Before we developed Insight-live.com, Digitalfire introduced an online program called 4Sight Server. This was an attempt to make an online workspace behave as much as possible like Foresight for DOS. But we ran into difficulty with the complexity and decided not to proceed in about 2012, starting over from scratch to produce Insight-live.com. However, this system became our own internal authoring system for the Digitalfire Reference Library and we continue to use it.
This table view of the data was very fast and flexible way to view many records at once. Notes (3) and individual column items (2) could be edited right from this view. Searching could be done on the code number column (1). The active index (6) could be switched (using the tab key) and the order would change immediately. This was a marvelous tool and no equivalent of it is available today. Interestingly, this version is running on a DOS emulator on a Macintosh computer in the middle 90s.
Foresight knew over a thousand materials and each carried much more data than in desktop Insight. This is where we first accumulated the material information data that now resides at insight-live.com. Material chemistry was stored in percentage analysis in contrast to Insight which stored them as formulas. Thus Foresight has a different chemistry calculation engine.
Foresight knew 50 oxides and had a lot of data with each of them. Properties were assigned to oxides. For example, in this screen a Surface Modifier property has been added to BaO explaining how it can be employed to produce matte surfaces. That same modifier was assigned to other oxides and materials. In the properties area it was thus possible to go to matte property and see all the different ways in which a matte could be produced.
This corresponds to the recipe window in Insight-live. This is where you added, edited, searched and deleted recipes as well as entered many different kinds of data associated with them (e.g. for mix tickets, data sheets, change history). It also did chemistry calculations. It was able to order the recipe database in many different ways, a function key brought up a browse (table) view enabling traversal of the list very quickly in the selected order. The information and even the notes could also be edited within browse view.
In this view it was possible to press a function key to pop up a window to enter test results. In that window you could specify the test and specimen and it would provide blanks for all the variables where you could enter the data. Test data already entered displayed in the purple frame and could be edited there. The test results report was also printed from here.
We already had a large library of educational material (the predecessor of the Digitalfire Reference Library). The Foresight product was the fore-runner to insight-live.com today. And it was free like today. And we were warning people about the importance of safe glazes and understanding the "why" questions about the ceramic process.
A database website where potters and ceramic technician account holders enter their recipes, materials, pictures, test procedures, firing schedules, etc.
Tony Hansen is the author of Digitalfire Insight, Digitalfire Reference Library and Insight-Live.com, he is a long-time potter, ceramic lab-technician and body and glaze developer.
A downloadable program for Windows, Mac, Linux for doing classic ceramic glaze chemistry. It has been used around the world since the early 1980s.
1995 Ceramic Technology Article About 4Sight