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Replacing FileMaker with Free Software?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the s/proprietary/open-source/ dept.

Databases 445

jhealy1024 asks: "I'm looking for a way to replace our FileMaker DB solution with an open-source RDBMS. Problem is, FileMaker's GUI and report design tools are pretty darn good, and I can't find a suitable replacement. Anybody out there have a solution that doesn't require me to take a year off to hand-code a replacement solution?""I'm the netadmin for a small private school. Since we're Mac-based, we've grown up storing all our data in FileMaker, including student information, grades, class assignments, gifts, inventory tracking, and just about anything else you can think of.

FileMaker is coming out with version 7, which is going to require us to tear all our databases to pieces and build them up again from scratch. While the new FileMaker is an improvement, it's still a toy as far as "real" databases go. (The latest update just introduced relational tables, for example). Also, data lock-in is becoming a problem; I'd like to have access to all our data from non-FileMaker interfaces (to populate our LDAP directory, for example). While we can work an export from FileMaker, it would be much better if the data were available in an open, standard database instead.

I figure, so long as we're rebuilding everything from scratch for version 7, why not use a "real" RDBMS (no flames about which, please). Problem is, FileMaker does two things very well:

  1. Rapid development of front-end data entry screens (using a GUI for layout)
  2. Ability to create printable layouts for reporting (mail merges, report cards, etc)
I can program data entry screens myself if I had to (either on the web or on the clients directly), but the printable layouts would kill me. Does anybody know of any package that will allow me to replicate FileMaker's easy interface for use with a RDBMS package such as PostgreSQL or MySQL?

Thus far, the only solution I've found is to use some kind of SQL access plug-in for FileMaker. This way, I get to keep the FileMaker interface but ditch its lousy relational model. Unfortunately, I'd still have to pay for FileMaker, and the SQL plug-in requires tons of extra coding to pass the data from FileMaker to SQL and back again.

I know other people have had to move from small, proprietary systems (FileMaker, Access, etc) before; what have you done to keep the simple user interface alive?"

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Filemaker Pro Migration software (4, Informative)

The I Shing (700142) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120309)

Let me be the first to suggest FileMaker Pro Migrator [] by .com Solutions. I mucked about with the trial version of the program and it does look like it accomplishes quite a bit. And I guess that once you've got the data moved over, you could use a program like Dreamweaver [] to tweak the web-based interface.

Re:Filemaker Pro Migration software (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120387)

I'd say nix Dreamweaver and go with something not as restrictive. Dreamweaver is a fine product, but they go a little overboard with the anti-piracy measures.

Re:Filemaker Pro Migration software (2, Informative)

jessedh (751527) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120406)

I am facing a simliar problem and for the interim we used Access for the front end and a SQL server for the back. Since MS distributed the Access runtime for free, we can minimize deployment costs. I believe you can just add ODBC references for MySQL to Access to hold the data. This is a descent solution in a LAN environment. If you have any remote location that don't access via Terminal server or Citrix pulling any data across will be painful.

Re:Filemaker Pro Migration software (2, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120725)

Could you please post a link to the free access runtime. I didn't know such a thing was out there.

Does this mean I can write access applications and distribute them to anybody I like for free? If so that's way too cool. I bet I can convince my company to stop paying for access on every desktop just to use a stupid application written by an employee.

Re:Filemaker Pro Migration software (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120753)

Is there an MS Access binary distro for MACs?

First Post!!!! (-1, Troll)

guitaristx (791223) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120316)


DIY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120326)

I think you'd be best off writing your own stuff. MySQL + PHP.

Re:DIY (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120460)

Totally... in fact, depending on what you are doing, there are loads of MySQL+PHP projects out there that may already fit your needs.

Re:DIY (4, Insightful)

danheskett (178529) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120495)

Why is that everyone in the FOSS community always wants EVERYTHING to be a web-based application.

Is it so hard to imagine that some people really want application state, a really responsive UI, the ability to work with data without many round-trips to the server, etc?

Web-apps are nice, but geez, they aren't the frigging holy grail!

Re:DIY (5, Informative)

Nos. (179609) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120592)

There's a couple of reasons why (and its not just the FOSS community). The first is compatibility. I won't go into all the browser compatibility issues, but its easier to create a web page that works on multiple OS's than it is to create a desktop based application. Secondly, portability. A web based application means I can work from anywhere I have an internet connection. Now that's not to say a desktop application can't do the same thing.

