Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

April 9th, 2013:

Open-Source Database App Builders

Some folks I know are asking me something I can’t answer: What are people using these days to build small-scale client-server GUI front ends? They have an app created with FileMaker Pro years back that they want to re-create. The catch is this: They want it to be built with something cheap (ideally open-source) and widely used, so that one person isn’t stuck supporting it forever.

The number of records in typical use is not high; from what I can tell, fewer than three hundred in the largest table. There are eight or ten tables, depending on how you slice up the database. There is a need for a certain amount of scripting in addition to table indexes and relationships. The app doesn’t have to scale. Again, 300-500 records is probably as many as the main table will ever need to hold. The database itself must reside on a server, accessible over the Internet from the front end, which will be on laptops and/or desktops.

I used to do things like that in Delphi, and have done simple apps for local tables in MS Access. Access is not cheap, nor is Delphi, and few people are learning Delphi anymore. Lazarus could work, but again, the real question is what’s out there that a lot of people use so that expertise is easy to find.

I wasn’t even aware that FileMaker was still being sold. I haven’t seen it since I had a review copy at VDM circa 2000. Did anyone ever create an open-source equivalent? A quick look around failed to spot one. Any insights?