Data File Formats are Open

Stop and think carefully about what product you are going to put your data into. If you need to convert the data later to another format can you?

  • Is the data stored in a proprietary non-text format? (you are locked in!)
  • Is it stored in a text format that is unique to the product? (you need a programmer to convert it to something else)
  • It is stored in a format that limits the amount of notes, the number of oxides in a material, number of materials in a recipe?
  • If it can export to a standard format is the exported data convoluted and tangled and wildly redundant?
  • If it stores data in a database is it relational and are tools easily available to view, maintain, backup and export the data? (relational SQL databases are the key to avoiding redundancy and duplicate data, flexible searching, mirroring the real-world hierarchy of information, security, automatic backup, data capacity, speed, multi-user access).
  • Is the data files well documented in the manual with locations, formats, inter-relationships.

An example of what a competitor says: "xyz recipe files, in fact all of the files associated with xyz can only be opened from the xyz software environment. If you want to see a recipe, then boot xyz and load the recipe. xyz creates its own unique files for recipes, recipe databases, and raw material databases. They can only be viewed and edited from within xyz."
Think seriously about this, open data formats have been the standard among software engineers for 20 years now, do you want a closed one?

You can use text editor to open the data files to examine their format, you need to see logical layout.

Desktop Insight Data Storage

Insight uses XML (with a very logical structure) for file system storage, SQLite for local database storage and MySQL for remote server storage. The SQL schema is fully relational with inter-related tables, it is very efficient and has a logical schema. The database tables use the utf8 character set. Insight supports cloud storage of data so multiple installs on different internet-connected computers can maintain the same recipes and materials data. Insight has a data conversion mechanism (through its online version) that enables importing the data of other programs.

About Understanding Glazes and Materials

Desktop Insight is intended for classic glaze chemistry calculations. It reflects our philosophy that a good glaze is much more than looks, it fits the body and does not craze, shiver, pinhole, blister, crawl, scratch, mark or leach. It is better to develop, understand, control and adjust a few base recipes than be "held hostage" by scores of "traveling" recipes that don\'t work or by consultants and suppliers who are not there when you need them.

Insight is for people who are ready for glaze chemistry, who want answers and are asking "Why?".

It works closely with the Digitalfire Reference Library (also Insight users get preferred access to unsurpassed information about ceramic oxides, materials, processes, trouble shooting, properties, tests, hazards, companies and hundreds of technical articles. This is the internet\'s number one practical traditional ceramics technical information resource and it just keeps growing.

Side-by-Side Recipe Support

The biggest single advantage of Desktop Insight is its independent fully functional side-by-side two-recipe support. It is built from the ground up to facilitate comparison of two recipes and their formulas. This makes the base-recipe-with-adjustments approach to formulation and the chemistry-changes-to-flawed-recipe approaches to troubleshooting very practical. You can combine the two recipe, swap them, use one as a target toward which to move another, do material substitution with greater ease, even compare the same recipe or material using different unity and LOI settings.

Perfect for Education, it is the Standard

  • Discounts are available for schools with ceramic programs and their students, these discounts also apply to site licenses (thus a site license costs only 2.5 times the cost of one Insight program).
  • It is used and taught world-wide and taught in universities and companies. It is the standard.
  • The Insight manual (in Adobe Reader format) has a lessons section that is perfect for step-by-step teaching of the mechanics of using the software and the power of ceramic calculations and how to solve a variety of glaze problems.
  • We have a comprehensive collection of training videos (the lessons in the manual also have matching videos). These can be watched on our website or downloaded.
  • Insight is designed so that the concepts of unity, analysis, formula, mole%, target and unity formula, and LOI are easily demonstrated.
  • Insight links to the Digitalfire Reference Library website creating an ideal research tool for students. This website is the best ceramic materials reference site in the world and provides practical ceramic material and much other related information.
  • Our support material ebooks, website, and program help deal with ceramic problems in a down-to-earth way that consider physics, mineralogy and chemistry.
  • Insight is closely linked with our book "The Magic of Fire", the two are great companions. Magic of Fire is required reading at many university programs.
  • Through its ties with Digitalfire Reference Library Insight supports for the definition of physical tests and maintenance of test result data make it an all around tool to understand and weigh the relative significance of both the chemistry and physics of your ceramic materials and compounds.
  • Since Insight is an international standard you can share your recipe files with other via email.