In my experience (even if you're developing for a standard desktop environment) web based apps can be build faster. Then of course there's the issue of upgrades. Its easier to upgrade/update a website than multiple client machines.

Re:DIY (1)

97cobra (89974) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120606)

I've been harping on this for years !!!!

Re:DIY (1)

bman08 (239376) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120625)

They are, however, easy. The reason they're being suggested is because that's what's out there and available for free.

Re:DIY (3, Insightful)

br0ck (237309) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120646)

They're looking for a new Web-based replacement for their existing Web-based application that was built in FileMaker--a web design product.

The grandparent is not suggesting replacing a desktop solution with a Web-based solution,

Re:DIY (4, Insightful)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120679)

Well for one, if the tool is data driven, it just makes more sense to have the database on ONE SERVER rather than as part of an app that you have to store on a million different boxes and then update constantly. Second, one easy interface that everyone can reach and access make it easier to maintain.

Also, everyone is familiar with the web, the way it works and how to get things done. They don't have to figure out whatever GUI you develop for the tool.

It's portable as well as long as you have a connection.

For database driven apps, it's pretty much the best way to go.

Re:DIY w/ PHP-GTK! (0)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120759)

Web-apps are nice, but geez, they aren't the frigging holy grail!

That's what PHP-GTK [] is for! :)

Re:DIY (2, Interesting)

Zemplar (764598) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120484)

I'd second this motion.

I've only been using MySQL for about a month from first downloading it, and have been quite impressed. Learn a system like this, and you'll have a great long-term solution. There are quite a few GUI based tools to make administration of MySQL relatively painless, but don't expect that you won't need to read up some.

Re:DIY (1)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120494)

Amen. My Help Desk needed a operations monitoring/backup tape/outage tracking solution. I rolled it myself. The outage reports are a bit homely, but printable, and the PHB's are happy.

Re:DIY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120585)

... but he specifically said he wanted an RDBMS.

Re:DIY (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120588)

You would also be better served say away from MySQL... its nice for quick dirty stuff... like blogs and what not. But if for any intensive DB needs, and your not locked in to MySQL then STAY A WAY!

Re:DIY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120686)

this is bullshit.

care to explain?

Re:DIY (3, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120600)

I think you'd be best off writing your own stuff. MySQL + PHP.
Did you miss this part?
"Anybody out there have a solution that doesn't require me to take a year off to hand-code a replacement solution?"

Re:DIY (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120684)

I think you'd be best off writing your own stuff. PostgreSQL + Perl

There, I fixed it for you.

Re:DIY (5, Insightful)

BrynM (217883) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120691)

I think you'd be best off writing your own stuff. MySQL + PHP
This answer irks me. You know, people always mention this, but have you ever attempted to do it? Just "sit down and code a web based version in a weekend" type stuff is horribly unrealistic. First, coding a secure and bug free PHP version of some app your coworkers have used forever is a bitch. Everyone wants their ideas implemented, people refuse to work because you haven't "trained" them yet, managers are (rightly) aftraid of you building it and then being hit by a truck tomorrow... This is not just some hodge-podge personal website to be coded on your own terms. Finally, this guy is probably not a PHP programmer and it's silly for you to assume he is.

People usually ask these kinds of "ask slashdot" questions because they can't just sit down and roll their own. They are looking for genuine alternatives. Answers like this are akin to "You don't like your Ford? Just get a welding torch and some grease and make your own car..." A better answer would have been to point him to some coding resources directly related to what he's trying to do if you really wanted to provide an answer like "If you use such and such implemented in PHP, you'll be able to consider coding your own solution." Any moron can just say "make your own" without knowing what that really involves.

Re:DIY (4, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120722)


Rather than porting all that existing work, or seeking migration tools, just reinvent the fricking wheel. Waste your companies time fixing something that "aint broke". And use the weakest components available.

Next year rewrite it for Ruby+Firebird, the year after that, rewrite it for PostgreSQL+Perl. Waste as much time rewriting your app every time OSS nerds pick a new favorite scripting language or database engine.

Sheesh. And you wonder why you FOSS slashbots are unemployed.

Recode for Filemaker 7 (4, Informative)

skrysakj (32108) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120329)

If you ask me, recoding the database for Filemaker 7 would be much easier
than going to another system/platform/application.

