MacInTouch Amazon link...

FileMaker/databases

Channels
Products
I use Apple Contacts as my searchable "life" database.... Is there a database program out there that has a searchable address book template that is similar in feel and function to Contacts?
I could build you a custom database in FileMaker that mocks the layout(s) of Apple Address Book / Contacts, and I could move the data from Contacts / iCloud into FileMaker and give you full search ability, including in the Notes.
For a standalone / single-user requirement, FileMaker Advanced will let me save that file as a self-running database, meaning that you as the end user do not even have to license a single copy of FileMaker to run it! I could even save it as a Windows self-running file if you wanted me to. We could even include import / export scripts for consistently-formatted data, e.g. to and from spreadsheets.

What I cannot really do properly (yet), is then sync that data with iCloud. Working on that.

But if you don't require iCloud sync and wanted to explore a custom self-running database, it would only cost you the time it takes for development to have a knock off Apple Contacts, with all of your data searchable and intact. I or any other competent FileMaker developer would be happy to assist!
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I could build you a custom database in FileMaker that mocks the layout(s) of Apple Address Book / Contacts, and I could move the data from Contacts / iCloud into FileMaker and give you full search ability, including in the Notes....
That's a good point, but it wouldn't support Linux etc. I wonder if doing the same kind of thing in LiveCode would be viable.
 


I could build you a custom database in FileMaker that mocks the layout(s) of Apple Address Book / Contacts ... a standalone / single-user requirement, FileMaker Advanced will let me save that file as a self-running database ... We could even include import / export scripts for consistently-formatted data, e.g. to and from spreadsheets. I or any other competent FileMaker developer would be happy to assist!
This is the kind of "application" that users of AppleWorks, Microsoft Works, and other discontinued simple databases, could create for themselves, on the fly... then share either the "database structure" or the full, or subset of the, populated database.

From reading Filemaker Pro 15 help:
it does not seem the end-user of the runtime can make changes to it but would have to return to the developer.

What would be interesting would be a Filemaker runtime "general" front-end that users could configure to capture data as needed then output as "consistently formatted data" for spreadsheets or to share with other users.
 


... For a standalone / single-user requirement, FileMaker Advanced will let me save that file as a self-running database, meaning that you as the end user do not even have to license a single copy of FileMaker to run it! I could even save it as a Windows self-running file if you wanted me to. We could even include import / export scripts for consistently-formatted data, e.g. to and from spreadsheets....
The self-contained database runtime option is being axed, as far as I know. It may still be an option now, but Claris is definitely moving away from that — it’s on their deprecated features list. (Yet another handy feature lost.)
 


Is there a database program out there that has a searchable address book template that is similar in feel and function to Contacts?
What about Cardhop, from the makers of Fantastical? They have several videos on their site, one of which deals specifically with notes.

It also looks quite similar to Contacts in terms of record display.
 


The self-contained database runtime option is being axed, as far as I know. It may still be an option now, but Claris is definitely moving away from that — it’s on their deprecated features list. (Yet another handy feature lost.)
Glad I bought FileMaker 16 when I had the chance; it will be the last version I buy. When it's no longer usable, Panorama, here I come!
 


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. ...
I just came across this solution, most likely costly to setup, but interesting...
Firebase said:
 


Glad I bought FileMaker 16 when I had the chance; it will be the last version I buy. When it's no longer usable, Panorama, here I come!
Just checked: Runtime solutions are still possible with v18, but it’s clearly marked as deprecated (a warning I guess).
 


I just purchased my last upgrade, to FileMaker Pro 18. I say last, because the first thing on the list of deprecated and removed features is peer-to-peer sharing, which will be removed in the next version.

I've used FileMaker since it was Claris FileMaker II, and sharing in a small workgroup has been the entire point of FileMaker for me and my clients, especially for small and not-for-profit offices. Forcing people to use an expensive server software by removing existing features is not - in my opinion - a sustainable business model. More to the point, it's hostile to the people who purchased and supported FileMaker to this point, for whom buying a more complex, more expensive software for simple needs makes no sense financially or othewise.
 


That's a good point, but it wouldn't support Linux etc. I wonder if doing the same kind of thing in LiveCode would be viable.
I assume it would - it is certainly doable in Xojo, where they build for various Linux versions. It is, however, an entirely different kettle of fish to write. A reasonable FileMaker Pro developer would have a nice, relational contact solution running in an hour or two (in fact I'm sure FileMaker Pro come with a Contacts template) whereas a Xojo or LiveCode developer would be working out relationship tables and SQL joins, working out reports, building interfaces and menus and events.

It took me about 12-18 months (spare time) to produce a fairly complex Xojo/MySQL application, which we've used for the past 10 years. I've decided to move them back to FileMaker and was able to have a functioning solution with about 90% of the functionality in less than a week.

When you get into complex joins, sophisticated reporting, multiple layouts, etc., there is a world of difference between FileMaker offering it on a plate as opposed to writing every single line yourself.
 


There are many options you can use these days to build whatever you need, from small address book apps to major ERP applications, and not one solution fits all.

