FileMaker Pro: Growing Mobile By Ric Getter
Flexibility has never been a core competency of business databases. Once designed, most are difficult to update and can be almost impossible to change. With business data rapidly going mobile, this is proving to be a real drawback. On the other hand, FileMaker’s greatest strength has been to make it possible for their customers (and their many partner developers) to stay on technology’s cutting edge. These days, that means making the data available not only when but where it’s needed. The newly released FileMaker 13 products offer even more power to mobile users while, simplifying life for the developers and designers who make those changes happen.
FileMaker 13, like its predecessors, comes in several different forms. FileMaker Pro 13 serves as a foundation, providing a diverse suite of development tools as well as being the data entry and retrieval platform for end users. Stepping up to FileMaker Pro Advanced offers script debugging tools, optional AES 256-bit encryption and the ability to generate standalone applications. FileMaker Server 13 is a scalable solution, offering multiuser, mobile and web access. The desktop and server products can use ODBC and JDBC standards to connect with other data sources. FileMaker Go 13, a free iOS app, lets you capture and retrieve data on the road, taking advantage of a wide variety of mobile APIs, allowing it to grab images, sounds, location and, new to this version, scan barcodes.
FileMaker Pro has added a number of new design tools take even greater advantage of the multi-touch interface and greatly simplifies building layouts for specific devices. These let you create device-aware forms and report layouts, serving up the most appropriate screen as needed. (Though there are MacOS and Windows versions of FileMaker’s desktop applications, you’ll need an iPhone or iPad to go mobile.) Having a FileMaker Server online can provide real time data in the field; if you only have the desktop applications, you can sync your data through iTunes.
FileMaker Pro includes a number of Starter Solutions, pre-built databases covering a number of basic business needs. These work quite nicely out of the box. But, because this is FileMaker Pro, they can be easily customized, enhanced and expanded for your specific needs. The program has also added a number of new visual themes, bringing the total up to 50. FileMaker Pro 13 introduces style sheets, making it far easier to for designers to maintain a platform-wide look and feel to their systems.
One of our favorite new features of FileMaker Pro 13 is the Field Picker. This floating, heads-up display box allows you to drag and drop fields from your database directly onto forms. New conditional elements can appear (or not) based on a field calculation, for example, a button that brings up a reorder form if a stock item falls below a certain level.
With its ability to leverage iOS devices in the field and offering a web-based interface for access virtually anywhere, FileMaker Pro 13 is one of the most significant updates the company has released. More importantly, FileMaker continues to provide the one feature that is least often associated with an organization’s data: agility.
Product: FileMaker Pro 13
Made by: FileMaker, Inc. (FileMaker.com)
Price: Starting at $329; Upgrades from $179 (subscription plans available)
System requirements: MacOS 10.7 or later
Pros: Greatly improved mobile integration; Useful design tools; Overall flexibility
Cons: The approach to scripting is rather unique and takes a bit of effort to learn
FileMaker Pro 13 and FileMaker Pro 13 Advanced databases only work with other FileMaker 12 and FileMaker 13 software. Files from previous versions of FileMaker Pro must be converted to the new file format to be shared with FileMaker Pro 13/Pro 13 Advanced. Learn more about converting your pre-12 FileMaker solutions.
Please note that Windows XP and Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) are no longer supported. Please update your operating system before upgrading to FileMaker Pro 13.
Windows 8.1, andWindows 8.1 Pro*
Windows 8, andWindows 8 Pro*
Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate, Professional, Home Premium*
OS X Mavericks v10.9
OS X Mountain Lion v10.8
OS X Lion v10.7
*Version stated is the minimum requirement. FileMaker Pro may also work with later operating systems certified by FileMaker, Inc. Operating systems not listed in the table above have not been tested and are not supported.
CPU: Intel-based Mac RAM: 2 GB
CPU: Intel-based Mac RAM: 4 GB
Citrix and Terminal Services (FileMaker Pro 13 only)
Citrix XenApp 6.5
Windows Server 2012 Terminal Services
Windows Server 2008 R2 Terminal Services
Networking (all platforms)
TCP/IP: limited to five simultaneous FileMaker client connections; each client requires a licensed copy of the software; see FileMaker Server 13 for increased capacity. FileMaker Pro 13 supports Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) addresses, as well as IPv4 addresses. Supports encryption [SSL] when connected to FileMaker Server 13. When sharing FileMaker Pro peer-to-peer (i.e. not using FileMaker Server 13), communication between shared files is not encrypted. Any computer accessing FileMaker Pro files over a network will need to have a licensed installation of FileMaker Pro 13 or FileMaker Pro 13 Advanced.