The improvements in Filemaker 7 are vast, and much needed. It's a great platform, and unbeatable unless you move to a PostgreSQL&Web platform, which would require a lot more re-tooling.
Look into a possible Filemaker 6 to Filemaker 7 conversion tool.

In the future, if you truly need to use a different interface, such as the web, Filemaker is very capable of supporting that on its own, when placed on a server, without a SQL-access plug-in.

Re:Recode for Filemaker 7 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120447)

I should point out for the sake of accuracy that FileMaker has been relational since version 3. The relational capabilities have been improved significantly for version 7, but one to many and many to many have been possible for about ten years now.

Re:Recode for Filemaker 7 (0)

leandrod (17766) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120578)

FileMaker has been relational since version 3

I take it to mean 'partially ISO SQL compliant'. SQL isn't relational. The ISO standard doesn't even use the 'relational' word.

Re:Recode for Filemaker 7 (4, Insightful)

Smokin Goat McGruff (19225) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120477)

I'm not sure anything needs to be redone for FMP 7. It should open and convert your existing files. Of course they won't take advantage of any new features of 7, but the effort will be minimal. What's in the best interests of the school? Paying you to rebuild their existing tools from scratch or keeping the existing and easy stuff around? Are you looking for job security here?

Re:Recode for Filemaker 7 (5, Insightful)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120750)

Ditto the parent.

I've created some horribly complicated db's in FileMaker. The kind that become huge systems as end users ask for lots of little parts to be added over the years.

FM7 converted all of those with only minor issues. Usually just GUI issues.

Re:Recode for Filemaker 7 (0, Troll)

SQLz (564901) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120739)

Well, I'm glad the marketing folks from FileMaker decided to grace us with a reply. Thanks!

im cool (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120330)

im cool (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120336)

Re: (2, Insightful)

skrysakj (32108) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120454)

Thanks, Lorenz Textor and I need to work on this some more. time is always the issue though. (PS. Anyone who has suggestions, fire them away. CocoaMySQL needs supporters)

Anyways, as I commented before, this guys should stick with Filemaker 7. It *finally* has a lot of the same features as MySQL/PostgreSQL, so why leave it now? Especially when he has already a lot of work done in Filemaker 6 and prior. It would make no sense.

Re: (5, Informative)

Shayde (189538) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120493)

This is unfortunately not what they're looking for. There are any number of 'SQL front ends' - that let you do basically all the functions that a MySQL user can do from the command line. What this doesn't give you is a customziable front end with linked forms, back end processing, and data verification. YOu want to present the user base with a native, comfortable look and feel.

Others have recommended web-based solutions wth PHP, which are okay, but are difficult to maintain for the non-PHP literate.

Perhaps something like Rekall [] from theKompany would do it? It's not free, but it's a lot less expensive than most of the commercial front ends out there. It supports MySQL, is multi-platform, and has forms and front end scripting (using Python I believe).

Re: (4, Informative)

sysadmn (29788) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120523)

Not a very "informative" answer, given that this tool is for database adminstrators, and doesn't seem to do either of the specific tasks the poster requested. Not a knock against cocoamysql, it looks pretty cool.

Re: (4, Informative)

UNIX_Meister (461634) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120525)

I think there's something here that is escaping most of the /. readers. Filemaker has a nice GUI for creating applications - RAD type functionality. We're not talking about a GUI to manage a mysql database. I'd like to be able to create an application that uses a database backend quickly. Something like Oracle Forms & Reports of old, or Access, or ??? Think "glade" + "mysql/postgresql" + perl's report writing

I've been looking for something like this in the OSS world for years, and in that time, like the author of the article, could have written one.

Re: (0)

bobbozzo (622815) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120758)

OpenOffice supposedly has something similar to Access.

There's an old saying... (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120352)

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If FileMaker has been good for your school, don't worry about replacing it with a "real" database. Many people don't need all the features of a "real" database, and all they'd get is more complexity and possibility of failure.

Re:There's an old saying... (5, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120403)

Absolutely. At some point you have to decide whether you're in the education business, or in the software design and support business. I would stick with the solution that everybody already knows - even going through an upgrade, you'll be so much further ahead faster than you would be by throwing it all out and starting over. You know FileMaker's quirks, after all - and believe me, everything has 'em, so knowing one set well is a good place to be.

