One of my long-term projects has been the desire for a centralized contacts database (DB) that can be used in multiple places. Over the years I've used PDAs, MS Access, etc.
My MS Access database is currently the repository for all my personal contacts, and I have a working process to produce a Christmas mailing list and mailing labels with it: csv dump of selected fields, take csv file to Linux box, use Perl program to generate PostScript files for labels, convert ps to pdf, print pdf file anywhere (if you print from Adobe, remember to select no scaling).
Recently I've started using my Google Mail contacts and have happily discovered that I can get it synched so I can access it from my iPhone, and I have written Perl programs to enable up- and downloading my Google contacts.
But I still don't have exactly what I want. First, I really want my central database completely under my control without Microsoft (or Google) in the way. Second, I realize the flat contact lists I have need to really be a single relational database to accommodate the relational aspects of my contact data as realized in a simple Christmas card list, e.g., children of friends and family grow up and start families of their own, thereby becoming a new entry for the mailing list. Third, I want my database to be available online to friends and family to use and update. And fourth, I want it to be the authoritative source for all my personal contacts and family information.
As I've studied the problem, I've decided that my database really needs to be designed to handle many aspects of a genealogy database, in fact, I think they could really be different views of the same. After reorienting my design plans, I've been searching for an existing, open source database solution and looked at a couple (using the site Database Answers as a helpful guide along the way):
but none of them really seem to fit the bill (also I found a good argument that the standard genealogical database format is not ideal).
Then I stumbled upon what I think is the epitome of a good genealogy and contacts DB design, which happens to use PostgreSQL, my RDBMS of choice, in Leif Kristensen's Yggdrasil. Leif has done yeoman's work in designing a genealogy database, necessary functions, and a web interface access to it. His database has provided me practical insights into how to accomplish my goals, and I am indebted to him for showing the way.
To be continued...