Database software

Discussion in 'Software' started by Vinassman, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. Vinassman
    Joined: Mar 2011
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    Vinassman Junior Member

    Hi everybody,

    I guess I am not the only one to keep an important database of all the ships found in magazines, design offices & saw on internet. However, I was wandering which software you use to maintain this database and to extract information as well.

    I am using Excel so far but it starts to be a bit heavy and difficult to find relevant information.

    Cheers,

    VM
     
  2. anhdtht
    Joined: Jun 2011
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    anhdtht Junior Member

    share it with everybody, please!
     
  3. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Ike Senior Member

    Good grief. If you have more than 20 -30 records in your database you need to use a decent database program. I recommend Microsoft Access. It is easy to use, is compatible with excel so you can directly import excel files, and can handle thousands of records with as many fields in each record as you may want. Searches are easy and can be on any field or multiple fields. No I do not have stock in Microsoft. I used Access to keep the USCG database of boat manufacturers and ID codes, about 15, 000 records. It is fast and easy to use once it is set up.

    If you can't stand Microsoft there are other database management software packages available. FilePro, QuickBase, and others. There are on-line databases, some that are free.
     
  4. daiquiri
    Joined: May 2004
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    daiquiri Engineering and Design

    Try Open Office - it is a freeware software very similar to MS Office, with a database-management module called Base:
    http://www.openoffice.org/
     
  5. Vulkyn
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Vulkyn Senior Member

    I have used Bento and the more complex version filemaker but on Mac.
    Bento is lovely since its a simple database, links with your contacts and calendar so you can plan dates and reminders. It has been great help in my work and i highly recommend it.

    Filemaker pro is a fully fledged complex database but might be too much.

    Open office is also a good choice ...
     
  6. CmbtntDzgnr
    Joined: Jun 2011
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    CmbtntDzgnr Senior Member

    Lotus Approach!

    It is WYSIWYG, it is db table-agnostic, but uses .dbf IV as its default. It works with MySQL, and numerous others. Unfortunately, if you do not need Lotus 1-2-3 or Lotus Word Pro (spreadsheet and word processor), you need to deselect those during the install.

    Lotus Symphony's (IIRC/AFAIK) has no database unless Kexi or the like are in the suite now.

    Approach is well-supported by active users and some IBM employees:

    http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/products/smartsuite/

    http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/ssforum...enView&ExpandView&RestricttoCategory=Approach

    Down Under, a lot of users submit their databases:

    http://www.johnbrown.com.au/approach/official.htm

    From auto parts, to school registration to medical inpatient, HIPAA requirement-type grade stuff

    And Sue Sloan:

    http://www.northwindit.co.uk/pages/XpertSSProducts.htm
    http://www.orderdeskxpert.com/prodinfo.html
    http://www.tek-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=1354348

    Also, see:

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/IBM_Lotus_SmartSuite


    I've been using Approach since ~1994, and as a temp over some of the past 20 years had a few chances to openly or quietly use this database to do in days with thousands of records needing editing what some databases might take days just to set up and test scripting. Reports are WYSIWYG, and none of those "bands" an dother business. Print preview is JUST what you expect, rendered live, and generally editable (at least in WordPro). Charts are adequate to good, though not nearly as abundant as those cranked out by ms or componentsource devs.

    You can find the SmartSuite disk online for as cheap as $1.99 or up to $21 in surplus stores. That for verions 95. and 9.8, respoectively, less any patches or tech support. For official support, you need to go through IBM and pay some $250 for the IBM or channel partner disk. Some say Approach is a "toy", but it's a heck of a lot easier to use than Filemaker Pro, Omnis Studio, Paradox, Access, or any other polished database. Plus, Approach won awards when such things were done for applications. AFAICR, none of those others won awards for a good mix of power, ease of use, documentation, and flexibility. End users keep pushing the code-frozen Approach to do things neither IBM nor Lotus Development EVER expected.

    You can't lose trying it out. And, IBM has no plans to kill it off anytime soon.

    I use it to track hundreds of compartments in my ship designs. It's a heck of a lot better than using a spreadsheet as a database.
     
  7. jamesgyore
    Joined: Sep 2011
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    jamesgyore Senior Member

    Hey there,

    Frankly, if you've been using Bento, why change. It's easy to understand, easy to use, and affordable. Bento has a few cool features too.

    You could go with Mysql or even postgresql (which should be on your OS X installation disk), but these require you to develop a front end. For quick and dirty jobs I use Mysql and PHP, using a mini-web-sever to dish up the data to a browser based client.

