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     & PAINT




The most problematic area of conversion from AppleWorks is databases. The database module in AppleWorks is far more powerful than it looks at first sight, allowing the full range of field types - text, numbers, dates, calculation and so on - and multiple highly customisable layouts using a graphic interface. It's possible to run large and complex databases easily: its main restriction is that it is a flat-file, not relational, database, which may limit it for business users.

LibreOffice can now open at least some Database documents, which it does in the form of a spreadsheet. In order to transfer a Database into other programs you have to save it as ASCII text (or select all and copy your records and paste into a plain text document, which comes to the same thing). Obviously in the process all layouts, text formatting and calculations will be lost. There is no workaround for this: you can transfer data but you will have to build the database itself again from scratch.

There is really only one choice as a replacement: FileMaker Pro Advanced, now in version 19 and requiring OSX 10.14 minimum ($540 for an individual user). It's pretty well the industry standard; though another possibility is 4D which is highly powerful and complex ($389 basic, rising rapidly for advanced versions) - I've not looked at it in detail but it would seem to present a very steep learning curve including SQL. There are some Unix-based systems which are difficult to understand and use: and the free Office programs OpenOffice.org and its close relation NeoOffice both have much the same database module, which is again difficult to use and does not offer anything like the same flexibility with layouts/reports.

Provue have updated their older Panorama and Panorama Sheets databases to a new version, Panorama X. It runs on OSX 10.9 and higher and has a wide range of facilities. Pricing is based on usage, ranging from zero if you don't use it to $15 per month.

iData3 and its update iData Pro 4 is a basic but reasonably flexible database: v3 will run on 10.5 up, v4 requires 10.7 up; it's $69.95 and there is a version for iOS. There is a simplified 'Lite' version for $29.95. Both can be used in a trial version for 30 days of actual use.

Tap Forms ($49.95) is a multi-featured database, though apparently with some limitations according to user reviews. It is available from their website or the Mac App Store (OSX 10.12 required): the website offers a free trial. An earlier version compatible with OSX 10.9 is still in the Mac App Store at the time of writing.

FileMaker's simple database, Bento, has now been withdrawn from sale. Records, from Push Popcorn, has some similarities with Bento, but is more powerful and flexible (though with nowhere near the power of Filemaker Pro, of course). However it cannot import records from Bento or other programs. It requires OSX 10.11 and is available from the Mac App Store at $14.99; there is a 30-day free trial from their website.

For serious users, FileMaker Pro is the most obvious option. Its main disadvantage is that it is very expensive at $540; and being designed for business use it is very complex and presents a steep learning curve. However, being widely used in business (and available for Windows as well as Mac) there is little likelihood of it following AppleWorks into the 'end-of-life' abyss. It offer many more facilities for those who want them, including web usage, very high configurability, accounts with multiple users, relational databases using multiple tables. Although it's a subscription model for business teams it's available as a single purchase for an individual though only on one computer (where earlier versions allowed one desktop and one laptop). The previous split into two versions, standard and advanced, has been discontinued and it's now only available in the advanced version which contains extra facilities many individuals may not want.The company has now renamed itself Claris (resurrecting the old name) but at the time of writing there is so far no change to Filemaker.

The next page looks at the process of converting to FileMaker Pro.

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Roger Wilmut. This site is not associated with Apple.