If you want to, say, mimic an address book, but you wanted to have maps displayed inline or company logos and so on, you might look at "simple" tools, like FileMaker and similar that were discussed in this thread.

If you wanted more customized content, you can go with a programming language — Xcode, Xojo, Python and so on, or make it something browser-based using PHP — and access a common database with SQLite. iOS and macOS both have those as part of Xcode, so you already have what you need, free.

More complex projects require more complex tools, if you have the skills to use those — multiuser server databases, their maintenance, and development skills to write your own code in a development environment of your choice.

I normally develop what I or my clients need on a Mac using Xojo and PostgreSQL. Deployment will be on whatever the client wants — since Xojo is cross-platform, they can have Mac or Windows front-ends, and I host the databases on Linux. And, no, I never lost a database due to some corruption - backups are always done and transaction logs are always kept for a while — no issues.
 


That's a good point, but it wouldn't support Linux etc. I wonder if doing the same kind of thing in LiveCode would be viable.
LiveCode is a RAD [Rapid Application Development] front-end, and with good coding practices (or depending on the source, plugins), it doesn't matter if your data source is local or on a server, or if that server is running on the same operating system.

There are loads of good tools. LiveCode brings with it a model that suits many developers. Xojo is also another good option but with a model that fits better with traditional coding models. You could even go the way of Python or any number of traditional 'heavy client' routes, though the latter can be really problematic if you rely on a framework that isn't cross-platform or relies on changeable OS-specific stuff (and by the way, Qt is really good in that regard).

FileMaker developers have, over the years, figured out ways to separate UI from data, but FileMaker definitely had a 'compound' model that makes porting from it challenging - and one I know that the folks over at .com Solutions Inc. have worked on for years because of all the binary stuff that FileMaker hides.
 


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...
Helix (Odesta Corp.) introduced the first host/client (a.k.a. client/server) network database server in about 1985. Referential integrity was baked in. We've been happily telling B what A has just done ever since. More importantly, referential integrity prevents A from changing B's record if B is editing it. No SQL database accessed via a browser is that smart out of the box, relying on the developer and some third party tool to implement it.

On the other hand, Helix is generally clueless about the modern world of the Internet and relies on third party tools and AppleEvents to inform it. There is Qilan and more recently there's a node.js solution (databright.com), as well, that I'm currently using to synch Helix with a MySQL database.

While I would gladly swap Helix for FileMaker to get a better UI/UX design experience, the actual performance of Helix and the ease of setting up for multiuser access remains the great untold story that few have ever read. I do notice that the recent developments in FileMaker have led to the return to the Helix fold of many who had been lured to FileMaker in years past.

Finally, to all those who know him, Larry Atkin - one half of the dynamic duo that created Helix (and Qilan) in the first place - and Steve Keyser, who created the multiuser features, are still working on Helix.

Really, there should be a history written about these pioneers of the Mac world who are still working today, out of the glare of the Apple PR machine, just delivering the goods to a loyal user base.
 


Helix (Odesta Corp.) introduced the first host/client (a.k.a. client/server) network database server in about 1985.
Visited the Helix website. Couldn't even make sense of the pricing model. (Then, I suspect those who develop and deploy the kind of data management for which Helix is intended could.)

At something of the opposite extreme:
C-Command Software said:
Eagle Filer
EagleFiler is a digital filing cabinet, a research assistant, snippet collector, and document organizer. You can use it to write a journal, track all the files for a project or job, manage your bookmarks, save your favorite Web articles, store financial statements and receipts, run a paperless office, plan a trip, collect your course notes, archive your e-mail correspondence, search mailing list archives, research a purchase, remember recipes to cook or books to read, store scientific papers, sort photos, gather legal case notes, or assemble a scrapbook. It’s the most flexible tool on your Mac.
 


I know it probably shouldn't come into the decision-making process, but the websites mentioned above - for Qilan, Helix and EagleFiler - are all terrible and look like something from the 90's. I concur with George regarding the Helix site — very confusing and not helpful at all.

At first glance, EagleFiler looks to be more comparable to Evernote or OneNote than FileMaker.
 


I know it probably shouldn't come into the decision-making process, but the websites mentioned above - for Qilan, Helix and EagleFiler - are all terrible and look like something from the 90's. I concur with George regarding the Helix site — very confusing and not helpful at all.
There is no apology worth making about the Helix site, but I'll try anyway: apart from the companies big enough to employ proper website designers, in my experience, database companies seem to be indifferent to the user experience, probably because data management is their focus. I base this on a survey of database websites a few years ago. Try these for example:
On the other hand, these guys have changed markedly since I last looked:
By the way, Servoy is really worth a look if you want to get away from FileMaker and like JavaScript. I fell in love with its multi-developer environment and version management - roll out a new edition into a live production environment - roll it back if it fails!

For those who are looking for the advantages that Helix pioneered in what is now called the "low code/no code" environment, perhaps look at these new entrants, albeit with a cloud orientation:
CIO Review said:
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
By the way, Servoy is really worth a look if you want to get away from FileMaker and like JavaScript. I fell in love with its multi-developer environment and version management - roll out a new edition into a live production environment - roll it back if it fails!
For what little it's worth, my experience with a Servoy-based production system was not fun, between complexity, bugs that they didn't seem interested in fixing, and costs. That was a number of years ago, but my understanding is that Servoy hasn't exactly been gaining in the meantime, and I doubt it's much competition for FileMaker or Panorama X.
 


