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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Applications > What do people use for light DBs today

What do people use for light DBs today
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Sep 12, 2013, 03:57 PM
 
I've clung to AppleWorks since I'm still on PPC, so it functions properly. But when the new DarthPro comes out, prices should drop on current-gen MacPros, and I'll finally upgrade.

iWork has grown to include all commonly-used 'works modules, except a database. Presumably to avoid competing with FileMaker. But I use light database files all the time, for work records, video and book library files, and assorted other convenient records uses.

I've considered LibreOffice, OpenOffice before that, and simply waiting for Apple to release an iWork DB module. M$ office can go to Mars with the one-way volunteers. Time is running out, the new MacPro could ship any week now. It's looking like I'll have to learn LibreOffice. But it doesn't have perfect UI integration, and seems overweight to replace one missing 'works module.

How have other people solved their DB needs? Sold soul to M$ office, given up DBs, shelled out $500 for FileMaker, gotten sheepshaver to work and kept using AW?
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 03:21 AM
 
I think people used to use Bento, but Filemaker is killing that off. At work, I use MS Excel for things that probably belong in a database - you can get quite far with some clever use of Pivot tables and that data management functions.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 04:05 AM
 
Why the upgrade to AppleWorks? ClarisWorks not good enough for you?
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 12:03 PM
 
Bento is FREAKING TERRIBLE. I got a free copy when I worked at Apple, so I gave it a shot. It's ridiculously limited, it's not a real SQL database, etc etc.

What kind of use cases are you looking at for a local database solution? That makes a big difference in recommending what you should use...
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 12:56 PM
 
Use the Cloud Luke.
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 02:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
At work, I use MS Excel for things that probably belong in a database - you can get quite far with some clever use of Pivot tables and that data management functions.
This.

If Excel, doesn't cut it for "Light DB", then Bento is the weapon of choice.

-t
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 02:53 PM
 
Bento might work. I'm looking for a DB app like the DB modules included with the various -works packages in the past. AppleWorks, MSworks, etc. A little formula support, good GUI integration, not much more. It doesn't need command-line access.

Something where you can just open a new file, define fields, play with formatting, and type stuff in. Without paying a fortune, or launching a 500+MB app each time you want to enter or find a record. A DB module that would be a worthy companion to TextEdit might even be enough.
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 04:24 PM
 
The problem I really ran into with Bento is that it is very limited. It's not even remotely like a relational database - it's essentially a spreadsheet application with different views of the same data - table, grid, or form.

And keep in mind that with regular, traditional spreadsheets, you can easily import them into a real database later down the line.

Have you thought about using an online service instead?

Also, check out this thread:

PSA: Bento will lose your data after two years. Design limitation - Ars Technica OpenForum

Bento apparently handles dates pretty arbitrarily - anything before 2008 just disappears into the ether, so if you're working with legacy records, you're screwed.

You could also use MySQL with a nice graphical frontend like Valentina Studio, which is free. If you want to go lighter than that, you could use this SQLite frontend.

To be quite honest I'd stay away from Bento. It's a proprietary format, so once you start using it you're SOL if you want to switch to a different application (other than upgrading to Filemaker, obviously).

As an aside, I really haven't found anything as good as Access for local, simple databases. I used it pretty extensively at my last job, and it really did everything I needed it to do.
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 11:14 PM
 
Filemaker rocks, worth every penny. I have used it since v1 of the Mac version. And FMP is truly cross-platform capable.

Forget using the included templates however. The FMP engineers make great DB but do not get the real world, which IMO is why Bento flopped. Just use FMP to build your own DBs.

Note FMP v12 is ~$260 on Amazon, not $500. Or buy FMP 11 used if you really want to cheap out.

Building basic DBs is really easy. One can use FMP and build simple flat file DBs or build fully relational DBs as needed. Bento IMO was never a "needed" product, it was just a failed attempt to create a lowered price point product.

-Allen
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Sep 13, 2013 at 11:28 PM. )
     
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Sep 14, 2013, 02:50 PM
 
Agreed that FileMaker is pretty awesome.

For simpler database needs, with the demise of Bento, I've seen mention of an app called TapForms, but I haven't tried it myself.
Tap Forms: A Solid Alternate to FileMaker’s Bento | Mac.AppStorm
     
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Sep 14, 2013, 05:54 PM
 
Is Filemaker used by anyone OTHER than those who are whole-heartedly committed to using all-Mac? I'm not aware of any enterprise environments that would actually choose Filemaker over a real SQL database engine like MSSQL or Oracle.
     