Desktop Insight Features

  • Insight can run in other languages like Spanish, German, Dutch. Language modules can be downloaded from our website.
  • Insight is focused on classic ceramic calculations.
  • Insight considers oxides as if they were available as powdered materials. That means you can enter a material analysis as a recipe. Although not at first obvious, this ability gives Insight amazing flexibility in ways that become increasingly obvious with experience.
  • Insight\'s has a unique approach to formula to batch calculations: You simply specify an amount of material by the amount of an oxide you need from it rather than by weight. Thus formula-to-batch calculations are very much like batch-to-formula.
  • Insight puts a lot of emphasis on speed and small program size. It keeps material and oxide data in memory so that calculations are lightning-fast (it can calculate both recipes many times in one second).
  • Insight provides tools so you can customize its database of oxides and materials. However it goes much further, the program talks to our Digitalfire Reference Library database to keep you up-to-date and it provides an override system so that you can customize things like material cost and oxide thermal expansion so that these survive material database updates from the web site.
  • Insight supports Database, SQL and File System modes for recipe storage. File system file are written in standard XML format. The SQLite database engine is used for local storage, standard SQL servers for external storage.
  • Insight automatically backs up recipes, you can erase its recipe database and it will be rebuilt automatically.
  • Insight normally stores material data in XML text files but it can also write and read CSV Excel worksheet files and take you directly into Excel at any time to edit and manipulate the data. This offers unsurpassed flexibility in maintaining your materials database.
  • Insight supports attaching up to 9 pictures to each recipe and these are stored safely as files linked-by-name to the parent recipe.
  • Insight runs on Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8, Macintosh and Linux. It is identical on every platform and each can use data from the others. One serial number is good for all.
  • Insight has a template driven report system that can generate HTML reports with links to material and oxide information.
  • Insight provides a large library of process, material, oxide and property research materials.

Has the Best SQL Database

With the advent of, no other product can match the database and group-work capabilities. You can import from a wide range of products and build your data online and work on it using any internet connected device (especially tablets and smartphones). And it can export everything to an Insight compatible SQLite database file.

It Has an OnLine Future Starting Now

Insight is now referred to as "Desktop Insight" because an online version is also available at We are moving steadily in this direction and the online version has many new data management abilities and focuses much more on maintaining data (e.g. for a physical testing program, firing schedules, projects, etc). It also offers group accounts so many people can work together to maintain a common data store.

Insight is Supported

We successfully compete with free and very low priced products. How? Service and commitment. It takes a lot more than a computer program to get control of your glazes. Our customer support is second-to-none, there are hundreds of testimonials on our website from customers happy with our service and product.

  • Insight has been around since 1980, the current version can still read and write the original recipe file format.
  • Our extensive web sites (thousands of pages) keep you up-to-date, Insight is designed to work together with the Digitalfire Reference Library website.
  • New versions of Insight can be downloaded (free) at any time. Demonstration versions can be downloaded by anyone.
  • We update and improve Insight often.
  • We are free with information, our website is very large and it is free to everyone and we put our best into it.
  • Email help is available 7 days a week. We correspond extensively with students all over the world who seek out our site to get help with assignments.
  • New versions and fixes of the software are posted regularly on our site.

It is Our Only Business

Digitalfire Corporation has been developing and marketing Insight worldwide to manufacturing, education, professional, and hobby users for since 1980. We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars developing our concepts. Ceramic related software is our only business. Insight was already well established when the IBM-PC was first introduced.

We Know This Stuff!

Since 1972, Insight\'s main developer, Tony Hansen, has been closely involved in manufacturing, material mining and processing, glaze and body formulation and adjustment, process problem solving, lab testing and quality control, and consulting with thousands of industrial, educational and private clients with an array ceramic problems and challenges.

We wrote the first commercial glaze chemistry software for the Radio Shack Model 1 back in 1979 and have adapted it to 6 operating systems and 9 development languages since then. We have expertise in relational database systems for workstations and web servers; desktop, electronic, graphics and database publishing; web back and front end and design; medium and high level languages for workstation, server and client; computer and telecommunications hardware and networking; palm computer programming and interfacing; and many other types of software and hardware development tools.

At Digitalfire we know how to configure and run powerful web and application servers and make state-of-the-art websites (we can make ebay or amazon type sites). The future of computing is on the internet and Insight will migrate in its ability to talk to the net and eventually actually running on the internet. We wrote, own and operate cutting edge ecommerce, search engine and database servers and have done so since the birth of the public internet in the mid 90s. We understand internet security and have built a knowledge that we will use to find new ways to make ceramic materials, physics, and chemistry information freely available.

We Have Connections and Information

Since 1996 we have been using the Internet to accumulate a database of ceramic related companies and individuals around the world along with their interests, expertises and relationships related to ceramic technology (not marketing). We believe that no one in the world has more contacts at all levels than we do. Our site does much of this automatically now (e.g. people can update their profiles themselves). This database is second-to-none, we do not share it (unless contributors agree otherwise).