Still Wanted After All These Years: A Simple Database App

It’s been years now, and I still haven’t found a simple database application that gives me two things simultaneously: (1) a nice GUI and (2) the ability to get to my data from a number of places.

For a long time I was content with [Filemaker](http://www.filemaker.com/). It allowed me to create my own databases and my own interface. It eventually even grew the ability to create relational databases, which was a good thing despite the fact that I was mostly happy with flat ones. The down side to Filemaker was that you had to run your own web server if you were going to be able to access your database anywhere else, or sync a copy and then sync it back. (What’s the name of the process whereby one can sync two sets of records for the same database and add any new records to both sets simultaneously? I want to call it *reconcile* but that isn’t it, I think.)

Summary: + easy to use, – difficult to access

When I got myself on-line five or more years ago and set up this site, I became much more aware of the power of PHP and MySQL in terms of database creation. Unfortunately for me, PHP and I don’t get along, and working with a webapp is not so good when you don’t have access to the web — as our recent experience with the hotel flubbing the data line at the Project Bamboo third workshop emphasized. One can run an AMP stack locally on a Mac, but then I still didn’t know how to sync the local MySQL database with a remote one — I never even figured out, really, where the local copy of the database was stored to know how to do the syncing by hand.

The same goes for [Ruby](http://rubylang.org/) and [Rails](http://rails.org). Rails makes it easy to get up and running, but syncing the MySQL database remained a mystery to me in the Summer of 2008 when I explored this option. Oh, but the allure of using XCode to develop a front-end for the local version of the app — with a spiffy sync button like Evernote (more on this in a moment) — was deeply appealing.

I’m still thinking about Rails, but along the way I came across an article on [CocoaDevCentral](http://cocoadevcentral.com/) that promised I could [roll my own Core Data Database application](http://cocoadevcentral.com/articles/000085.php#21). Well, that’s too cool to pass up.

It’s a great idea, but it looks like going that route had one big bump: It doesn’t seem like, from reading the questions and answers that followed another [article](http://www.macgeekery.com/gspot/2005-40/core_data_as_a_cheap_database) over at MacGeekery that you can use this method for developing a custom front-end for a MySQL database. CoreData has its own preferred data store format — I forget what it’s called — or it can use XML or SQLite. ***No MySQL for you!*** (I suppose one could write a script that would find the SQLite store and copy it up to a server.)

What I really want, to get back to [Evernote](http://evernote.com/), is something like, well, Evernote that I can store data in. I suppose I could use Evernote, but that would probably mean breaking out the checkbook and setting up more than one notebook, which is all I have with the free account that I am currently still trying.
This doesn’t mean that one can’t use XCode to develop a MySQL front-end, just not go the CD route.