Tap Forms 5 for Mac Review
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. Unfortunately Filemaker 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, a member of NoteboomTutorials.com 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 together 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.
The latest version, Tap Forms 5, is all new and was introduced at the beginning of August. 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 purchase it on your iPad. This review is for the Mac version.
So what can you do with Tap Forms 5? Create lists, lots of them. 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 are called forms. In Bento these were called libraries. In FileMaker Pro they are called tables. In my world I call them lists.
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 better suite your needs. 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 modify, delete, or create new fields. Fields are where you put in your data. This is the album name, the artist, the rating, and 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 even 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 a list and this list can group data together. In my album collection I group the albums together 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 just 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? Viewing your data. You can search 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 offers everything I need.
There are two ways to sync. You can sync if your devices are nearby or through the Cloud. This is not iCloud, this is through IBM Cloudant services. The developer used to offer syncing through iCloud, but there were issues according to what I saw in the forum. Some people are not happy about this, and to be honest, I wish iCloud syncing was an option. Saying that, I also know that iCloud syncing is not capable of everything. As an example, Tap Forms 5 offers sharing of the database to other users. This is just not possible through iCloud. Maybe in the future. Let’s hope.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a database, I’d recommend taking a look at Tap Forms 5. It reminds me a lot of Bento, which was a great database. I personally 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 just want a nice 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 8 years. Some people are not happy about this, but when was the last time you heard of a developer updating their app for eight years 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 there 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, the developer does have screencasts or videos on how to use it. I also am going to be creating a tutorial for it getting into a little more detail. Look for that in the next month or so.