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Personal databases
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driven
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Mar 4, 2016, 03:03 AM
 
I just ran across an old thread from 2013 that I can no longer just reply to. It seems that now (in 2016) the "Personal database" field is even more dire than it was in 2013.

On Windows, MS Access still exists, and apparently has evolved. (It can be a front end to SQL servers, I think it can be the UI for oData sources, publishing to a Sharepoint server for web-access, etc.) What do we have on the Mac? Even something as simple as Bento seems to be lacking now.

"Apps" seems to have replaced much of what we old-timers used to use databases for, but there are times we'd like to "roll our own" as it were. While I have the skills to write my own app to front end a database, I'd very much like to find a middle-ground between a pre-built app and a full-blown development project. I looked at file maker, and it's far too expensive. (dBase III prices from the 1980s)

Something along the lines of MS Access for OS X would be ideal. What do all of you use? Or has this space been abandoned?

Thanks!
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P
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Mar 4, 2016, 08:52 AM
 
MS Access could be used against SQL database since the nineties. Default was the included Jet engine, but you could use SQL if you wanted to. At least in the versions I used, it was a bit primitive in that you had to manually write the SQL queries that your application should use, otherwise Access would just download the entire index from the server to find the items it wanted, but you could "make the common case fast and the uncommon case correct" by just constructing queries for the most commonly used functions. It was an obvious thing to improve in future versions, I guess.

Anyway: the answer is that "everyone" writes web interfaces to SQL databases for anything that needs to be online or is even remotely complex, and makes do with Excel for more basic needs. There is still Filemaker, but I think that the web is taking over this space.
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.
     
driven  (op)
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Mar 4, 2016, 03:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
MS Access could be used against SQL database since the nineties. Default was the included Jet engine, but you could use SQL if you wanted to. At least in the versions I used, it was a bit primitive in that you had to manually write the SQL queries that your application should use, otherwise Access would just download the entire index from the server to find the items it wanted, but you could "make the common case fast and the uncommon case correct" by just constructing queries for the most commonly used functions. It was an obvious thing to improve in future versions, I guess.

Anyway: the answer is that "everyone" writes web interfaces to SQL databases for anything that needs to be online or is even remotely complex, and makes do with Excel for more basic needs. There is still Filemaker, but I think that the web is taking over this space.

Yeah, I knew it did SQL server for a long time, it's mostly the web-protocols that are new now.

When you say the web is taking over this space, that's fine. But what does one use to develop the web-front end? Is there anything WYSIWYG, or are we using traditional development tools for this? (Which I'm quite capable of doing, but it's sort of like using a Bobcat tractor to dig a hole for a rosebush in my flowerbed.)
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reader50
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Mar 4, 2016, 03:18 PM
 
I've been exploring personal DBs too. I'm used to the AppleWorks DB, which was powerful and customizable. But it doesn't work in 10.7 or later, unless you use sheepshaver. In an emulation window.

Most of the DB products have gone the SQL server route, which is a non-starter for me. I don't need integration between my DB documents (they aren't related to each other) and I don't want them all folded into a single file on disk. I want the flat-file model, where each document is its own file on disk. Such DBs are still around, but they're rarer.

I'll write a list of what I've found later tonight, gotta run to work.
     
driven  (op)
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Mar 4, 2016, 03:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
I've been exploring personal DBs too. I'm used to the AppleWorks DB, which was powerful and customizable. But it doesn't work in 10.7 or later, unless you use sheepshaver. In an emulation window.

Most of the DB products have gone the SQL server route, which is a non-starter for me. I don't need integration between my DB documents (they aren't related to each other) and I don't want them all folded into a single file on disk. I want the flat-file model, where each document is its own file on disk. Such DBs are still around, but they're rarer.

I'll write a list of what I've found later tonight, gotta run to work.
Bento would have been perfect for you if they didn't kill it off.

Personally, I like the relational model. That's fine. It's just A) There's no MS Access for the Mac. B) SQL server is a great back-end (and SQL Server Express is free), but there's no quick front end.

Ideally I'd like something 100% Mac based, or secondly I could put it on my server with a web-interface. That's fine too. Just need to figure out the tools available.
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driven  (op)
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Mar 4, 2016, 05:38 PM
 
I found this today. I just started dorking with it.
It looks interesting: (It even has an iOS app)

https://airtable.com
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reader50
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Mar 5, 2016, 03:04 AM
 
I only investigated flat-file DBs, since I don't want my documents locked into one program. The list gets notably longer if monolithic DB programs are acceptable. I didn't investigate cloud services and/or mobile app versions, my list only considered desktop/laptop use.

Here's the list I built.
  • EagleData (free) Very basic, no editing in list view, no calc fields, no media fields
  • iData Lite ($30) No calc fields, cannot use mouse to select multiple records, or copy range of cells.
  • iData Pro 3 ($70) Same as iData Lite
  • iData Pro 4 ($70) Same as iData Lite
  • Panorama Sheets ($40) Apparently the closest to AW DB module, seems powerful. No media field types. Operates fully in RAM, super fast. But DRM restricts activation to 3 computers, and it is not clear if different partitions and OS versions count as different computers.
I've been using LibreOffice (free) to maintain my DB files. It will actually import AW DB files, but opens them as spreadsheets. At least calc fields are present, they save as individual documents on disk, and you can select/copy ranges of fields. But there's no locking of fields into records against sorting mistakes.

LibreOffice does have a DB module, but it's a monolithic-file type, and is atrocious to use. It even uses a Windows-style wizard to setup DBs, a strong hint the UI didn't get enough work.

I may end up on Panorama Sheets, but will have to ask the developer some questions about the DRM. I always have multiple partitions and boot options on my systems. And try new OS versions on their own partitions, importing user account, rather than update in place.
     
reader50
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Mar 15, 2016, 01:16 PM
 
I used their contact form to send my questions about Panorama Sheets activation policies (DRM). That was 10 days ago. There has been no reply. Usually businesses put effort into answering questions from prospective customers.
     
   
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