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I'm not a big database user but did use Bento for record-keeping of expenses-invoices-payments related to a major tax-credit home rehab project. The lifespan of the tax credits is 10 years, which means audit exposure for a minimum of 13 years (and 17 years if it turns out I am a crook). All of which is to say that having Bento pulled out from under me caused a little bit of heartburn, and because it's 32-bit, means I have to maintain the old computer to access it.

The experience makes me wary of products that may or may not stand the test of time. I'm also old and stubborn, and the bleeding subscription model for software holds no appeal.

Tap Forms seems attractive for my needs and the Bento import feature would be liberating (as I contemplate another tax-credit project). Yet the concern remains as to how long its run will last; one more example of the modern conundrum of "can't live with it, can't live without it." It seems our lives going forward will always have this component of porting and adapting the digital tools we use; no longer can we just settle in and expect to face no change in our learned routines. Ah, for the simple days of paper ledgers that would just sit there unmovingly for years, eh? Sigh.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... Yet the concern remains as to how long its run will last; one more example of the modern conundrum of "can't live with it, can't live without it." It seems our lives going forward will always have this component of porting and adapting the digital tools we use...
For what it's worth, it seems like using SQL (in particular, MySQL) might be the best defense against these sorts of changes, as it's very widely supported and long-lived, and you can easily save databases in standard "dump" formats, viewable with a text editor, or export in common CSV/TSV text formats. Of course, you need a good front-end for creating and using the database, and there are a lot of considerations and choices on that front.
 


I'm still using FileMaker Pro 11 (which still seems to work in Mojave).
FileMaker 11 is not entirely stable on Mojave. There are graphics issues, and it takes forever to launch. If you have your .fp7 files on the desktop or in the Documents folder, and you have iCloud set to sync these folders, FileMaker 11 will fail ungracefully; FileMaker's built-in auto-save feature does not play nice with others. Some print operations will fail. Some script steps will crash the program.

If Paul here has a simple single-layout database, it will probably hold up, notwithstanding the iCloud issue. But this is both fragile and temporary; nobody should be setting out to use FileMaker 11 on Mojave at this point. Consider FileMaker 15 as the "sweet spot," running on both older OS's and Mojave and able to open files on FileMaker Server hosts running from version 13 through version 16. Files hosted by 17 or 18 will not be available to FileMaker 15 clients; likewise, files hosted by Server versions prior to 15 (or 16? I don't have access to a Server running 15 to test with) will not be visible to FileMaker Client versions 17 and 18. (Thanks, FileMaker, for making it absurdly complex to support client organizations running mixed versions of macOSes and FileMaker apps.)

For those wanting to retain access to older FileMaker databases (without upgrading) for whatever reason, my advice is to hang on to some older Mac hardware running an OS that works properly with the FileMaker version you require. Once Catalina is installed, the coffin on accessing .fp7 and earlier files will likely be nailed shut. An old Mac Mini running Sierra and running a screen share is a viable workaround, and could have FileMaker versions as far back as FileMaker 9 running on it.
 


For what it's worth, it seems like using SQL (in particular, MySQL) might be the best defense against these sorts of changes, as it's very widely supported and long-lived, and you can easily save databases in standard "dump" formats, viewable with a text editor. Of course, you need a good front-end for creating and using the database, and there are a lot of considerations and choices on that front.
Absolutely. The problem is that some of FileMaker's best features are not compatible with SQL, making migration a difficult process. For example:
  • Multi-value fields. In the layout editor, you can declare a field to be multi-value. You will be able to present multiple boxes on the layout, all of which belong to the same field, and all of which will match searches on that field.
  • Everything is text. Numeric fields, checkboxes, lists, etc. are all text. You can (for example) type text into a numeric field. Everything you type will be stored and displayed, using the numeric content (starting from the first character to the first non-numeric character) for searching and sorting
  • Embedded media in fields. I've loved the ability to paste pictures into database fields, so they display and print along with the rest of the data
If anyone knows a way (that doesn't involve massive amounts of scripting and hacking) to migrate databases with these features into an SQL-based system, I'd love to hear about it.
 