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Sep 15, 2013, 03:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
Is Filemaker used by anyone OTHER than those who are whole-heartedly committed to using all-Mac? I'm not aware of any enterprise environments that would actually choose Filemaker over a real SQL database engine like MSSQL or Oracle.
FileMaker can use an SQL database for data storage. The point is developing the application that uses it. FileMaker is seen as the pro version of MS access, in my experience. Using the built-in database engine is useful when developing or for lighter usage.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Sep 15, 2013, 08:05 AM
 
reader, you did rule out MS SQL but SQL Express is free to 10 GB, and will run without Win Server on Vista/7/8.
     
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Sep 15, 2013, 09:56 AM
 
SQL Express is just the database engine, though, isn't it? He'd still need a frontend. Normally you'd use Access for that, which a) is not free b) does not have a Mac version and c) sucks monkey balls (IMHO, and I've worked a lot with the monstrosity). Or is there a free Mac SQL frontend to download?

To answer the original question: I get MS Excel for cheap because of my job, so I use Excel. It doesn't have a form view, but other than that, it does most of what I'd use a database for.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Sep 15, 2013, 11:30 AM
 
Open Office's database app is pretty good, especially if you have Access experience. Its interface isn't the same, but it has all the same functionality as far as I can tell. And it's free. Since I got all my "larnin'" in messing with databases on corporate machines that had Office on 'em, I've seen Open Office as a good choice for me - if and when I really need a database per se.

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Sep 15, 2013, 11:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
FileMaker can use an SQL database for data storage. The point is developing the application that uses it. FileMaker is seen as the pro version of MS access, in my experience. Using the built-in database engine is useful when developing or for lighter usage.
Yeah, I did some more poking around into what Filemaker actually does. It seems kind of overpriced for essentially being Access.

Originally Posted by P View Post
SQL Express is just the database engine, though, isn't it? He'd still need a frontend. Normally you'd use Access for that, which a) is not free b) does not have a Mac version and c) sucks monkey balls (IMHO, and I've worked a lot with the monstrosity). Or is there a free Mac SQL frontend to download?
PFT... I looooove Access. I made some amazing Access databases at my last job. It's plenty for what an average consumer might need - way more than what Bento can do.

I don't really like database "solutions" that hide the database structure from the designer. A poorly-designed relational database can have a catastrophic impact when the amount of data continues to grow.

As far as MSSQL Express - it's free, but it has one major flaw - it's only accessible from the machine it's running on. It's designed to be used for client applications that need a small database (in lieu of something like SQLite) or for developers to have a local database they can work on before migrating their work to production.

If reader505 doesn't need remote access, there is an Oracle SQL manager that apparently supports MSSQL (and MySQL) as an extra download from the software updates interface. It has an OS X version, too.

sqldev-manage
     
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Sep 16, 2013, 03:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
PFT... I looooove Access. I made some amazing Access databases at my last job. It's plenty for what an average consumer might need - way more than what Bento can do.
Never used Bento. I used Filemaker first, and was then forced to use Access much more. In both cases, I worked on databases that had been developed by someone else. In all cases, the Filemaker databases were well designed, easy to work with both as a developer and as a user, while the Access databases were a usability nightmare. Access also suffered from the OLE image bug - that any image inserted by the user was stored as an uncompressed BMP in addition to the source format. This meant that the database got unusably slow unless I disabled the image insert function. Microsoft fixed this bug in 2007. I saw it at least as long ago as 1995. That alone is reason enough for me to never ever use Access unless I have to.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Sep 16, 2013, 06:44 AM
 
Once you have to start from scratch building the fundamental tables that a db works from, the "relational" part jumps out and waves at you. I rebuilt a "list of..." spreadsheet into an Access database because the spreadsheet took way too much data and spread it out over somewhere like 100 columns. By breaking down groups of columns into categories of information (one group for "training status on X", one on "medical status on Y", another on "name, office, phone, etc.", I was able to take a clunky spreadsheet and turn it into a useful tool, with the "relationship" simply based on identification of the individual all that data applied to. "Joe Jones" connected his list of training (due and completed), his list of medical items (due, completed, deferred), and his demographics. There's no way I could have "seen" how the stuff works by reading the documentation.

This was as much of an "ah ha!" moment for me as finally "getting" the object orientation part of "object oriented programming."

