DBease: Making Databases User-friendly and Easily Accessible
DBease is a research project of database group, department of computer science,
Tsinghua University. It focuses on providing user-friendly interfaces for accessing and search databases and making databases user-friendly and easily accessible. "DBease" stands for
making DataBase user-friendly and easily accessible.
Structured query language (SQL) is a classical way to query relational databases. Although SQL is powerful to query relational databases, it is rather hard for inexperienced users to pose SQL queries, as they are required to be familiar with SQL syntax and have a thorough understanding of the underlying schema. To provide an alternative search paradigm, keyword search and form-based search are proposed, which only need users to type in keywords in single or multiple input boxes and return answers after a user submits a complete query. However users often feel "left in the dark" when they have limited knowledge about the underlying data, and have to use a try-and-see approach for finding information. A recent trend of supporting autocomplete in these systems is a first step towards solving this problem. In this paper, we propose a new search method DBease to make databases user-friendly and easily accessible. DBease allows users to explore the underlying data ``on the fly'' as they type in keywords, even in the presence of minor errors. DBease has the following unique features. Firstly, DBease can find relevant answers as users type in keywords in single or multiple input boxes. Secondly, DBease can tolerate errors and inconsistencies between query keywords and the underlying data. Thirdly, DBease can suggest SQL queries based on limited keywords. We study research challenges in this framework for large amounts of data. We have deployed several real prototypes, which have been used regularly and well accepted by users due to its friendly interface and high efficiency.