Database Program?

in Mac Software edited January 2014
Hello All,

The question I am posing is really pushing the limits of my computer knowlege, but here goes.

As part of a project for work, I am looking to create a very simple database of sorts with approximately 6-8 (text) fields which would:

--be searchable

--accessable by multiple users on a Novell network for text entry and searching

The model/idea that I am using was originally created using Microsoft Access.

So here's are my question:

What's the best (i.e. simplest and easy-to-use) database program for Mac that might also allow the final product to be used on a Windows-based Novell network?

Was wondering if such a thing could be created in HTML since that would be "universal". I know next-to-nothing about databases. I am guessing that if I want to tackle this, I'll need to use a Windows program to do so. (But now that I'm approaching my 1-year anniversary as a Windows==>Mac switcher, it pains me to think about doing so...

Thanks for your thoughts!


  • Reply 1 of 10
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    FileMaker is an easy-to-use, highly scalable app that is also cross-platform. It is the most popular DBMS on the Mac and the second most popular on Windows.
  • Reply 2 of 10
    argeliusargelius Posts: 309member
    I was going to start a new thread, but thought, perhaps, my questions might fit in this thread.

    Here's my situation:

    I am in need of a database solution to assist me with the following situation.

    I work in a hospital laboratory. We are inspected once every two years by an organization that uses "checklists" which are basically questions like, "How do you handle XYZ issue?" We currently have this information compiled in a bunch of different paper manuals spread out across the laboratory.

    I want to be able to put on our network a database that includes the following information:

    [1] The checklist item (question); this would be static (i.e. it would only be changed/updated by the database administrator)

    [2] The number (identifier) of the checklist item (also a static item)

    [3] The answer to the item; this would be a field that can be edited by a number of different users.

    [4] The person/employee assigned to the checklist (ideally with a drop-down box listing all the possibilities

    [5] A checkbox indicating if the item has been completed/answered.l

    [6] The area of the lab that the checklist pertains to (i.e. hematology, microbiology, etc).

    The fields would need to be searchable (so a list of all items pertaining to a particular area could be found).

    I'm thinking this is, possibly, relatively easy, since the database won't need to pull data from any other program.I ain't no programmer, but love messing with things. I am probably in over my head with this one, but we'll see.

    The real kicker in this is that I want to do this on my Mac and allow it to be placed on a Novell (Windows) network.

    So, if anyone up until this point is still reading this,

    [1] Can a FileMaker database be exported to a database that would work in Excel? (The hospital has Excel, not FileMaker).

    [2] If the above wouldn't work, would I be able to create a FileMaker database on my Mac that would then run on Filemaker for Windows installed on the network?


  • Reply 3 of 10
    1337_5l4xx0r1337_5l4xx0r Posts: 1,558member
    I'd recommend MySQL... it is platform-agnostic, fast, and has tons of online support as it is very widely used. It also integrates very nicely with PHP, a programming language you can use to make apps that interact with the database that run on any platform with a web browser (linux mac windows etc etc).

    Both PHP and MySQL are free. In fact I think PHP is included in OS X.4 along with Apache (PHP is a module for Apache)

    If either of you are interested in learning more post here so I know.
  • Reply 4 of 10
    kenaustuskenaustus Posts: 890member
    I understand that you can export a FileMaker database into an Excel spreadsheet using XML. You might check through a user manual at the local bookstore to see if it suits your needs.
  • Reply 5 of 10
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member

    Originally posted by Argelius

    I was going to start a new thread, but thought, perhaps, my questions might fit in this thread.

    Here's my situation:


    Your needs seem to be very simple. FileMaker should have no problems meeting them. Heck, the AppleWorks database component can probably do what you want. And, of course, the Windows version of FileMaker can handle the Mac version's files.
  • Reply 6 of 10
    argeliusargelius Posts: 309member
    Thanks a bunch for your detailed, thouhgtful responses. I'm a physician by trade, but a computer geek at heart, so I love the challenge of learning a new program. So I might just give this a try...

    Now the real challenge will be to get the hospital to buy the additional 5 or so licenses...
  • Reply 7 of 10
    toweltowel Posts: 1,479member
    It sounds like your database would be simple enough that it could also be easily implemented as a web application. A front page with three buttons for viewing, editing, and admin access. Use HTML forms to handle editing, and a simple display script to format the contents for searching and viewing. You could use some sort of authentication to control access (many institutions have arrangements for this sort of thing, using email IDs; or you can roll your own with .htaccess files on the webserver). A button on the "view" form could link to a script that dumps the entire contents of the database out as tab-delimited text for importing into Excel. You could use MySQL to store the data on the backend, but for what you're talking about that might be overkill. Simple text files might do just as well, and would be much easier to manipulate. If you know a little HTML and a little Perl/PHP/Ruby/whatever, you could probably hack something together in a weekend that does exactly what you want, and save your hospital the FileMaker licenses.

    Incidentally, this is also exactly the sort of thing that "Ruby on Rails" was designed to do, absolutely painlessly. It auto-generates most of the code you need for simple viewing, editing, and database access. If you don't have any experience with a scripting language, and want to learn something new, useful, and very cool, check out the book "Agile Web Development with Rails". Follow the tutorial, but instead of making a web store, make your database. You'll be amazed.
  • Reply 8 of 10
    argeliusargelius Posts: 309member
    Thanks, Towel!

    In the meantime I was thinking that a database might even be overkill, since in reality this is largely a text document that could be accessed via a series of I was thinking I might be able to do all of this by creating an HTML document/website.

    BUT...since ideally a number of people (probably around 6) would need to be able to add information to a single field that would then be viewable by others (sort of like a blog or forum). I'm not sure how this can be accomplished by little ole me using RapidWeaver or some other simple HTML editor...
  • Reply 9 of 10
    1337_5l4xx0r1337_5l4xx0r Posts: 1,558member
    DB's are not THAT hard to use, and you can edit their contents via a PHP interface in a web browser. Trying to fudge a flat text file to do what DBs are designed to do seems like a waste of time, to me at least.

    There is a plethora of free databases, tutorials, documentation, etc. You can post for help on these boards, as well. Your mac already has Apache and PHP installed.
  • Reply 10 of 10
    toweltowel Posts: 1,479member

    Originally posted by 1337_5L4Xx0R

    Trying to fudge a flat text file to do what relational DBs are designed to do seems like a waste of time, to me at least.

    I think you forgot a word. Relational databases do what they do extremely well, and save you a ton of time re-implementing relational logic in your own code. They're ideal for storing large amounts of rarely-accessed relational data. But if all you want to do is store and edit a modest-sized file, often, then store and edit the file. Life is a lot simpler - and a LOT faster.

    I know these arguments change as the requirements do - it's faster to load a 10KB file into memory every access than to do a simple SQL query on 10KB of data, but things might be different at 100MB. Different again for a very complex SQL query. And while writing one SQL query is faster than writing relational code in Perl/Ruby/C/whatever. if you're doing a ton of predictable relational queries, repetivively, you can speed execution a few orders of magnitude by moving the relational logic inside a program. Different strokes for different folks, but for a small collection of data with a few static fields, a relational DB is probably complex overkill. In my opinion.
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