Re:There's an old saying... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120441)

and job security

Exactly (3, Interesting)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120549)

Hammer meet Nail. But sir, I'm Screw.

Overkill isn't necessary, a quick, stable, and workable solution is.

Also I'd be inclined to know the posters skill level. Simply saying "I'm going to re-implement this system" is vastly different than saying "I know how to re-implement this in a better manner, any suggestions?". I get the feeling the poster may not have the necessary understanding of moving a simple project to a significantly more sophisticated design.

Or I could be completely wrong as my wife frequently points out.

Re:There's an old saying... (1)

Dissenter (16782) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120666)

Uh did you miss where he said that he was getting lock problems? That means he's outgrown it and it is "broke."

Re:There's an old saying... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120716)

Mod parent +5 funny. The actual quote was: "Also, data lock-in is becoming a problem." He already stated that the SQL Access component could solve this.

Re:There's an old saying... (4, Informative)

qengho (54305) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120741)

Uh did you miss where he said that he was getting lock problems? That means he's outgrown it and it is "broke."

He said "data lock-in", meaning "proprietary", not "lock" as in "data contention".

web-based (3, Informative)

stipe42 (305620) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120355)

Web based really is the way to go. The tools are there for it (PHP for interface, MySQL or PostGres for the database, PDFLib or something free for reports). I don't know of any packages that already do that though. At work we are replacing our contact management system (in Filemaker presently) with one built in JSP with an Oracle backend. That same app is being sold to clients as well.

Re:web-based (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120411)

What the parent said. A few years ago, I talked my company into migrating from FileMaker (v.5, at the time) to a PHP/MySQL/PDFLib setup. (Save the PHP vs. Perl vs. Python and MySQL vs. PostgreSQL flames, please; this setup works for us, handling hundreds of thousands of dollars of business per month, and very nicely, too.) No, there's no one tool for such a setup that will replicate everything FileMaker does -- but the flexibility you gain is more than worth it in the end.

Re:web-based (2, Insightful)

metacosm (45796) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120439)

Web based is not that way to go. Let me quote the question poster...

"""I can program data entry screens myself if I had to (either on the web or on the clients directly), but the printable layouts would kill me. Does anybody know of any package that will allow me to replicate FileMaker's easy interface for use with a RDBMS package such as PostgreSQL or MySQL? """

The bottom line is -- for "type-setting" browsers are GOD AWFUL -- they barely ( and badly ) support putting a header on each printed page via goofy CSS --- for the print media world, browsers are pathetically behind. He would end up laying out everything by hand, and have to tweak it for each printer -- *bah* -- god awful -- then if a new version of firefox/internet explorer comes out that thinks it should draw the table 1 pixel to the left -- broken again.

I would look for some conversation tool as some other posters have mentioned.

Web based software is great for a ton of projects, possibly even the majority of projects -- but for type-setting documents, it is just about the worst thing.

Re:web-based (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120565)

That's what PDF is for.

Re:web-based (1)

bogado (25959) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120571)

I think he sujested a pdf generating library in the mix, so I'm guessing that the printed media would be pdf and not html/css.

Re:web-based (2, Interesting)

stipe42 (305620) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120620)

That's why I suggested using PDFLib or something free if you can get your hands on it. Anything you want printed you make a PDF of on the fly. This is functionally identical to FileMaker or Access having GUI screens separated from 'reports' which are formatted nicely for printing.

Re:web-based (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120631)

Though the browser printing issues you describe are real, I don't think they're the ones everyone else has in mind. The PDFLib part of these solutions means that for print, they are using the web application to generate PDF directly. Nothing to do with web browsers rendering html.

The real problem is that programming reports in PDFLib (or one of its many competitors, some Free) can be a little complex. There's no GUI layout helper, like Filemaker or Access has -- drawing a rectangle is a statement in PHP code, not a drag of your mouse.

what about me then? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120361)

Anybody out there have a solution that doesn't require me to take a year off to hand-code a replacement solution?"

Hmmm, you can pay me to program one for a year :)

What we do in Access (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120375)

Is create an Access Data Project that links to the OLEDB/ODBC data source, thus pulling in the tables and keeping the Access interface. This works because we're already paying for Access anyway as part of our standard office build. I'm kind of surprised that File Maker doesn't offer something similar- Access has *so* many ways of doing this in comparison.

Re:Access (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120554)

Access Professional also comes bundled with a tool to create a stand-alone executable for use with the databases. You don't have to pay for licensing on this executable. The database design also cannot be modified using it, and for a deployment situation that's probably a good thing.

well... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120382)

How about some details about why you need it replaced(unless price is the only problem ?) Because you just gave us the points that make FileMaker good...what's wrong with it ?

Servoy (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120388)

Servoy is from the creators of the Filemaker SQL plugin. It uses ANY sql backend but provides a gui front end (100% java) just like filemaker. Real easy to setup and use.

Re:Servoy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120582)

Somebody has mentioned Servoy to me before, and I was really impressed with the features listed on their web site. I have evaluated the latest version of Servoy a couple of months ago, and unfortunately it is very buggy.

FileMaker Rocks (2, Interesting)

Walrus99 (543380) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120399)

Been using FileMaker for our office for six years. Easy learning curve, easy (more or less) to use web interface. Tried MySQL and PHP but the learning curve was too steep for now. Not sure how 7 will be, but on 6 now and its working great. Now does anyone out there want to help me enter 500 city contacts? Whatever you use, you still have to do data entry.

PHP/MySQL (3, Interesting)

viperone (648580) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120410)

I'll agree with the PHP/MySQL option. Our University did everything using ColdFusion against an oracle db, php/mysql is actually better to script in (if you dont need the scalability of oracle) and we already had an oracle db for other things anyway.

Re:PHP/MySQL (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120671)

Dunno about your ColdFusion comments though. I code both PHP and CF and find that my speed using CF is WAY faster than PHP, and it has much better XML and Web Services support (although PHP5 supposedly has gotten a lot better with XML support).

It depends on what I'm doing though. If it's internal, I recommend CF - the server cost covers itself quite quickly. If I'm billing I recommend PHP so I get extra hours billing :)

But yeah, I find Oracle much more complex than any other RDBS such as MSSQL, Sybase ASE, MySQL or PostgreSQL...

hard work, me boy! (2, Funny)

east coast (590680) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120419)

Anybody out there have a solution that doesn't require me to take a year off to hand-code a replacement solution

You know, if you work twice as hard it will only take you 6 months to create your own homegrown solution.

Re:hard work, me boy! (3, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120544)

But thats the beauty, and the downside of Open Source/free solutions.

This guy is asking for our experiences, and pointers to locate a piece of code already written which will fulfill his requirements.

This is similar in a way to slashdot dupes, and patent prior art. If he reproduces code which already exists, then hes wasted 12 months doing something completely redundant.

Hopefully one of us will be able to suggest a path to an acceptable solution to his problem.

As it happens with this one, my thinking is "if it ain't broke...".

Re:hard work, me boy! (1)

theparanoidcynic (705438) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120547)

I have a better idea. Many of your students are probably baby hackers. Let them code it. They'll get "paid" by having the opportunity to leave themselves a grade-change backdoor.

Re:hard work, me boy! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120613)

Stop signing your posts, asshole. We can read the username up top if we care who posted.

Re:hard work, me boy! (-1, Troll)

killjoe (766577) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120683)

No no no. You missed the point of the post. He wants something for free to replace something he paid money for.

He wants a handout not a to do list.

won't find a faster/easier to use option (4, Insightful)

kpharmer (452893) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120448)

In spite of the fact that Filemaker Pro isn't a 'real database' - it's developed a well-earned reputation for being a quick & effective tool.

I'd stick with it unless you've got some genuine objectives/requirements that exceed its capabilities.

If you can't afford the licensing costs (which are modest), and have quite a lot of time on your hands - then there are a wealth of options. I personally like php/python + postgresql. But none of these options will match the development ease of filemaker pro. You'll be kissing that goodbye.

Possible Alternative (4, Informative)

nigmafyre (316209) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120469)

I have had good luck using MicroOLAP Database Designer for MySQL [] . Granted its not opensource, but its super easy to use. One quirk that I haven't sorted out with it is proper quotation of 'enum' and 'set' fields in its generated SQL. But, that being said, its still a slick interface.

dungeons & dragons is for getting laid! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120475)

i'm summoning a sperm elemental on that bitch!

GLOM! (5, Informative)

tempest303 (259600) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120489)

How about Glom [] ?

It has a nice, clean GTK interface, and uses PostgreSQL for its backend.

Good luck!

Re:GLOM! (2, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120695)

From the website:

This is not stable or tested. It might completely destroy your data. I offer no guarantees and accept no responsibility.

Not quite ready for a prime time production solution.

Re:GLOM! (4, Insightful)

Bronster (13157) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120735)

I guess you missed the part where printing was the main reason to keep filemaker or something like it. From the website:

Development is at an early stage, so it's not a complete database solution yet. The following future functionality should complete it:

* Virtual view fields (e.g. 'show the current price of this product in this field').
* Printing
* Reports

Re:GLOM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120756)

UMMM! Are you sure you want to recommend a solution where the author states " This is not stable or tested. It might completely destroy your data"? Not a good idea, I'm thinking.

No OSS GUI database ide's - linux/oss shortcomings (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120499)

Why is it that there are none. On Windows you have Access, Alpha5, Filemaker and others. On OSX you have Filemaker. Why is that? I maintain it's because:
1. XWindows sucks
2. Which graphic libraries - TOO much choice
3. Multiple versions (flavors make linux unattractive as a commercial platform)
4. OSS developers wouldn't know good GUI design if it bit them in the ass.
5. OSS developers only care about making something they like, whereas commercial software vendors have to produce something a customer will like.

That's all I can think of right now, feel free to add on.

also looking for easy, open src forms layout tool (5, Informative)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120530)

The meat of the article's question, which hasn't been addressed in the replies yet at least: is there an open source tool that makes generating forms (web based I would hope) as easy as you can do this in formmaker or access? For instance, is there a tool I can use to rapidly create data input screens with data validation or quickly throw together some screens that run queries with screen formatted results? The backend shouldn't matter too much, there are plenty of great open source tools to store and query data, but what about the user interface side? So far I haven't found a good solution that doesn't require manual html/php/perl/etc coding. (Not that I won't do that if I have too, but I'd rather have something more like ms access if it exists in open source, even if it's not as polished). any ideas?

Stop, drop and roll (3, Informative)

joshmccormack (75838) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120532)

I've worked with Filemaker a fair amount, and moved apps over to web based systems with other databases.

The most recent versions of Filemaker, when treated just right, may be a blessing, but in my experience Filemaker just doesn't scale well. After you've started really putting a lot of data in there it creeps. It is it's own thing, too, so you can't use standard database modeling, reporting, etc. And hosting is an issue.

The impending new version might just be your occasion to stop, drop Filemaker, and roll your own.

Finding a tool to move the data and structure over is tempting, but consider whether the database structure you have is a good one, and if all your data is normalized. This would be a good opportunity to work on that, if you'd be moving to another system anyway.

And try thinking using the Unix philosophy. Use differnt tools. Use a database to store the data, use an off the shelf reporting tool (ie crystal reports) if you want, use Access or Filemaker to allow clients to make custom views, use modeling tools, etc.

Contact me if you want sympathy or some help. (0)

siyavash (677724) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120536)

fucking assholes, see this u morons :

god damn linux idiots.

Why shift at all? (3, Insightful)

doodlelogic (773522) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120550)

FileMaker is coming out with version 7, which is going to require us to tear all our databases to pieces and build them up again from scratch.

While any new features may be a bonus, if a program makes it so difficult to switch, and the current version does the job well (as you seem to suggest) I have to ask, why bother?

Look for the answer that's the least hassle...

Rekall Revealed GPL (4, Informative)

wackysootroom (243310) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120552)

Rekall Revealed [] (GPL verson of thekompany's rekall product) can do all that, connect to PgSQL and MySQL, while using python as the language backend. Very nice, *and* Free Software.

Re:Rekall Revealed GPL (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120645)

Rekall looks looks real nice. Do you have real word experience with it? It actually looks like a contender for access replacement with a better programming language. If it works then it's the best kept secret in open source.

Re:Rekall Revealed GPL (1)

jd142 (129673) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120658)

I just wish there was a free windows version.

There's also the KDE based Kexi which, when it gets actually usable, looks to be sweet.

FMP conversion (1)

ibib (464750) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120569)

We're working with a client who has set up a pretty good system using Filemaker. This works great until they want to communicate with other databases (like MS SQL, MySQL etc) - which works, but is a pain.

FMP is a good product though, and you should really think twice about moving from the technology. Do you really have to?

