Database/Contacts/Adress Book Software
Database/Contacts/Adress Book Software
Dec 11, 2013
For the fellow business owners out there- What software do you use as your database for contacts & addresses? I used to use Now Contact, but it doesn’t works with OS X Mavericks. I’m looking for Mac based software and ideally will sync with iPhone. Something more advanced than Mac’s Address Book. Does anyone use Daylite, FileMaker or VIPorbit? Any Pros/Cons of these softwares? Also, I don't want to use a software that I have to pay monthly for. Thanks!
I've been using FileMaker Pro for 2 decades or so—don't know about the other applications you mentioned. I also used to use Now Contacts and Touchbase, but my own apps in FileMaker almost 20 years ago and have been using them since.
FileMaker's extremely powerful and you can do almost anything with it. But with that power and versatility comes a rather steep learning curve if you want to go beyond the basics. I use FileMaker Pro Advanced so I can create application versions of my solutions, which can be useful.
Pros for FileMaker itself:
- Cross-platform: the packaged license allows installations on both Mac and Windows (which is one reason I use it). Also, the iOS app is free. I use ChronoSync to sync databases among my Macs and iTunes for the iOS devices. Works well.
- Comes with a lot of starter solutions and other goodies that make it feel more approachable for beginners. FileMaker's worked hard over the years to simplify the design process, but you still need to learn a lot.
- Very easy to create and modify database structures on-the-fly if needed. You can add/remove fields, change the way fields are calculated, change layouts, change relationships, etc., very freely as long as you understand what you're doing.
- You can create a calendar that does much more than TouchBase (or Apple's calendar) do, but it takes a bit of work.
- You can create an incredibly capable contacts manager (and even link it to your calendar), but it takes a bit of work.
- You can make your solutions look and act like "real" programs, and also make them work the way you want them to—I love this usability feature. I've basically been able to evolve my databases significantly without significantly changing the way I interact with them. But you need to think very carefully about what you want the solution to do—and how—and then learn how to do it with FileMaker.
- Fields are very easy to create and can hold a huge variety of data. "Container" fields can hold things like images and PDF documents. I haven't yet found a kind of data for which a field type doesn't exist. This is very nice. You can also have fields calculated based on other fields or variables—your own skills really determine most of the limits.
- Printing/reporting options are excellent. Early on, FileMaker was marketed as simply a labeling program.
- There's a bit of coding to learn. FileMaker is different from other "programming environments" I've seen. It's sort of an odd hybrid between object-based and language based. If you're already a programmer, I don't know how much your experience might help or hinder you as you learn FileMaker. But once you learn it, it's very nice to use.
- You can only install on two machines (not counting iOS, which falls under normal App Store rules).
- You'll need to maintain your 'solution' yourself. If FileMaker needs to be updated to accommodate a new OS version, you may need to buy an update to FileMaker (not cheap) and then do any modifications to your databases as needed. This means that you have to keep on top of FileMaker.
- You'll have to debug your own solution, which can be non-trivial. Sometimes FileMaker updates require important changes to your solution, although they've been very good about those since about FileMaker 8 (FileMaker 7 was a disaster that broke a lot of things).
- There aren't a lot of books available, although there's some good documentation of you search for it.
- Lastly, with FileMaker 13, they've started offering rentals like everyone else. So now you've got the choice of old-style licenses or monthly rentals. I haven't looked into rental details, but I'm getting concerned that they may stop offering traditional packages.
I absolutely love FileMaker and highly recommend it, but I also want to set your expectations appropriately—you'll have some work to do if you want to create something sophisticated with it.
Does this help to get you started?