For what it's worth, it seems like using SQL (in particular, MySQL) might be the best defense against these sorts of changes, as it's very widely supported and long-lived, and you can easily save databases in standard "dump" formats, viewable with a text editor. Of course, you need a good front-end for creating and using the database, and there are a lot of considerations and choices on that front.
Symphytum is a front-end to SQLite and the easiest way I've found to generate forms and tables to enter data into SQLite.
Symphytum Wiki said:
Symphytum FAQ
It is possible to open the SQLite file called data.db directly through third party apps like sqlitebrowser.
Symphytum is very much flat-file without the indexes necessary to support a relational structure. It does install locally. It doesn't do math. It isn't possible to copy/paste data in or copy it out. Anything imported from a spreadsheet comes in as text. It will export .csv, which can be opened in a spreadsheet to generate reports and do math.

Loss of user-friendly, user-accessible databases is frustrating. Since they went away without a whimper, there must not have been a lot of us using them....
 




Ric Ford

MacInTouch
ProcessWire is described as a "CMS", but its strong database capabilities may make it a candidate worth evaluating for a variety of web/MySQL database systems, and it's freely downloadable open-source software. I also see no reason it couldn't be used for a database system confined to a Mac (e.g. using MAMP) or a local network or deployed on cheap/free PC hardware running Linux.
ProcessWire said:
Why ProcessWire?
... Because ProcessWire has strong support for custom data types and fields, you may find it to be an ideal fit with inventories of searchable, relational or cross referenced information. Examples include company directories, real estate listings, media delivery engines, travel listings, map applications, scientific directories, mobile application web services, searchable databases for products or services, and so on.

What you’ll love about ProcessWire
... Any given pages may cross reference each other in a one-to-one or one-to-many relationship. This gives ProcessWire the ability to function like a relational database on top of a CMS. The client (or developer of the web site), rather than the software, defines what these relationships are. This opens up an incredible amount of flexibility.

... ProcessWire comes built-in with the ability to create custom repeatable content types as fields (FieldtypeRepeater and FieldtypePageTable). This enables you to create a group of any custom fields, and then make them repeatable. This enables an editor to create and edit any quantity of of these items, all on a single page. Furthermore, the repeated types can be drag-and-drop sorted and even given hierarchy with depth. For even more possibilities, an optional repeatable matrix type is available in the ProFields package...

ProcessWire comes built-in with the ability to create custom repeatable content types as fields (FieldtypeRepeater and FieldtypePageTable). This enables you to create a group of any custom fields, and then make them repeatable. This enables an editor to create and edit any quantity of of these items, all on a single page. Furthermore, the repeated types can be drag-and-drop sorted and even given hierarchy with depth. For even more possibilities, an optional repeatable matrix type is available in the ProFields package...
 


Where, before, the individual FileMaker licence allowed one desktop and one laptop computer, it's now $540 for one computer only. If they go subscription I shudder to think of the cumulative cost. Panorama X, which is a subscription, is at its cheapest deal $300 for 5 years, so if I survive another ten years (to 87) in a non-gaga condition, that's $600 - more expensive than buying FileMaker Pro (and their 'free months' offer is no use to me, I use FileMaker Pro daily).
Please keep in mind that the $600 for ten years of [my product] Panorama X includes all updates during that ten-year period. A new copy of FileMaker plus ten years of upgrades will probably add up to well over $2,000 if you got all of the upgrades. Of course, many FileMaker users skip multiple upgrades, because of cost issues, that you won't have to skip with Panorama X. We get quite a few FileMaker users switching over to Panorama X because it is so much more affordable (not to mention a lot faster, because it is RAM-based). If you use Panorama X every business day (5 days a week), by my calculation the cost is less than 25 cents per day.

Best of luck prospering to age 87!
 


CTM

An option to consider is using MySQL as the database and DaDaBik as a frontend and management tool. It's quite impressive. Other databases are supported, but I believe MySQL has the most comprehensive support.
 