If you really have to, I would recommend using PostgreSQL or another database which uses more of the SQL-standard than MySQL. Of course it is easy to create some kind of solution with PHP/MySQL, but consider other technologies too. And especially - can other technologies offer the ease of use for development and user that FMP do? If so, and you see that you have a real need for migration - go ahead. But plan ahead, because some of the things which is FMP's strengths could be hard to do with other technologies.

Note that I don't really like FMP, just recognizes that it - at times, is a good technology.

The real problem (3, Informative)

howardjp (5458) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120577)

The real problem this user has is one I have had. There is no suitable replacement for Access, FileMaker, or dBase. An open-source portable replacement would be a killer app for the open source community, but it just isn't there.

Re:The real problem (1)

howardjp (5458) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120603)

And forgive me for replying to myself, but I should make it clear. The world would be perfect if it were a part of the OpenOffice suite.

take a year off vs. pay for FM7 ?!?! (4, Insightful)

sjf (3790) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120590)

Anybody out there have a solution that doesn't require me to take a year off to hand-code a replacement solution?

Thus far, the only solution I've found [...] Unfortunately, I'd still have to pay for FileMaker,

You must either be paid exceptionally badly or deploying a huge number of FileMaker licenses if a year of your salary is a realistic alternative to upgrading to FM7.

This is not a complicated decision. Millions of businesses make similar decisions every day. Consider:

1. Do I need to upgrade at all ?

2. If so, WHY. (Answer this question, and you are done.)

- Do you need new features offered by FM7.

- Do you need features offered by some other database.

- Do I just need a major migration project in order to justify my salary and my department's budget.

Really, if your FM6 solution works today - why bother ? Every other choice, including the Open Source ones, come at a cost. If it does not work then you need to do a cost/benefit analysis of the alternatives and explain to your managers why FM6 was chosen in the first place.


FileMaker, Access..etc. (1)

ninejaguar (517729) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120594)

This family of easy to use GUI painting reporting/form tools is missing in the Open Source world. If there are some light-weight alternatives, they're often not as powerful/flexible, or they're platform bound and may not be readily accessable.

It may be a while before a project is available that can replace FileMaker or Access.

= 9J =

It has always been relational.... (5, Informative)

greed (112493) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120597)

If you read the linked article [] on FileMaker's website, it says:

Now store multiple database tables in one file instead of having to break them up into multiple files.

I've been using FileMaker at home since it was made by Claris, back at version 3.0. It's always been relational. You build relations between files--one file is one table. Now you can have multiple tables in one file. And you can still build a relation to a table in another file, so you've got the best of both.

In fact, using the free demo of 3.0, I built a database with about 25 relations in it, entirely without the manual. Consequently, I was out to the store the next day and bought the real thing. I've upgraded to 5.0 and 7.0 since.

I'm not sure how much "re-writing" is required to upgrade, I just load all my databases from the old version into the new one and let it create new files in the current format. I've never had to change the database definitions.

(It would be nice to turn a couple of my DBs into a "single file with multiple tables", but hey, it works fine in multiple file mode, so like others say, why break it?)

There are times when it Would Be Nice to throw some really grotty SQL into the system. But they're fairly rare.

Relational tables a contradiction in terms (0, Offtopic)

leandrod (17766) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120598)

Tables are but a visual, partial, inacurate representation of relations. Tables aren't relational. A DBMS that implements tables as primary objects instead of as simple representations of relations isn't relational: case in point, SQL and therefore FileMaker.

Knoda (5, Interesting)

mpieters (149981) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120608)

I think Knoda [] sounds like an exact match. Feature list:

* define and delete databases;
* create, alter and delete tables and indices;
* add, change and delete data in tables;
* define, execute and store sql queries;
* define, execute and store queries with a "query by example" GUI;
* import and export CSV data;
* define and use forms;
* define and print reports; and
* write your own extensions using the integrated Python interpreter as scripting language

This is the Open Source equivalent of MS Access and Filemaker, except that it can use any database backend (native MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQLite support, plus ODBC). The report and form designers are full WYSIWYG GUIs, like the commercial counterparts.

Possible disadvantage? It requires KDE3, so it does require quite some extra bagage you don't normally find on a Mac OS X system, but it *should* work.

Maybe DBDesigner4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120615)

I've only dabbled with it a bit (and no doubt it is a little buggy) but dbdesiger4 ( has a plugin called simple web front. It generates the PHP code for you based on your tables / fields.