For what little it's worth, my experience with a Servoy-based production system was not fun, between complexity, bugs that they didn't seem interested in fixing, and costs. That was a number of years ago, but my understanding is that Servoy hasn't exactly been gaining in the meantime, and I doubt it's much competition for FileMaker or Panorama X.
I was actively developing in FileMaker Pro when Servoy was first founded. It was touted heavily as a 'new' Filemaker and targeted primarily at existing FileMaker Pro developers. If I recall correctly, there was a prominent FileMaker developer who became something of an advocate for Servoy.

There's no question the concept was great — a 'FileMaker-like' RAD development tool which could use a multitude of SQL databases as storage — but it just never seemed to take off. It was sufficently different to FileMaker Pro to make it 'too much effort' for existing developers without offering (enough) compelling reasons to change.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
If I recall correctly, there was a prominent FileMaker developer who became something of an advocate for Servoy.
Checked their website. Zero mentions of Servoy now.
There's no question the concept was great — a 'FileMaker-like' RAD development tool which could use a multitude of SQL databases as storage — but it just never seemed to take off.
Managing SQL databases, on top of managing a whole separate development environment, is... not fun. The third layer, of Java, in between SQL and the Servoy environment, plus authentication/licensing issues were all just way too much misery. I never want to go there again. Integrated systems, like FileMaker or Panorama X, whatever their limitations, are so much nicer and easier in many ways.
 


Thanks all for those pointers!

I checked them for information on "data broadcasting". That is Servoy's name for pushing data changes to affected clients.

Servoy was the only web site that allowed me to find the feature. I was aghast that I couldn't find any mention of the feature on Filemaker.com despite searching for more than 5 minutes.

I think Ric has a point about Servoy, and I may try Helix 8 to see where that stands while I wait for Panorama Server.

I also was intrigued about replication in Frontbase, which is a great asset against hardware-related downtime. But while Frontbase seems to import FileMaker data with relative ease, they say nothing about scripts, and that is where the "business intelligence" lies.

In my case, replacing a long-standing FileMaker application probably is best done by moving new features to a new environment and adding essential old features as needed until the FileMaker solution is only needed for reference, if that. I will probably need extra FileMaker servers and clients to cover the transition time, though.
 


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.
Hi, Michael; Omnis Studio Standard Edition can be used as a stand-alone solution for desktops. The Standard Edition is $250 USD for a perpetual license and includes:
  • The Omnis VCS for team-based development
  • A Data Access Module (DAM) to connect to PostgreSQL or MySQL
  • The SQLite and OmnisSQL DAMs, which allow SQL access to SQLite and Omnis datafiles
  • A single-user runtime license for Windows and OS X
Please note that you need the Professional Edition if you want to develop web or mobile apps using the Omnis JavaScript Client.

Feel free to contact me at Stephen.mitchell@omnis.net if you have any queries.
 



And... it's "goodbye, FileMaker/Claris." Three hours ago, I received a grim email that is summed up here:
It arrived in my inbox with a slightly different subject line: "Important FileMaker product support changes", but the content appears to be identical.
I think I am in the same position as you. I really like FileMaker, but I do not see the need to update every year, especially at their prices. Will be sticking with Provue Panorama X (I use both apps) for the foreseeable future.
 


And... it's "goodbye, FileMaker/Claris." Three hours ago, I received a grim email that is summed up here:
It arrived in my inbox with a slightly different subject line: "Important FileMaker product support changes", but the content appears to be identical.
So now it is subscription only:
FileMaker An Apple Subsidiary said:
Beginning next year Claris will only provide product releases to customers with a current annual subscription or a perpetual license with an active Maintenance agreement.
But there is no annual subscription for Individuals, just for teams of 5 or more users, at $2,340 per year.

Meanwhile, I've found that the best way to run FileMaker Pro 12 is in Windows 10.
 



And... it's "goodbye, FileMaker/Claris." ...
Me, too. I've been a FileMaker developer for decades. I didn't renew my developer license this year nor have I paid for the upgrade to 18. FileMaker has gone from rock-solid to quirky (if not too buggy). The ludicrous unsustainable yearly development cycle has only made this worse....
 


This has come at an awkward time for us - over the Xmas break we intended deploying an entirely new system based on Filemaker. I don't want to make a hasty decision to trash 12 months’ work, but it will require a good analysis of what these new conditions mean.

The greatest obstacle in my eyes is new machines running Catalina, as we still have requirements for 32-bit apps. If we could buy machines with Mojave (or Sierra/High Sierra), I'd try to convince management to purchase new machines which we could stabilise for several years. I would happily install Windows, except for some complex AppleScript requirements.

Frankly, I'm getting 'update fatigue' from this fascination to rush out upgrades on a subscription basis to keep the cash registers ticking over. It's nonsensical.
 


Amazon disclaimer:
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts