Looking for good examples of database GUI and looks

Greetings,
I am beginning the development of a fairly large database (100+
tables). The goal basically is to develop a GUI that is as close as
possible to 4D, Access or Filemaker. I am looking for suggestions on
the best way to design trhe GIU, both functionnaly and comestics stand
point. Suggestions are welcome, even if they are to systems not
designed in ROR. Thanks!

Greetings,
I am beginning the development of a fairly large database (100+
tables). The goal basically is to develop a GUI that is as close as
possible to 4D, Access or Filemaker. I am looking for suggestions on
the best way to design trhe GIU, both functionnaly and comestics stand
point. Suggestions are welcome, even if they are to systems not
designed in ROR. Thanks!

You could start with Streamlined (ROR plugin) and build on to it.

This may be heresy on a ROR mailing list, but you should also check out
Django. It gives you an admin interface for free (I personally use
Rails, but Django looks good too).

RoR or any other web development language for that matter can’t be compared to Filemaker or 4D, both in terms of what’s being done for you in terms of interface building and point-and-click (Filemaker) or Pascal-like (4D) scripting. If your goal is to use a database such as MySQL because of performance but don’t want to lose the lego-building way that Filemaker offers, you could have a look at Servoy (http://www.servoy.com/). Servoy is kind of like Filemaker 6, but then with some features Filemaker is still lacking: event based actions (on change of a field, do something) and decoupling of dropdownmenu visual values (for example company names) and data entered in the database (the id number of the company). It does lack some of the features Filemaker 8.5 has, but if you’re a professional database developer, Servoy will have more stuff that’s useful, Filemaker is clearly aiming at the hobbyist and small business developers. Make sure you have a look at the perfomance of Servoy on a Mac, because it used to be very slow a few years ago (it’s a Java client).
If you’re looking at cutting the license cost because your software becomes too expensive (Filemaker, Servoy and 4D don’t come cheap), you should invest time in getting to know a programming language and framework (because a good framework like RoR saves you years of time).

You could do an interface that resembles Filemaker (which doesn’t use platform native controls anyway) using XHTML/CSS (although you could probably get a designer to make you something that looks a lot better than a Filemaker interface), but as said, you’d need to use ajax for some of the features Filemaker offers. Especially the multi-user updates (in Filemaker, as soon as one user updates a field, all users immediately see it on their screen) would either require a periodical update of (parts of) your page or a pushing system like Comet. Still, having done Filemaker development for more than 5 years (very big CRM/ERP database solutions), I can honestly tell you I’m frustrated by both the speed and limitations of all these “RAD” database environments. Ruby is such a beautiful language and Rails offers me both the power and flexibility Filemaker/4D/Access/Servoy will never offer.

Best regards

Peter De Berdt