I've only toyed a bit and it worked - althought YMMV

Goooood Question!!!! What about Rekall? (1)

jeddak (12628) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120626)

A while back, Rekall - in conjunction with a sql database - looked like a potential open-source replacement for FileMaker and Access.

Has anyone here successfully ported a FMP database to Rekall + {MySQL|PostgreSQL|etc}?

Ref: []

Gnu Enterprise (2, Interesting)

MooCows (718367) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120635)

Gnu Enterprise [] might be just what you need.

It's not very 'complete', but very extensible.

Look at the pretty screenshots [] .

OpenOffice Database User Tools (1)

ramakant (256472) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120643)

I use OpenOffice Databse User Tools [] . It doesn't have all the great features of FileMaker, but serves as a pretty good alternative to that and MS Access. I think the Form AutoPilot and Report AutoPilot address the problems you're facing.

Rekall, OOo (2, Informative)

iantri (687643) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120660)

AFAIK, there are two semi-feasable choices:

Rekall (available in commercial or GPL licenses) is a MS-Access type thing -- it can hold a database in its own format and create forms and reports (like FileMaker) or you can connect it to an SQL server. Last time I tried it was in the v2.2x days, and it would crash just trying to open the demo database. That was on Linux, the Windows demo (NOT GPL) simply crashed before opening. Not good for a software that is supposed to be in its second major version. Maybe it has improved since, though. Not sure if there is a Mac version.

The other option is Openoffice. It has a database form and report mode, but you will need MySQL or PostgreSQL at the backend. Also, there is almost no documentation for it.

BLOB (1)

gninnor (792931) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120673)

Glom looks like a good start, but it is not mature enough for critical systems. The biggest problems that I have had with Filemaker is that it cannot easily transfer Binary Large Objects, "BLOBs", to other databases. Think school ID photo. For this you need to use visual basic or other tools. Good luck

Replacing FileMaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120680)

There are many open and closed source options. The two things I would recommend most on the commercial side are Servoy [] and WebObjects [] . WebObjects is, in my opinion, the best (and oldest) application server. Servoy, was designed to be what FileMaker Pro should be.

I used to be a FileMaker Pro developer. I hated it because it was so hacked together (from a developer perspective). When I saw Servoy, at MacWorld in January, I was very impressed. I wish I had seen it while I was working with FileMaker.

Done it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120685)

We actually created something like that at my last company, though it's not an "off the shelf" product and probably much more than you need, and not Mac compatible.

Our system was a multi-tiered system using distributed objects and Oracle or MS SQL databases. You could easily design forms and connect them to the database, and then there was an easy-to-use report builder.

It was actually a pretty amazing product. It had a bunch of other features, including really advanced security and validation, scripting, and so forth.

It's been several years since I worked for them and I've considered doing an open source version of it at some point, but it's a hell of a lot of work. The great thing about it was that you could throw together a basic, but complete business app in a day with it. We used to it to create custom apps for a number of clients in a variety of businesses.

School Management software (2, Informative)

wdtj (654004) | more than 10 years ago | (#10120707)

Our school Heritage Christian Academy ( has been using SchoolMinder for several years. It was nice but I think we've outgrown it. We're currently installing PowerSchool, an Apple product. Mail me off-list and I can get you more info. Yes, I thought about writing our own (with PHP and Postgres, no flames please), but the number of tables, queries, dialogs, reports etc was quickly growing to be beyond what one person could support. It's not as simple as some would think when you add in grading, attendance, transcripts, class scheduling... for 500 students.

Buy out rights to File Maker (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120720)

Buy out the rights to File Maker, take the source, and make it OSS.

Add what you lack.

Reporting from MySQL (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120730)

I am migrating some applications that I have created in Filemaker to MySQL/PHP, because of the increased flexibility. Reporting has been a problem, but DataVision ( is an excellent and easy to use tool. Runs in java, (1.4) so it works everywhere except MacOS 9. For that platform, I use an early version of Elixir Reports ( Elixir Reports is not free and buggy, but usable.

Rekall and knoda (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10120732)
http://www.knoda.o rg/

Both free and both viable options imho.

Also keep an eye out for kexi:

This looks like it will be really impressive. However, as it is still in early beta this probably isn't something for real world usage yet.
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