Through FileMaker Pro, Apple provides database power and convenience in a cross platform package that encourages customizable databases for businesses, but not for the masses. Bento, FileMaker’s foray into a more personal database product, failed, and when it did, personal Mac databases seems to have died, too. Almost. But not quite.
Not. Dead. Yet.
Very few Mac users build their own databases these days, despite the advent of plenty of powerful database tools that range from MySQL to PostgreSQL to FileMaker to 4D and others. What happened? Applications. Apps are the new personal database because they’re customized– not by the end-user or customer, but by app developers– to perform specific tasks.
Going completely against the grain of this 21st century trend toward applications is Records, a Mac database creator tool that does the basics of personal database development in a very Mac-like way.
Records starts out as if it’s 1983 by teasing Mac users with tantalizing options such as recipes, DVD collection lists, household bills, or customer invoices, despite the fact that such database apps already exist on iPhone and iPad, cost a few dollars at most, and don’t have to be designed and built.
Still, Records wants to pickup where Bento left off (just remember that the road less traveled is often less traveled for a good reason) with a WYSIWYG database creation and entry-form editor, configurable form fields, and built-in search options.
Mac users might want to learn how a database is constructed so I’m going to cut Records some slack. But not much– unless you want to learn about how to build a personal database. Records comes with modern OS X functions built-in; it’s done in Cocoa, uses Coed Data, fullscreen, and the interface is a pleasure to use and view.
The visual editor lets you customize the layout of entry forms; totally drag and drop. But the records are limited to databases that can handle tens of thousands of records, and though you don’t need experience building a database to use Records it won’t take you long to realize that whatever you build won’t be as good or as useful as what you could buy for the same money.
Unless you just want to learn how it’s done, and for that I recommend the developer’s 14-day try-before-you-buy trial version vs. forking over the money to the Mac App Store first. Just remember that Records has more merit as a database teaching aid which can be used to develop a specific, but limited database for personal needs. Personal databases for the Mac have all but died, and Bento might have been the last hurrah for an era of application that seemed to have great promise back in the 1980s but most Mac users today just don’t have the patience or understanding to build a database that fits only their needs.
Alright, that said, some Mac users have a need to design and build and user a custom database but don’t have either the experience, intestinal fortitude, or money to handle FileMaker Pro. So, think of Records as FileMaker Lite.