking and important" category but sadly one that is moving into my "could disappear if they don't get their act together" category (the current owner, SAP, is surprisingly negligent with improving this product on "minor" issues such stability and documentation).

What the chaps at MeLLmo have done is to capitalize on their experience with Xcelsius by adapting their insights into Excel, how people build spreadsheets, and how to effectively display data and taken all of that to the iPhone.

RoamBI allows you to import either an Excel spreadsheet by uploading (there appears, as of the time of writing, to be a problem with uploading to their servers using Firefox but MSIE works fine) or data from Salesforce and then very simply and elegantly through the online RoamBI Flash-based Publisher configure how and what is to be displayed.

Note that the data displayed on the iPhone isn't "active" in that it is derived from the data calculated in the Excel spreadsheet at upload time. To update the data you need to refresh the RoamBI upload through the RoamBI Web interface. The RoamBI Web site also includes a simulation of the iPhone interface so you can test your presentations before publishing.

Roambi for iPhone is available as a free download in the iTunes App Store and likewise online Roambi Publisher is also free. MeLLmo plans to offer premium services and an enterprise version is in the works.

Hats off to the guys at MeLLmo, they've created a groundbreaking product for a second time.

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RoamBi offers a new look at data on the iPhone

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