Database with a nice GUI

I haven’t been able to find a database with a good GUI. Yep, I know about for example FileMaker and Airtable but is there some other apps I should look at?

I wouldn’t mind that it was backed by a SQLite database so could write some scripts to do some special things.

4D ( is superb. Whether or not it’s overkill for your needs is another matter, of course.


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Ohhh, I didn’t even know that 4D was alive … I used to have a license many, many, many years ago … sometime before -98.

But yes, that is probably overkill for what I want to do.

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Panorama — pay when you use it. RAM based so very fast.
Ninox — I have it on my iPhone. It allowed me to create a database on my phone. I have not played with it enough to have an opinion.

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I’m in the same boat… I have a few projects in mind that need a DB, building my own using SQLite and some web front end from scratch is not something I want to learn this year :wink:

There are so many database frontends for mac that it’s overwhelming to find ones that are decent… and buying Filemaker is overkill but might be what happens here anyhow!

I just heard about Airtable on the Automators podcast and have yet to try it. Any particular reason you’re avoiding it? Or just looking for more options?



Panorama … another classic database that I forgotten about. This could be what I’ve been looking for. Thanks for pointing it out!!

Yes, there are two good reasons I wouldn’t use Airtable:

  1. I wouldn’t feel comfortable to store this kind of data in the cloud, especially not if it’s stored in the US (which I assume Airtable does).

  2. It would be illegal for me to use something like Airtable for what I want to do…

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Good point… one of my projects has data that would not be appropriate for a cloud database. Tracking privacy and security related issues for a client… not something I want visible to anyone but me!

Thanks Jem :wink:



Have you taken a look at Tap Forms? The support is excellent.

There is also a relatively new app called Data Organizer. I haven’t taken a close look at it, but it’s probably too simple for your needs.


We’ve been playing around in Ninox for Mac and iOS, and exploring both the iCloud and Ninox Cloud options. Ninox allows for the local and privately-shared databases you’re after.

The interface isn’t what I’d call phenomenal, but it is much more “Mac-like” than not (especially with what passes for a Mac app these days); it takes some getting used to if you’re coming from a wealth of experience elsewhere, and currently lacks a fair amount of accessibility functions (too much mousing, not enough keyboard), but it appears reasonably powerful, even if it currently lacks the more powerful integration and maturity of FMP.

But, you can trial the Ninox Cloud for free, and the Mac version for local/private/secure development is only $35 with a free iPhone app; the iPad app is (I think) ~$15. You can place your db in your personal iCloud (or Dropbox, etc.) and use across devices, which is nice if you don’t have to meet federal requirements.

We bought several Mac copies to show our support and with hopes that the developers will continue to invest in this relatively young native Mac app.

Templates are what you’d expect; tutorials are messy and already out of date as far as images matching current product, but I often take that as a good sign that necessary development is outpacing documentation.

Oh, and support is excellent; they will schedule one on one online support via telephone or screen sharing.


EDIT: Forgot to say the reason we looked to adopt it is that it can directly import Bento databases, which our people were looking for when Bento got the knife.


I would recommend looking at Ninox [] for the same reasons mentioned by “frederico.” I came over from Bento, too, and I found the learning curve a bit steep. But the support team is very responsive and genuinely interested in helping make Ninox useful to users at all levels.


Thanks for the info. I’ve taken a quick look at the web sites and from what I understand Panorama and Ninox seem to be closest to what I’m looking for.

I’ll be looking closer at them in a week or two (final push at work before summer)

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I would highly recommend giving Tap Forms a try (as @ryoichi suggests). I’ve used it for many years, and it is excellent – hits the sweet spot between being a powerful database but not too complicated. The developer is very responsive and active, and it has really grown over the years and continues to do so. There are Mac, iPhone, and iPad apps, a variety of syncing options, the ability to create and customise multiple forms for each table, and a great set of data types.

For those that need it, it can also import Bento databases. In fact, I came to it from Bento many years ago, and it has been what I always hoped Bento would be/evolve into, but never did!


I use Filemaker despite its limitations such as a lack of a high-level programming language. I did look at Libre Office which (unlike MS Office) includes a database module for managing MySQL data. It may be worth a look (and it is free).
I can beat “4D” from 1998 - I still use the 1985 DOS-based Open Access 4 for complex database operations and programming. It runs happily on a Mac in DOSBox emulator (which is intended for games). Of course it does not have a graphics user interface and these days can only exchange data via text files but, for me, it is a bit like keeping a vintage car (Rolls Royce?) going.

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I always used the database module in AppleWorks on my Apple IIc and then in ClarisWorks and AppleWorks for Mac on my Macs. With Apple killing AWM and not putting a database module into iWorks, I’ve had to use Numbers as a very simple database.

Wow, lots of answers where…yet no one mentioned the one with the (arguably) BEST GUI: Helix!

You don’t write a single line of code; instead, you connect domino-like tiles to create results. Believe me, though, that’s a real over-simplification; Helix is an extremely powerful relational database. And yes, it is WYSIWYG.

It has been around since 1984, but it waned under several owners who didn’t maintain it very well. But the current developers, QSA Toolworks, have put in the hard work to bring it up to date—and yes, it runs under MacOS 10.14. Check it out; it’s amazing!


We’d abandoned Helix when it appeared abandoned; super glad to know it’s kicking again. I can’t wait to take another look. Thanks!

Believe it or not, some of the programmers go back to the original Helix of 1984! They’ve retained the soul of the beast, while also bringing it into the 21st century. It handles images and documents, supports secure client/server connections, and AppleScript support gives you tremendous power and flexibility when you want it. Helix can also be extended to drive websites.

I’m another Bento refugee who landed at TapForms. It has some UI oddities, but syncs well between Mac and iPhone, which is important to me. (It uses iCloud)

I strongly considered AirTable but decided their pricing model was too expensive at the personal use level.

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FileMaker has a 2 for 1 offer at the moment if you know someone to share the costs.