My wife organises amateur and semi-pro orchestras. She has a ‘database’ of about 600 musicians which she currently keeps in an OpenOffice spreadsheet on the Mac, with each player’s name, instrument(s), contact details, some notes, and a record of which concerts they have played in. She’d now like to have this accessible on her iPhone (4S). It would be nice to be able to edit it on the iPhone, but not essential; it needs to be easy to keep the two copies in sync; it would be great if it was easy to call/SMS someone’s number from the iPhone database, but she doesn’t really want to merge the database with her iPhone address book.

I can think of a few different ways of solving this, for example:

  • view the spreadsheet on the iPhone using Quickoffice or Documents to Go
  • move the spreadsheet to Numbers on the Mac and iPhone, syncing via iCloud
  • use some sort of business contacts manager app, maybe adding contacts to groups to define both instrument played and concerts played in
  • create some sort of custom solution using Bento on the Mac and iPhone

I don’t have any of the above apps at the moment. Any advice on the ideas above, or any alternative suggestions please?

  • Do you have any programming experience? It would be easy to create a custom solution using f.e. CouchDB which suits perfect to this task.
    – Patrick
    Dec 20, 2011 at 10:44
  • No iOS programming experience I'm afraid...
    – nekomatic
    Dec 21, 2011 at 0:45

1 Answer 1


Using Numbers would work as you say it syncs when ever a change is made. The benefit of this is that it is customised to your wifes needs, i.e the filed Name, Instrument, etc, ect are what she needs.

Using Office to go adds a few unnecessary steps to the procedure, with iCloud everything just syncs.

If she were to buy a database package it is not likely to contain all the correct fields she requires and would contain a lot more that would be useless, so a bit overkill really.

However the benefit of having a database app like Bentois that all your contacts details are clickable on the app, so if she is looking for a bass player she will be able to search and then click the contact number to call them. However this has a much larger cost than just buying Numbers for iOS.

  • Thanks for this. Will Numbers sync via iCloud with a .xls spreadsheet on the Mac then? I assumed it would need to be in Numbers on the Mac, which I'd also need to buy.
    – nekomatic
    Dec 21, 2011 at 0:47
  • Yes you will need to buy Numbers on the Mac, its not a lot and can be bought separately to the rest of iWork. Dec 21, 2011 at 8:14
  • Accepted this answer as we've (eventually) checked out Bento and it's a good solution, with one-click (although not automatic) synchronisation. Numbers doesn't actually synchronise between Mac and iOS, unless I'm missing something; you have to import the file from one to the other each time you make a change. Apparently sync will finally work correctly in Mountain Lion.
    – nekomatic
    Feb 28, 2012 at 0:44
  • You are missing something, to sync a Doc, you should email it to the iPad, or add it via iTunes when syncing iPad. Once it is on the iPad it will sync via iCloud to when ever a change is made. I'm glad you found a solution though, and thank you for the feedback. Feb 28, 2012 at 9:37

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