    Some very large web sites including this one are powered by Mysql.

    Regards,

    James.

    You might not want to go to such lengths or may not have the programming skills.
     
  8. Vulkyn
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Vulkyn Senior Member

    Not sure if you mean me or Vinassman but i am not changing Bento ;) its my dream program come true. I only wish it had more organizing functions but its fantastic!
     
  9. Vinassman
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    Vinassman Junior Member

    Thanks all for the reference and advices. I think I will try Lotus Approach as soon as I find a good place to download heavy files.

    Indeed, MS Excel is not suitable for this task, it is very true.

    Cheers,
    VM
     
  10. CmbtntDzgnr
    Joined: Jun 2011
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    CmbtntDzgnr Senior Member

    Vinassman,

    By "downlaod heavy files", do you mean you're looking to download SmartSuite? You can order the physical media from several reputable sites if you want that convenience.

    Keep in mind that Approach 9.5 and 9.8 -- while very flexible and well-supported online and by way of a plethora of simple-to-professional-grade database application -- is fairly stable, there are some bug-fixes that IBM absolutely will not provide unless you buy it from them or a partner, in which case the fix packs will be provided. That said, I've been using it for quite a while (not a dev, but as a user who tries every way without programming in Approach, and with few Lotus Scripts, and with maximum macros I can think of) and have not met with show-stoppers that prevented me from using Approach.

    There's a LOT you CAN do with it, but it is not as fully-web-capable as I wish (I don't know that it can be a front end to an on-line store, unless you hook MySQL and some good programming onto it, and there is no stand-alone executable/distributable binary by which you can share your database with others in an off-line manner.

    I've thought about Alpha 5, Sesame, and others, but some of them are just way too programmatic and I am not interested in becoming a programmer nor interested in developing something that'll take 15 devs and end up wresting away from me the thing I create. If you have resources, or money, and are strictly using windows as your DB's platform (not speaking of Virtualization such as VMWare or VirtualBox (I run win 7 in VirtualBox, running on PCLinuxOS), you can keep most of your learning curve to Approach. Some things will be easy, thrilling and exciting, and more. Some will be lamentable -- such as the lack of sliders on repeating panels/detail tables, and the lack of a "page X of page Y" in the footers, but there are workarounds.

    If you give yourself time, check out those Australian databases in the URL above (JA Brown), and spend maybe an hour or so a week reading the user lists. The one on IBM is quite long, but I find Sue Sloan's (more current) and JA Brown's (might be less date-current, but quite informative nontheless) chock-full of details and freebies.

    Look at schemas (See way down at the end the very long Google URL that takes you to a huge amount of schemas used by numerous people)

    If you can manage scripts, then Lotus Script can give you *almost* as much power as that which some can wrest out of MS Access -- well to some extent. Anyway, you'll find movie db apps, client/payee apps, employees/staff/faculty db apps, auto shops, school registration, and more. Mind-boggling array of flexibility if you put some time into it. I've built a crew-tracking/fitness/duty stations db, one for inventory tracking for a would-be coffee shop I was going to creat a decade ago, created a compartment tracking database, apartment unit/rentals interface, and other stuff.

    None of it was for sale, but mostly out of fun and to flex some personal interests so that as a temp i could show this stuff to peole foisting Access and Excel on temps who are not expected to program, but to do data entry on horridly-set up entry screens. I've worked with programmers who had let go of sales staff and hired us temps to clean up the contact databases for investors and directors, and it was astonishing to see how out-of-control that database was.

    If you grow a database for small business or consultancy, be sure to study Codd, Date and others to learn about referential integrity, normalization, normalization (3NF=3rd normal form), atomicity, and other Spock-sounding terms that are not too tough to deal with if you realize that most of it is about preventing people from entering data into fields not intended such as sales people entering notes into a phone number field, or phone numbers being instead put into contacts info, and surnames entered anywhere someone on the phone felt like hurriedly sticking them. Also, it's important to know when to not over-normalize, and when to de-normalize since denormalization sometimes is very necessary to reduce the number of dependent tables floating in the structure. For good practice/form, decompose a person's name to FN, MI, LN, Title, Suffix. Create fields to distinguish between people of the same name, especially if you're into tech or consultancy. You'll find that in some industries, such as television, IT, finance, and so on, people can move around quite a bit. You don't want to change ALL the records of Mary Smith at ABC Finance to Mary Smith-James -- even if she's the same person who moved to another or secondary income path. She may be known by different family names for profession reasons. Consider that a company may merge or de-merge/spin off an entity, and one person who is the point of contact may suddenly move on, but for historical reasons (call log, contact events) you MUST not to any cascading find-delete/find-replace of James Johansen just because he's moved on. If you did that, and someone later asks "Who was the contact in 2010 when you called?" You cannot very well name the person with whom you spoke just last week if last week's contact is a new hire. This is where detail tables come in.