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Sep 16, 2013, 07:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
I don't really like database "solutions" that hide the database structure from the designer. A poorly-designed relational database can have a catastrophic impact when the amount of data continues to grow.
The days of app developers knowing Oracle or SQL Server or whatever are over. I can name lots of apps that make you wonder if anyone ever actually worked with an E-R diagram.

BTW, its the poorly designed app using a relational database that can have a catastrophic impact. And not just in terms of data size.

Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
If reader505 doesn't need remote access, there is an Oracle SQL manager that apparently supports MSSQL (and MySQL) as an extra download from the software updates interface. It has an OS X version, too.
Use something else for MS SQL, Toad has a freeware version. I have to suffer with SQL Developer everyday. Its shite.
     
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Sep 16, 2013, 10:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
The days of app developers knowing Oracle or SQL Server or whatever are over. I can name lots of apps that make you wonder if anyone ever actually worked with an E-R diagram.

BTW, its the poorly designed app using a relational database that can have a catastrophic impact. And not just in terms of data size.
That's really sad, but inevitable. The same thing happened with web design and development. Now you have people who design websites using drag-and-drop tools rather than writing the code themselves, so when something goes wrong they have absolutely no idea how to debug it.

By the same token, someone with no experience with PHP will go to install Wordpress for their website, and again - when an error crops up, they don't even understand how to look at the MySQL database or the PHP on the back end to fix things.

You shouldn't be creating databases full-time if you don't understand the damn fundamentals of creating well-designed relational databases from scratch.

Use something else for MS SQL, Toad has a freeware version. I have to suffer with SQL Developer everyday. Its shite.
Can you provide a link? SQL Developer just came up in a Google search; I have no idea what's good since I don't use OS X very much.
     
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Sep 17, 2013, 01:09 AM
 
Is Filemaker used by anyone OTHER than those who are whole-heartedly committed to using all-Mac? I'm not aware of any enterprise environments that would actually choose Filemaker over a real SQL database engine like MSSQL or Oracle.
Actuallly...yes! Because FileMaker is the ONLY DB solution where you can just create any database of any level of complexity, and then run that on any Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad or even iPod Touch...concurrently! Try doing that with Access. You can even convert your db system into a standalone Mac or Windows app with very little extra effort by using FileMaker Pro Advanced.

And to answer your other challenge, i just finished this week designing and writing a FM solution for a multi-billion (yes, that's with a 'b'!) dollar corporation. It blows away their old system written in Access, can do things that Access developers only dream about (I know, I used to be an Access developer), and is more user friendly than their old system, and they get an iPad and iPhone version included with the system -- without hardly any extra effort! Sure, FileMaker Pro (for Windows or Mac desktops) is $299 (list price, but discounts are available for multiple licenses), but keep in mind FileMaker Go for iPhone or iPad is FREE to anyone! Really hard up for money? Then download the trial of FileMaker Pro on your desktop, write your database in 30 days or less, then install it on your iPhone or iPad. Doesn't cost you a penny then, and you can use your solution on your iPad or Iphone forever. But once you do this, you'll probably eventually want to purchase the full license for FileMaker once you find out how simple and easy it is to get started.

I have a FM database I designed that I access over the internet on my iPhone using FM Go that has 2 million records in it. The "Find" feature can find any record in that database on my iPhone in a fraction of a second...lightning fast..even using a slower 3G connection on an older iPhone!

FileMaker is absolutely the best db development environment available today, IMHO. And no I don't work for FileMaker (and never have), but I do use it to quickly (and inexpensively) create custom software solutions for other businesses -- from small one-person companies to huge corporations with tens of thousands of employees.
( Last edited by gamstutz; Sep 17, 2013 at 01:30 AM. Reason: Grammar corrections)
     
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Sep 17, 2013, 04:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
You shouldn't be creating databases full-time if you don't understand the damn fundamentals of creating well-designed relational databases from scratch.
Agreed.

Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
Can you provide a link? SQL Developer just came up in a Google search; I have no idea what's good since I don't use OS X very much.
For TOAD (not OS X sorry) Toad for SQL Server - Toad World
     
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Sep 17, 2013, 11:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
You shouldn't be creating databases full-time if you don't understand the damn fundamentals of creating well-designed relational databases from scratch.

I agree as well, and to expand upon this idea, to me a big reason for this is that a proper understanding can help prevent somebody from painting themselves into a corner. There is nothing worse than accumulating a ton of data and realizing sometime in the future that there is no easy way to change the structure of the database without having to manually backfill data or write some sort of script to automate doing this.
     
   
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