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Best database solution?
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jprint714
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Feb 21, 2009, 06:11 PM
 
Just wondering what folks are using these days for database applications. I'm currently using FileMaker Pro (8), but there might be a better fit out there. FMP allows me to create more fields to enter multiple phone numbers and addresses, as well as create drop down tabs and check box fields, etc. for differentiating the background of each contact. But its searching capabilities are a bit clunky, and it doesn't interface w/ Mac's Spotlight.

Has anyone found a better solution? Here's my database wish list...

-I'd like to keep these core features -- creating multiple fields, as well as drop down tabs and check box fields, for differentiating sources' background -- but find an app that does better/easier searching.

-Interfacing the app w/ Spotlight.

-Any kind of hyperlinking-like features. That is, will not just allow me to attach a reference to a file, but link to a particular section w/in a file (i.e., Word, PDF, etc..

-Cross-platform would also be great...

Any suggestions? Thanks!
     
besson3c
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Feb 21, 2009, 06:21 PM
 
So you're looking for a Desktop app where the data is confined to your machine?
     
jprint714  (op)
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Feb 21, 2009, 06:22 PM
 
Correct. I need to this contact info to be totally secure, so I can't have it be part of an internet app.
     
ghporter
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Feb 21, 2009, 07:41 PM
 
NeoOffice/OpenOffice offers a database app that's on a par with Access and should do most of what you're looking for. I don't know about integrating with Spotlight, but I'm pretty sure the others are covered. I also don't know what the learning curve for the app might be from FMP, but it's built to act at least somewhat like Access-it even LOOKS like Access.

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turtle777
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Feb 21, 2009, 08:58 PM
 
I don't do databases, but if I needed one, I'd probably start with Bento, just because the learning curve is not as steep as with FMP or even Access.

-t
     
jprint714  (op)
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Feb 22, 2009, 02:54 PM
 
Thanks very much for all of your replies. I looked at NeoOffice/OpenOffice but don't quite see database-like capabilities like the ons I described. Perhaps I'm overlooking something there... Is it just that it possesses some of the hyperlinking-like functions I mentioned?

I've looked at Bento. Everyone recommends version 3, but unfortunately I can't test it right now since it require Leopard and I'm presently using 10.4.11 w/ my G4 laptop. But even if I were able to use it, I've heard that it has eve more limited database capabilities in terms of being able to create multiple fields, as well as drop down tabs and check box fields, for differentiating sources' background.

Any other ideas...?
     
Chuckit
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Feb 22, 2009, 06:57 PM
 
Bento is from the same people who do FileMaker — it's sort of the "consumer" version, like Photoshop vs. Photoshop Elements.
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jprint714  (op)
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Feb 23, 2009, 05:26 PM
 
I've heard from others that FileMaker Pro 10 and even MySQL are the way to go as for as storing and sorting contact management while creating and utilizing other fields for organizing and searching... Wish there was a way to interface FMP w/ DevonThink -- that would basically solve how best to attach a reference to a file -- and link to a particular section w/in a file (i.e., Word, PDF, etc.).
     
Gavin
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Feb 24, 2009, 07:40 AM
 
If you are talking about ease of interface I don't think you will beat FMP.

I don't know of anything that will interface with spotlight. Maybe you can drop your records out as text files or xml with a link that will jump into the record in your DB, spotlight can index that.

MySQL is what you want for maximum flexibility in designing your database. The trade off is that is is a real database server, there is no built-in interface, and it has a definite learning curve. To make a user friendly front end you would build it as a web application using PHP, etc. . But, you get benefits like cross-platform usage, freedom to add as many users as you like because the interface is a web browser. and with new AJAX/javascript techniques the interface can be very application like and is super flexible. Another plus is availability on a local network or even over the Internet if you want.

I always find the FMP is great for simple things but when it gets more complicated you hit a wall. However is it powerful enough to have ways to tweak it.

I recommend you get on a FMP forum and search tip sites for tricks to improve searching and indexing.
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OreoCookie
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Feb 24, 2009, 08:14 AM
 
The OP mentions apps like DevonThink, the probability that he wants to write a MySQL-based app is exactly zero. The fact that FileMaker Pro plays nice with MySQL is not really important, it's something that happens under the hood.

@OP
I would look into FileMaker Pro and see whether your points are covered by the upgrade.
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turtle777
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Feb 24, 2009, 11:16 AM
 
I agree with Oreo.

It really baffles me sometimes what kind of "otherworldly" advice is given here.