    Similarly, in assemblies, you may want to definitely use detail tables. Consider a bicycle. Frame, wheels, tires, handle bars, brake calipers, grips, seats... stuff that is not totally decomposed, but assemble to a point warranting individual entries if you're running a bike sales shop. You'd need to structure a transactions side of business, too. If you don't want to, then people like Sue Sloan already have professional stuff set up to to cash registers, bar code scanners, invoicing, split payments and more. But, for tracking inventory and activities, you definitely need to study so you know your way around when you need to troubleshoot or expand or help out others' databases.

    (BTW: Back up, BACK UP, BACK UP!!!. Most of the time you won't have issues with corruption in either the dbf or the Approach (or any other app's) interface. But, doggedly forging ahead on unversioned, unarchived projects will lead to pain.)

    The better you lay out on paper your schema ("map", topological plan of your db) and the more you *think*, the better. I like to safeguard against mistakes in doing bulk entries and when doing long sessions of hand entry. So, I include fields such as Dte_Crtd (as opposed to date created, since in some dbs those are reserved words which can haunt you if they are read from the field name (column name) incorrectly, since Approach lets you name your fields anything you want with a few restrictions on symbols), Tme_Crtd, Dte_Mdfd, Tme_Modified. These allow me to go back and look at records (rows) where I might have made mistakes and want to severely cut down on how much data I need to sleuth.

    Other diagnostic or workaround techniques include adding a "One" field (not the number 1, but the word) so that when necessary, ALL records can be forced to show up on joined tables (tables you link together with a specific character or word or number value so that data in a main table (master table) can populate (flow automatically) into a detail table (child/dependent table) so that you can enter numerous records for a client or a magazine or a sports writher and link those, but avoid the inefficiency and inelegance of associating a name over and over. Imagine if the name of a person changed, or the name of the company changed. Although it's easy to do a find and replace, some things that are unique need not be duplicated endlessly. For home it's not a big deal. But in a company, with a fast-growing database, with numerous people hammering away on it, you'd want to streamline things within reason.

    BTW, check Amazon or Alibris or other sites for re-sold books on Approach. They're a massive HIT, and so it can be hard to find anyone willing to part with theirs. Sue Sloan may have digital copies to sell, since she authored at least one or 2 versions.

    To add more power to Approach, you might at some point find yourself using 1-2-3 as the front end for analytical tasks. Some people do that, but I'm more into data tracking than analyzing. The more I can contain my database activities to Approach files, the easier for me. But, Approach has fewer chart options than 1-2-3. But, Approach and 1-2-3 lack ms-like things such as conditional formatting (making records/rows change colors in a SPECIFIC CELL) based on an event (command or sum/value change). But, there are workarounds, some easy, some gymnastic... I had to come up with one to highlight the weight of an obese sailor vs one who is in-range. But, more than that, such a capability is very useful for making sure your data entry is really in range and not out of range. So, if you're making a tool to track performance of equipment or personnel, you can beef up basic entries with expanded-upon values in other columns/fields to serve as warning stages, customer pain thresholds, replace, reject, and so on.

    Some more links for those interested:

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Database_normalization

    http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infoc...?topic=/com.ibm.redbrick.doc6.3/wag/wag35.htm


    As for the humongously-long Google URL below, it can be found using key words "database schema example". If you're single, with few responsibilities, and with a lot of free time, you could find yourself swimming (happily) learning about databases -- especially from sources chock-full of PICTURES and human-friendly examples. A good bookstore's computer section will have at least 15 titles from different publishers and authors who teach how to make databases. Some are wildly conceptual and geekish. If you're a beginner, these are not for you: go for the pictures with connectors and examples with reasons and consequences explained simply. Almost any good database application will be able to use 80% or more of the graphical or command line SQL commands. Graphically, it boils down to personal prefs and what the app provides you at your experience level or limits. Some people are driven by the back-end (guts and code) of database tech. Some care more about the front-end/GUI/user friendliness. This is where Approach won awards: user friendliness, but reasonably powerful features.


    https://encrypted.google.com/search....2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=1&biw=1208&bih=653

    http://eclipse.org/articles/Article-GEF-editor/gef-schema-editor.html

    is an example of what Lotus Script or Access, Visual Basic, Foxpro, and other database hand-written code will take you. Most mere mortals want to avoid this unless programmatically-minded or gifted. The beauty of Approach and similar apps is the non-necessity for the user to become a mechanic. Gradually, one can tinker more and more. But, as Approach can handle millions of records and enough corporations even use it, IBM is not yet killing it off. Even if it did tomorrow, there are plenty of people who can support it so long as nothing legal got in the way.

    Cheers!
     
  11. Vinassman
    Joined: Mar 2011
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    Vinassman Junior Member

    Geeze, thanks a lot CmbtntDzgnr!!

    A lot of advices here, I am now ready to skip the step and go for it!

    Otherwise, is there anybody who knows about this website: http://e-ships.net/ ?

    Look like full of informations isn't it?

    VM
     
  12. CmbtntDzgnr
    Joined: Jun 2011
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    CmbtntDzgnr Senior Member

    More links, but mostly Schemas/Front-ends to MySQL, etc.

    Vinassman (and anyone interested in databases),

    I found the voyage/distance module interesting. I don't have the resources to buy or manage vessels and craft, though, hehehe. But, from a databasing perspective, all the raw information -- if obtainable for internal use -- would be fun to put into into a view. I once had to download information about VLCCs, LNG, and other ships, and the more the database grew, the more fun I had. I didn't care about who the owners were or where the sales were happening. I had fun just making charts and analyzing how various yards and partnerships and pricing affected the sales and transfers and sizes and uses of hulls. The people who tasked me to collect this information for them for a few months wished it was in Excel, and I gave it to them in Excel -- but I collected/data-entered it FIRST into Approach. I am very comfortable in Approach as I developed a habit of building fields and joins to guard against sloppy entry, duplicate or variations of names, prevention of inadvertently adding an extra zero to tonnages, and so on. While i did initially start in Excel, i quickly grew very frustrated with the filter and lack of controllable views. So, in Approach, I created forms and charts. Forms were structured and fields tab-order set so that I could exploit my touch-typing speed. Few things are as infuriating as a sloppy dev who tosses out a form that forces data entry persons to keep resorting to the mouse to more quickly get into a field that could have been tabbed-into if it were only 1 to 3 tabs away insteat of 25 down or 5 backward. I also used charts so that periodically (say 5 to 10 minute intervals) I could pause, switch into the chart mode, and do a visual sanity check of my entries. If all the types of ships I entered were VLCC, and I added or missed a value in the tonnage, a huge spike or dip would show on the chart. Depending on how I set up the chart, I might be able to "drill down" into the data to find the specific ship I hosed up on. Failing that, my time stamps on the records meant that I could sort by THAT time-stamping (creation and modification) field rather than rely on the internal default sort order which might get out of whack. I would just look at a range of data, search using constraint criteria, and then re-view the chart. Something like that CAN be done in spreasheets, but by default with no extral thought requred, with databases, you can delete records but not the whole form since in most cases editing data is not an app-design-mode activity. But, nicely with Approach, you can design forms and charts with live data (not asterisks ro ## signs or impsum lopsum garbage) present. So, if you KNOW your data, you can tweak forms and other views very early on in design efforts and give your downstream users something more fun and well-thought-out to use.

    If you DO end up becoming a "database developer" after a period of being a dilletante, you probably will advance to more powerful, multi-platform tools. QT and similar developer tools that are OS-agnostic will allow more open-minded (rather than money-chasing) devs to cater to more people irrespective of which OS their users prefer. For example, OpenOffice.org is such a tool. I can and do use both the Linux and Windows versions so I can work on either OS even in emulation so I can just have more ways of keeping information from cross-contaminating projects I have going on. But, while OpenOffice.org's spreadsheet (Calc) is fairly powerful, I really wish its database cloned Approach rather than the quasi-access-excel model. But,that's just me. IBM is working on Symphony (the name of Lotus' database/spreadsheet program from ~ 1993/94 that was a shocker but didn't take hold since most people could not wrap their minds around 3D data modeling at the time, and 123 and excel came along and accentuated paradox, approach, and access to the point that that mini-advantage that that Symphony had was almost obsolete), but so far as I can tell, it is a fumbling, feeble branch of OpenOffice.org meant to placate users of Lotus SmartSuite who've been for years begging and wailing for IBM to update SmartSuite, not fork another branch of a fully-fledged suite (Oo_O) that still looked and felt like the SmartSuite they knew and loved. But, IBM's (umm, an IBM rep or someone deeply familiar with what is going on) explanation/excuse to me was that when IBM acquired Lotus, Lotus had not kept proper track of all the patent/IP holders of all of Lotus' assets. So, supposedly, IBM cannot fork or share the SmartSuite code for Open Source developers and S/S fans to bring into the 21st century. I personally feel two forces are in play: IBM employees who work there but don't want to see ms be hurt; IBM turf warriors who don't want SmartSuite foraging into areas other IBM acquisitions carved out for survival within IBM or which IBM saw as a needed widget, but doesn't want S/S or Lotus impinging. (Yeh, sounds conspiratorial, but corporate life in large corporations is quite political, cutthroat, and vicious in a number of ways the non-corporate world may not fathom, hehehe).

    But, various sources provide components (well, componentsource) such as animated readouts, charts, diagnostic/histogram-type of stuff that work great for Excel and Access, and there may be some out there for the Qt world, too.

    OTHER DATABASE OR DATABASE FRONT-END CONSIDERATIONS (other than IBM/Lotus, Filemaker, Microsoft/Oracle/Sybase/etc...)

    Other databses:


    You might be interested in this:

    http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/database-file-management-software-reviews-SRCH_II1129.0,33.htm

    This one is a summary of several of the links I provide below (Only after trawling deeply in memory and in google did I realize this), so, I put it atop of the other links:

    http://www.databasejournal.com/features/mysql/article.php/3880961/Top-10-MySQL-GUI-Tools.htm


    A few years ago, mainly for Open Source-friendly database front ends to MysQL and such, I followed:


    http://www.sqlmaestro.com/products/mysql/

    http://www.embarcadero.com/products/er-studio-data-architect

    http://www.navicat.com/

    studiodata / aquadata studio

    http://datastudio.en.softonic.com/

    http://fabforce.net/dbdesigner4/

    http://www.astahost.com/info/tipdcl-fabforce-dbdesigner-mysql-database-freeware.html

    But, fabforce and aquadata


    This might interest you:

    http://www.linuxuser.co.uk/tutorials/get-started-with-omnis-studio/

    And, so much changes so fast, until now, I didn't even know that Omnis was bought. Years ago, when the new Bay Networks was still adjusting from its merger of Synoptics/Wellfleet, I first used Omnis in the marketing department around 1994. Later (around 1998 or 1999, I learned about Omnis Studio, but kept getting frustrated with some sort of data connector obstruction that defied my attempts to find a multi-platform/OS-agnostic replacement for the windows-only Lotus Approach. I burned maybe 8 months on Omnis Studio and even at a trade show showed a booth rep of Omnis what I could EASILY and RAPIDLy do in Lotus Approach (as limited as it was compared to Studio), and he could not make his tool do what the manual claimed I should be able to do. So, every year or so, when they released a new trial installer for the Linux mags and PC mag, the very first thing I'd look for was removal of that invisible obstructor. NO JOY! Last time I tried them was around 2009 or early 2010, still, no joy.

    But, the more you learn about databases, SQL, and data schemas, the more fun you may have exploring all these front end and integrated schema documenting apps and tools. Some are inexpensive, and some will shatter your elbow if you don't have deep pockets.

    Well, so much for that wrapper around e-ships.net, hahaha.
     
  13. Preston

    Preston Previous Member

    Relational Database Software Recommendations?

    I have a few databases set up on my Mac using mySQL. I'd like to create a front end with form windows, maybe some printable reports, etc., nothing too complicated. Like Access but for the Mac. I've tried NeoOffice Base and it's way too buggy. My stuff isn't important enough to warrant shelling out $300 for FileMaker Pro. Is there anything else out there worth looking at?
     
  14. Vulkyn
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Location: Egypt

    Vulkyn Senior Member

    Filemaker has a cheaper version called Bento for much lighter use. However its a rather simple database but its worth having a look if your requirements are not too high (i think it costs around $45)
     

  15. CmbtntDzgnr
    Joined: Jun 2011
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    Location: somewhereonearth

    CmbtntDzgnr Senior Member

    Vinassman,

    https://www.lantica.com/secured/order_form.html

    http://www.lantica.com/Support/free_downloads.php

    I don't know what in November caused me to pass on Sesame. But, I think I am going to give Sesame another look. It supports Linux, too, not just Windows. And, now, the pricing looks reasonable to me, since I've accumulated *just* enough to get it if I like the demo. And, it seems I might get to do some charting things I cannot do in Lotus Approach.

    Besides, it will be more practical for me to learn to us a program which has management tools usable in both the OS' I use. This way, if I create projects with friends who use Windows, and we share management and design/editing duties, we can use whichever OS we want at the moment or whichever is preferred.
     
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