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sndfreQ's avatar

Bento alternative? Looking for databasing app for Mac that syncs easily between computers/users?

Asked by sndfreQ (11714points) December 11th, 2008

I have a small workgroup that needs to share and edit a database for a collaboration-based project; I have purchased a family pack of FileMaker’s Bento software, only to learn that it has poor inter-user support.

The idea is that I need to be able to sync the database easily between 3–5 users. Any recommendations?

Also I have heard that some people are having success with Google Apps (Google Docs) and syncing using a dropbox app of some sort?

Bonus if the app has import/export/sync with Entourage or iCal/Address Book, etc.

Any help is greatly appreciated-thanks in advance!

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11 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

I wonder if you could rig something custom with WordPress?

wilhel1812's avatar

For advanced databases i would consider FileMaker Pro

artificialard's avatar

Can you be more specific about what you need? When you say database do you simply means information, to do lists, or a calendar? Or complex tables, records, and calculations?

If you simply need to collaborate on a project you might try a 37signals web application like Basecamp. All of the action happens in the web browser so there’s no need to ‘sync’ and there’s rich calendar, contact, and task management features.

Google Docs is excellent because it requires no syncing – multiple users can work directly off the same document from the web simultaneously with the changes showing instantly.

The other advantages of web apps is that they’re very easy to try, require virtually no maintenance on your part, and have very rich collaboration features. Downsizes are obviously that you can’t use them offline and there’s certain feature and performance limitations to how much a web app can do vs. a ‘normal’ local app.

If you want a multiuser real database on the Mac, Filemaker is really the only thing. It’s great, although requires a significant learning curve and investment to really make use of the product.

TaoSan's avatar

I second wilhel1812.

I got very good workable results with FileMaker Pro on a LAN. They have a 30 day free trial too, so plenty of time to play around.

sndfreQ's avatar

Thanks everyone…that really helps. Basically it’s project management that I’m after.

I tried Basecamp and as mentioned the drawback is that you need to be connected online to access it. I’m thinking FM Pro is the answer but perhaps the key feature I’m after is a workflow where an online project management solution can sync with local apps. Basically a single place to go online for basic collaboration, that has a sync function to sync those tasks to a local database (such as Mobile Me, iCal, Entourage, Address Book, etc.) for each user.

Though maybe that’s a bit of a stretch without some enterprise-level technology. Thanks for your suggestions though-I appreciate the collective input.

ps has anyone worked with Copper Project? It would appear to be a more robust version of Basecamp, but with offline functionality. The unkown for me is sync with Apple’s calendaring, contacts and to-do’s (and possibly iPhone client).

artificialard's avatar

I would check out Daylite from Marketcircle. It’s a very Mac-like app that is classified as a CRM app but has many project management features like an complex task management, pipeline (phased) workflows, excellent contact features, and fully-featured PIM functions.

It uses sync services that allows for syncing when there’s a connection but as a fully-native Mac app it allows for offline use as well.

skord's avatar

You could always roll your own with 3.0 has a lot of pre-built templates in OOo Base for all sorts of business scenarios. I was impressed at least.

simpleD's avatar

I’ve been using OmniFocus as a task manager. It can probably scale somewhat to handle projects for small workgroups, but I guess OmniPlan would be more suitable for larger groups. OmniFocus syncs very well among many Macs and to the free iPhone app.

sndfreQ's avatar

Hi simpleD (nice spelling-like your stylE!)

Yeah that’s actually what I’m using now (OmniPlan which exports to OmniFocus and syncs to iPhone). It was a lot of set up to do this-you would think OmniPlan and OmniFocus could be essentially features of one single combined app (reading their forums, I think they’re planning something along those lines). Still I would like to see something as comprehensive as Daylite, without the kludgy-ness of the Daylite-to-iCal/AB/Mail two-way sync.

To throw in a wrench I’m Exporting from OmniFocus to iCal and syncing to Google gCal to have a shared calendar so my supervisors can monitor my due dates…yuck.

BTW thanks all for your input…much appreciated!

FreeGroup's avatar


a good solution for an intranet database can be
It’s an online version of Bento.


Andreas Herz

dabitat's avatar

We have built a tool that it perfect for what you’re looking for. It allows anyone to create simple databases and share and collaborate in the cloud. It’s called Dabitat (

Checkout the explainer video:
And our Getting Started video:

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