Organize your life with this easy-to-use database.
I’ve always loved databases. Yes, that’s a strange thing to say, but it’s true. With a good database, you can organize most anything. The problem with most database apps is that they are not easy to use; they are built for professionals and not consumers. Filemaker (owned by Apple) had a consumer-level database called Bento, and it was great. Unfortunately, they stopped developing it several years ago. The only choice they offer as a replacement is Filemaker Pro. But, FileMaker Pro is expensive, and you have to have more than basic knowledge to set it up. Would Filemaker Pro work? Yes, but it is overkill for what I think most people need.
Luckily, one of my members recently introduced me to Tap Forms 5. Could this be the Bento database replacement I’ve been looking for? It’s looking that way. I purchased it within 30 minutes, and I went and created a catalog or list of my vinyl records. This list includes the album name, artist, album covers, ratings, the year the album was released, and track listings. I can group albums by artist or year. It’s available on my Mac, iPad, iPhone, and even my Apple Watch. This is what I’ve been wanting, and Tap Forms 5 is the key.
This review covers the Mac version of Tap Forms 5. The developer also has versions for the iPad and iPhone. It is a universal app, so if you purchase it on your iPhone, you do not have to buy it on your iPad.
So what can you do with Tap Forms 5? Organize your data through lists. I like to think of databases as lists. I have a to-do list. I have a list of my albums. I have a list of my favorite movies. I have a list of my contacts. I have a list of website logins. I have a list of wines I like. With Tap Forms 5, these ‘lists’ are called forms. In Bento, these ‘lists’ were called libraries. In FileMaker Pro, they are called tables.
Tap Forms 5 comes with a number of these forms or lists already created. You can start using these lists right away, or you can edit them to suit your needs better. You can add and delete fields. You can modify the layouts or create your own. But again, you don’t have to. You can use the forms or lists supplied by Tap Forms 5 without any modification. They are powerful and easily usable.
Let’s talk about modifying a form or list. With Tap Forms 5, you can easily edit, delete, or create new fields. Fields are where you put in your data. This is the album name, the artist, the rating, and the image of the album cover. Each one of those bits of information is stored in a field. A form is comprised of these different fields. Want a field to be a number? Date? Rating? Image? Or even a calculation? Tap Forms 5 can handle this. Tap Forms 5 has over 20 different field types you can use. You can also relate fields to other forms (this is called a relationship in standard database terminology). All these field types help keep your data consistent, which is crucial.
So you have all your data in the form or list, how do you view it? You can view it as an actual list, and this list view can group data. In my album collection, I group the albums by artist, but I can also easily group them by year. When you select an album, you get a more detailed view. I like to think of these views as windows into your data. With Tap Forms 5, you can create multiple views of your data through layouts. Each layout can show different fields. Want to see only the album covers? You create a layout where it only shows the field with album covers. How about the album name and year it was released? You create another window or layout showing only those two fields. When editing a layout, you drag and drop the different fields where you want them. You can even create layouts for printing and labels with Tap Forms 5.
Now that you have your data in the form and you have your layouts so you can view your data, what’s next? Searching and favoriting. You can search in all the fields and even create saved searches. You can also favorite records. Have that favorite wine in your wine form or list? Save it as a favorite, so it’s easily accessible. You also have exporting options so you could export all your data and put it into Excel or Numbers to manipulate it.
I mentioned earlier that there was an iOS version. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can sync your data to that device. This is what I did with my album collection. I entered all the data on my Mac and then synced it to my iPhone. You can create forms or lists with the iOS version, but I find it much easier to create it on the Mac and then sync to get my data on there. The iOS versions do not offer all the features of the Mac version, but in my case, it provides everything I need.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a database, I’d recommend taking a look at Tap Forms 5. It reminds me of a lot of Bento, which was a great database. I have been putting off cataloging my vinyl records, as I didn’t have the tools to do this. Could I have done it in Filemaker Pro? Yes, but for projects like this, it’s overkill. Sometimes you want a helpful list that is easy to create, edit, and access. Tap Forms 5 fills that bill.
So how do you get it? If you’d like to try it out on your Mac before you buy it, you can get a trial at TapForms.com. To purchase it, you go through the Mac App Store. If you had an older version, Tap Forms 5 is a paid upgrade. From what I’ve read in his very active support forum, this is the first paid upgrade he’s had in over ten years. Some people are not happy about this, but when was the last time you heard of a developer updating their app for a decade and not charging for updates? I think it’s ok to have a paid upgrade, especially after years of free upgrades. This is how small developers make their money and can keep developing tools for us to use. The developer also seems to be very active in the forums on his site.
If you’d like to learn more about Tap Forms 5, the developer does have screencasts or videos on how to use it. I also have a tutorial for it getting into a little more detail.