If someone knew how to program a SQL database complete with a front-end web-based GUI, he wouldn't ask the kind of questions that the OP did.

-t
     
jprint714  (op)
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Feb 24, 2009, 12:49 PM
 
Gotha. Thanks so much for all of your help. As I said, I just wish there was a way to better interface FMP w/ DEVONthink. If I could figure that out I think I'd be pretty much set...
     
mduell
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Feb 24, 2009, 02:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
MySQL is what you want for maximum flexibility in designing your database. The trade off is that is is a real database server
     
jprint714  (op)
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Feb 25, 2009, 03:24 AM
 
Yes, I've heard MySQL is great for maximum flexibility in designing a database, but i've also heard it has a sharp learning curve and isn't very user friendly. Does it interface very well w/ other app's? What about Spotlight?
     
Veltliner
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Feb 25, 2009, 04:33 AM
 
Depends on what is in the database.

For photos and video clips I found Expressions Media 2 to be the best, and I'm going to buy it soon.

It's the former iView Media Pro.
     
besson3c
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Feb 25, 2009, 09:25 AM
 
jprint714: MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and I'm presuming MsSQL are not applications but database backends. It's up to you to write or bring your own application into the picture that interfaces with the MySQL DB backend.
     
turtle777
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Feb 25, 2009, 11:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
What about Spotlight?
Short, non-technical answer: NO, doesn't work.

If course, if you are a genius programmer, set up your own MySQL database on your local machine and somehow manage to write a Spotlight plugin to do the indexing, then yes. But I doubt that's the solution you're looking for.

-t
     
Gavin
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Feb 25, 2009, 01:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by jprint714 View Post
Yes, I've heard MySQL is great for maximum flexibility in designing a database, but i've also heard it has a sharp learning curve and isn't very user friendly. Does it interface very well w/ other app's? What about Spotlight?
MySQL may not be an App in the way you think of it. It runs in the background, there are no menus or windows and no icon in the dock. You connect to it with another program using text commands.

I think people are talking about it to give you an idea of what is out there, not necessarily suggesting that you use it.

The main problem here is there is a big gap between what FMP can do and the next step up. Sort of like going from a chauffeured limo to building and flying your own cargo helicopter.

It's hard to say were you are from your post - you may just need to dive into FMP and learn the details and tricks to get it to do what you want. Or, you may be on the cusp of needing something more powerful, which means big learning curve (months!) or hiring it out.
You can take the dude out of So Cal, but you can't take the dude outta the dude, dude!
     
jprint714  (op)
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Feb 25, 2009, 03:00 PM
 
I think you're right. MySQL doesn't sound like the right app for me for various reasons. I do wish there was a way to get FMP to become more accessible to Spotlight or other search app's AND it would be really ideal if FMP could interface w/ information manager app, such a DEVONthink... Any ideas on that front? Thanks again!
     
turtle777
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Feb 25, 2009, 03:22 PM
 
So, why does DevonThink not fit the bill ?

What do you need to do that requires tight integration of FMP and DevonThink ?

Maybe you are looking for a complicated solution that really could be solved very simply.

-t
     
besson3c
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Feb 25, 2009, 03:56 PM
 
jprint: honestly, if this were me I would be much less concerned about stuff like Spotlight integration and much more concerned with finding something that allows you to import and export your data in a common format, and that will help you map fields to new database structures. The last thing you want is to be tethered to some proprietary "thing" only to later run into some serious show stopping limitations that require that you switch to something else. It's the sort of thing that seems to happen with a lot of Apple's solutions and some OS X solutions in general: they provide you with a comfortable little bubble which works great until you have to leave that bubble. Not being able to get out of that bubble gracefully could cost you in a very big way, in this case.

You need something that is designed to be more open and generalized rather than a just-add-water sort of product that caters to a very specific audience (such as any product that would include Spotlight integration, I would guess). If FMP or Devon will export in a useful format, great, I'd go for that, but don't trade off this flexibility for something that seems less intimidating.
     
Gavin
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Feb 25, 2009, 04:38 PM
 
That's good advice - you should expect that whatever you end up doing, sooner or later you will need to move it. So try to keep it simple and straight forward. Specifically in FMP that means stuff like repeating fields and complicated calculation fields will be a PIA if you port your data to something else in a year or two.
You can take the dude out of So Cal, but you can't take the dude outta the dude, dude!
     
besson3c
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Feb 25, 2009, 04:54 PM
 
If FMP and Devon don't work out, you might actually find that a locally hosted custom web application using a MySQL backend to be your best option. The one major plus here is that you would own your data, and you would have easy access to it and complete control over it.

I know that the idea of a custom web application sounds complicated and expensive, but even if you had somebody else write it and they documented your app clearly, if you picked the right person they could develop something like this very quickly, and it may end up costing you less than a non-custom application anyway. Plus, you'd have something that was perfectly tuned to your workflow (save Spotlight integration).
     
ofxman
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Feb 27, 2009, 02:20 PM
 
By far the best database program for the mac if Helix. It is stand alone or multiuser. Their website is http://www.qsatoolworks.com/

I have been using this product since 1986! No other Mac or Windows database program comes close.

Panorama is second. It has some very powerful data manipulation tools and is probably the fastest database out because all of is databases are memory resident. Their website is http://www.provue.com/ and they have a 45 day fully functional trial version.

Good Luck.
     
turtle777
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Feb 27, 2009, 04:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by ofxman View Post
By far the best database program for the mac if Helix. It is stand alone or multiuser. Their website is http://www.qsatoolworks.com/
I dunno.

I got completely confused by looking at their release schedule. It seems like they are struggling to get a Intel native version out. And they still offer clients that run in Classic only.



-t
     
quietjim
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Mar 6, 2009, 10:46 AM
 
I have used both versions of Bento and would not recommend it to anyone. It's fine for getting data in... it's very difficult to get data out. For example, Bento automatically works with Address Book so you can add fields to AB, you don't have to re-enter data. But if you want mailing labels...you have to go back to AB with it's limited output! There is no facility for formatting print reports.
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Jonesy
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Mar 6, 2009, 07:16 PM
 
I don't know exactly what the original poster's requirements are but FMP will interface with other programs using AppleScript. I have a database I wrote for patient management, a very glorified contact manager, which will send fields into a Pages document using AppleScript. If DevonThink is scriptable then this should be possible. Scripts within FMP can run AppleScripts. The new addition of script triggers may make this interface even better.

Writing something as complex as this may take a while to learn. FMP is quite straightforward and the help files are not bad but if you are starting from scratch don't expect too much too quickly, especially if you have to learn some AppleScript as well.
     
shadylady88
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May 3, 2009, 04:17 PM
 
Bento would be wonderful except it doesn't synch with the iPhone/iTouch!! Have,or will they change this? Using HandDBase 4 until I find better!
     
Cold Warrior
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May 3, 2009, 05:47 PM
 
For contact information I just use Excel. Many fields for categories, easy to search, and handy filter options. For security, I keep it on an AES 256 bit disk image. It also allows hyperlinks in the fields and is cross-platform. Spotlight will index MS Office files AFAIK, although spotlight isn't cross-platform.

Crude but effective.
     
turtle777
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May 3, 2009, 06:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cold Warrior View Post
For contact information I just use Excel. Many fields for categories, easy to search, and handy filter options. For security, I keep it on an AES 256 bit disk image. It also allows hyperlinks in the fields and is cross-platform. Spotlight will index MS Office files AFAIK, although spotlight isn't cross-platform.

Crude but effective.
What's the reason you don't use Apple's Address Book ?
Lack of security ?

-t
     
Cold Warrior
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May 3, 2009, 06:10 PM
 
Just personal preference for Excel. I like it for just about anything I can put in it.
     
turtle777
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May 5, 2009, 08:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by shadylady88 View Post
Bento would be wonderful except it doesn't synch with the iPhone/iTouch!! Have,or will they change this? Using HandDBase 4 until I find better!
Yes, it does. Since today

http://www.filemaker.com/products/bento/iphone.html

-t
     
inbrissy
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Jul 29, 2009, 07:52 PM
 
I've developed databases in pretty much everything under the sun. For simple, secure and easy to modify, you can't beat FileMaker. It is easy to learn and very flexible in what you can do with it. It certainly is much much simpler then any form of SQL.

You can turn of all outside access and simply run it locally only. Its account privileges are reasonably powerful.

It also has the flexibility to allow you to connect to SQL databases down the track if you need to and accessing data from iPhones/iPods is pretty simple through XML. It will very easily let you create native iPhone applications that can access the data through either the internet via http or over a VPN via http.

I've done several projects using this setup and it works out very well.. Combining the SQLite on the iPhone and the FileMaker back end database has worked out very very well for most things I've had to do with databases.

Just my two cents worth.
     
   
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