Stupid-simple Database App -- AppleWorks the Only Option?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Makosuke, May 20, 2006.

  1. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    My dad loves cataloging his photo negatives (thousands of them) in databases. He also has a database he uses to run a small business. And he's currently using Microsoft Works 3.0 Mac to do it. Yes, that's right, a Classic app well over a decade old that's been dead on this platform since the early 90s.

    I really, really need to get him switched over to something that isn't as brutally unstable (save without closing and re-opening the document, and the entire file is wiped out on a crash) and has some hope of a future so that these databaases will remain accessable to those of us who don't maintain copies of crusty old software.

    Problem: He isn't any sort of database wiz, he just likes organizing data. All he wants is to be able to easily set up a single-record screen, have a list view, and some moderately simple way to print reports, plus Macros--he LOVES macros.

    So that brings me to the question: The Database in Appleworks is actually very close to what he wants (save Macros, but those can be handled by another app), but it's basically dying technology. Filemaker is drastically more than he needs, has far too steep of a learning curve, and is too expensive anyway.

    Are there any other really simple options out there, or does everybody just (mis-)use Excel or buy one of the more powerful packages?

    I've heard 4D and Openbase mentioned, but both of those seem like way more than is necessary, even if there is a low-end version. Am I mis-understanding how easy it is to set up a new database in them>?

    And yes, I could custom-design him a couple of databases in FileMaker and just let him use those, but I'd rather give him something he can learn himself and works not wildly differently from the system he had before--the guy's in his 80s, so he really doesn't want to waste too much time re-learning stuff. The basic system he has going is fine, it's just that the software he's using to do it is all but dead.

    Then again, it's rather impressive that he can run 1992-vintage software properly on a DP G4 under 10.3, and it still does more or less what it should.
  2. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2003
    I will readily admit that FileMaker's once-babysimple learning curve has crept farther and farther towards WTF for newbies and non-techies.

    How about snagging a copy of FileMaker 4 off eBay? Heck, even FileMaker 2.1! It will still mean running in the Classic environment but it's robust as all get-out, simple enough to use that most folks never cracked the plastic off the user's manual, imports and exports nicely to other formats, and will readily convert to FileMaker 8 if & when he finds its limitations too confining. (Or eventually goes MacIntel and gets dragged kicking and screaming into the non-Classic world for better or worse).

    You do not want to impose 4D or Openbase on anyone who would find FileMaker 8 to be too complicated!
  3. Ozu macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2006
    Modern and powerful and free...

    It may seem like overkill, but I'd suggest you look into installing MySQL server on his machine, use a MySQL client such as Navicat to import the Works tables into the database, and from there on use Navicat as a client to access the data.

    Perhaps a bit of a learning curve to it, but MySQL does everything you could want a database to do. It runs natively under OSX, it's modern, and it's free. And if he gets good at it he can make good money as a DBA. :)
  4. kgarner macrumors 68000


    Jan 28, 2004
    That was my first idea upon reading this. I haven't used Navicat, so I can't really say much about it. But there are quite a few front-end programs for MySQL. PHPMyAdmin is pretty good and there is a non-web-based program that I have tried that completey escapes me at the moment.
  5. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004
    There's also OpenOffice 2.0, which has an Access clone based on OpenBase. I haven't used it, but if it's a clone of Access, it might be close enough to MS Works to make a shallower learning curve.

    And if he's comfortable working with classic, it shouldn't be a huge problem to work with X11.

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