I'm a Database Administrator (DBA), having used and developed many RDBMS over the years.

Back in the 80s, I wrote COBOL and such, using CODASYL (hierarchical) databases and, of course, ISAM files, mostly character user interfaces (ChUI). There was Informix, Ingres (shudder) and later came DBase for CP/M machines and DOS. Borland had Paradox, and Apple (Claris) had FileMaker, while Microsoft came with Access.

All those systems had their niches, but they were all proprietary, and you couldn't write FileMaker code to run against a DBase II, III or IV database. They mostly were not networked either. Between 1987 and 1989, I worked for a consulting company that had developed their own "RDBMS" that was accessible on Novell Netware in multi-user mode. I eventually inherited the role of their assembler-language developer and improved that architecture. (Anybody ever use Microsoft MASM? Oh, fun times .. DOS Interrupt 0x21h. :)

Later, I started to specialize in Progress OpenEdge, which now provides my bread and butter. However, they don't make anything that would remotely run on a Mac. So when I looked for Mac-based tools, I arrived at PHP and RealBASIC (now "Xojo") as development languages and MySQL and PostgreSQL as backend databases. After using both database engines, I eventually chose Postgres, and I have not regretted it.

No, it's not a FileMaker replacement, it is a data storage system. If you want pretty applications, you have to write them in something else. Converting an older FileMaker "application" is not hard, but it's not that easy either. There are a lot of features in tools like FileMaker that you have to write yourself when moving across platforms.

I do not recommend that a novice developer with maybe some Access/FileMaker/Excel experience should build applications using SQL databases with high-level languages and expect to develop at the same pace.

If you want to specialize on database queries, you might want to look at having somebody build the application for you and then use query tools to look at your data. LibreOffice has build-in ODBC and JDBC drivers to let you do that, and so do a number of others, from free to very expensive.

As for OpenEdge databases, I found a way to look at those remotely from a Mac, using their JDBC library, the Monkeybread JDBC plugins for Xojo. and Xojo itself. Read and write functions work as expected, but unfortunately, the JDBC drivers are very different from ODBC drivers (JDBC needs three statements for what ODBC can do in just one).

If you want more info on the subject, let me know and I can provide examples and such. Thanks for reading.
 


An option to consider is using MySQL as the database and DaDaBik as a frontend and management tool. It's quite impressive. Other databases are supported, but I believe MySQL has the most comprehensive support.
Every time I ran into an issue with Postgres, I got very fast responses, and help to get me by, from their core development people (Tom Lane, specifically). Their support via their email list is outstanding.

MySQL is now owned by Oracle, and I believe Oracle just bought them to squish their competition. These days, you should go with MariaDB, which is from the original MySQL developer. It has very good support, and the toolset will be familiar, coming from MySQL.
 


This discussion has moved from replacements for the "easy" local only tools many of use knew, used, and mourn to much more complex tools running on servers, web, or in the cloud.

VisiCalc started a "revolution" when it put the power of the micro-processor in the hands of "normal" users. It also enabled a vision of affordable, decentralized, independent computing units owned and controlled by individuals — pretty much the opposite of Google Docs, iCloud, OneDrive - and Adobe:
Adobe’s next big bets are on AR and mixed reality software
“Every app we’re building — Aero, Fresco, Photoshop on the iPad — you will see us push to be cloud native."
 


I'm not a big database user but did use Bento for record-keeping of expenses-invoices-payments related to a major tax-credit home rehab project. The lifespan of the tax credits is 10 years, which means audit exposure for a minimum of 13 years (and 17 years if it turns out I am a crook). All of which is to say that having Bento pulled out from under me caused a little bit of heartburn, and because it's 32-bit, means I have to maintain the old computer to access it. The experience makes me wary of products that may or may not stand the test of time. I'm also old and stubborn, and the bleeding subscription model for software holds no appeal.
Tap Forms seems attractive for my needs and the Bento import feature would be liberating (as I contemplate another tax-credit project). Yet the concern remains as to how long its run will last; one more example of the modern conundrum of "can't live with it, can't live without it." It seems our lives going forward will always have this component of porting and adapting the digital tools we use; no longer can we just settle in and expect to face no change in our learned routines. Ah, for the simple days of paper ledgers that would just sit there unmovingly for years, eh? Sigh.
I switched my data from Bento to Tap Forms, and it was smooth.

The thing with any database, going back to Quickdex and the first FileMaker, is to be able to export in a plain text format [e.g. comma- or tab-separated values]. This still remains a common language for most products, and will give you future-proofing when you upgrade.
 


...but I do intend to buy one more licence from Mike to micro-help him have a new Mac in his retirement.
It is a shame that he is no longer selling licenses to new customers; one can only buy the version 3 to 4 upgrade now. I, for one, might have liked to help him as well, but I didn't buy when I had the chance...
 


If anyone knows a way (that doesn't involve massive amounts of scripting and hacking) to migrate databases with these features into an SQL-based system, I'd love to hear about it.
I've never used FMPro Migrator but it's specifically designed to transfer FileMaker data to other database platforms. Here's a quick tutorial on handling embedded images, and another on processing basic data (using a Windows version of the app).
 


Anyone out there still using Omnis? Omnis 3 was a very capable Mac OS product back in the day and has since morphed into Omnis Studio. Pretty darn hard to discern how much it now costs to deploy, though. I hate it when that kind of info is hidden from a company/product website. Fully cross platform, though.
Hi, Peter; Omnis Studio is still going strong with v10 released earlier this year, and we [Omnis] still have the 3-month trial download for anyone wanting to evaluate Omnis or build a prototype. As we are a cross-platform/multiplatform environment, the pricing structure is not one-size-fits-all. If anyone has queries relating to deployment costs, please email uk.sales@omnis.net, and I or one of my U.S./European colleagues will respond —we are always happy to have conversations with anyone considering Omnis.
 


Re Omnis [vs.] a plea for a simple single user relational database for Macs, akin to FileMaker of old, Omnis is a great product, but it's a monster of a program, designed for big-time programmers to create big applications. I doubt they even sell a single-user version of the program anymore! 4D will sell you a single-user program for $400, but it's a very convoluted program and difficult to learn or master. Panorama is the way to go for the most part. Ninox is cheap ($35) and probably even easier for small tasks. My two cents. I've purchased all of the above.
 


Re Omnis [vs.] a plea for a simple single user relational database for Macs, akin to FileMaker of old, Omnis is a great product, but it's a monster of a program, designed for big-time programmers to create big applications. I doubt they even sell a single-user version of the program anymore! 4D will sell you a single-user program for $400, but it's a very convoluted program and difficult to learn or master. Panorama is the way to go for the most part. Ninox is cheap ($35) and probably even easier for small tasks. My two cents. I've purchased all of the above.
As far as I am concerned, Panorama is definitely the way to go. It is affordable and super-powerful.
 




I am surprised that no one has mentioned Base, part of LibreOffice. It is free.
We did (here and here and here. ;-)

I've used FileMaker Pro (lightly) since version 2.1. (It was even a part of "ClarisOffice" if I remember correctly - anyone remember that? God, I loved MacWrite II/Pro and also loved the ClarisWorks simple database, too.)

I recently upgraded my primary work computer to Mojave and needed to upgrade FileMaker (to v15) - window size and positions were never remembered, which was really annoying. FileMaker offer a three-version-back upgrade, but the third version-back-upgrade is time-limited, so watch out for that, this time around, if you're looking to upgrade!

As it turned out, when I went to upgrade, I had initial sticker shock after realising I had missed the three-version-back upgrade window, but the current offer back then was BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) on the full version. As it happened, a second licence was extremely useful for my company, so that might make the price a little easier to swallow. The way things are going/looking, this may be the last version I purchase though. :-(
 


The problem is that some of FileMaker's best features are not compatible with SQL, making migration a difficult process. For example:
... • Embedded media in fields. I've loved the ability to paste pictures into database fields, so they display and print along with the rest of the data​
If anyone knows a way (that doesn't involve massive amounts of scripting and hacking) to migrate databases with these features into an SQL-based system, I'd love to hear about it.
This was particularly important to me in my use of Bento for the tax-credit project. I have images of invoices, checks, receipts, contracts, etc., all bound up nice and tidy in a relational way to each transaction....
 


I switched my data from Bento to Tap Forms, and it was smooth.
I use Apple Contacts as my searchable "life" database. Most of what is important and useful to me is in the Notes section. Sadly, since Snow Leopard, Contacts has gotten buggier and buggier. With a suggestion from Apple phone support, I tried to use Bento as a substitute some years back. Apple gave it to me for free, but it was very slow. I wasn't impressed and went back to Contacts ("Address Book" at that time).

My dream in life would be to move to Linux and use an integrated suite of an address book, calendar, and email. I've looked many many times, but nothing works as well as the Apple versions of these. Most Linux address book programs either don't have a Notes section at all or it's not searchable. It would be great if Mozilla had an address book database solution, but they don't. What is found in Thunderbird is not robust enough for my needs. I tried to find a template to use in LibreOffice, but had no luck.

In the meantime, I'd be happy with a less buggy version of Apple Contacts. Is there a database program out there that has a searchable address book template that is similar in feel and function to Contacts? (I used Panorama back in the 90's, but haven't looked at it since.)
 


Base needs a Java install, which brings a whole set of problems in itself!
This forum post from LibreOffice should help with any install issues:


(Java's "bad reputation" persists from when Internet Explorer would auto-launch Java apps from the web, and those apps might have been malware. Fair mention: Safari, until version 12 released 9/17/2018, supported Java applets; I'm not sure how the security risk differed from Internet Explorer.)
 


I use Apple Contacts as my searchable "life" database. Most of what is important and useful to me is in the Notes section. Sadly, since Snow Leopard, Contacts has gotten buggier and buggier. With a suggestion from Apple phone support, I tried to use Bento as a substitute some years back. Apple gave it to me for free, but it was very slow. I wasn't impressed and went back to Contacts ("Address Book" at that time). My dream in life would be to move to Linux and use an integrated suite of an address book, calendar, and email. I've looked many many times, but nothing works as well as the Apple versions of these. Most Linux address book programs either don't have a Notes section at all or it's not searchable. It would be great if Mozilla had an address book database solution, but they don't. What is found in Thunderbird is not robust enough for my needs. I tried to find a template to use in LibreOffice, but had no luck. In the meantime, I'd be happy with a less buggy version of Apple Contacts. Is there a database program out there that has a searchable address book template that is similar in feel and function to Contacts? (I used Panorama back in the 90's, but haven't looked at it since.)
I’d take a look at BusyContacts. It also will pull emails from Mail.app to show you email threads with a contact. Add in BusyCal, and you might have what you need.
 


I use Apple Contacts as my searchable "life" database. Most of what is important and useful to me is in the Notes section.
I, too, use Contacts, especially the Notes section. I dislike how structured it is, and really dislike that Apple constantly is cutting off older OS X and iOS versions. It is my choice, not Apple's, if I choose to update an older, still useful, computer.

Tap Forms has worked well for me, but I have to admit, I haven't taken the time to really build it out. I loved Quickdex/iData, but it never worked well on multiple computers.
 


Which Filemaker competitor is able to push data changes from the server to relevant users like Filemaker does?

In other words, Filemaker will update the screen of User B near instantaneously and without any user action if (and only if) User B is looking at a record/field that User A has just updated.

In the SQL solutions, it seems like User B is always responsible for refreshing his screen in order to have the latest data present. On the Internet that is the way things work, but collaboration inside an office can go to new levels with this Filemaker feature.

I do keep wishing for an SQL front-end that will push data changes as economically (CPU, network) as FileMaker does...
 


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