FileMaker Pro 13 review

FileMaker was always more user-friendly than its business level rival Microsoft Access - but version 13 manages to cosy up to both consumers and developers. With several key new features aimed at aesthetic database design and cross-platform deployment, this is the most accessible FileMaker yet.

First, the basics. FileMaker’s a database creation tool, that does much of the hard work for you. While other business level database creators have forms-based interaction as an afterthought, FileMaker Pro 13 leads with it.

By default, you create databases in layout view by adding fields with selectable data types. Effectively, the database is built as you create the form that others will use to fill it.

Dev types and logical thinkers can still opt to create databases in table view and - to be frank - that still feels more intuitive. When creating databases it’s more traditional to begin with a thorough plan in mind and a list of datasets that you’ll need.

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Themes and Styles enable you to apply a universal look to a database, changing it radically with just a few clicks here and there.

We fully accept that’s a preference and FileMaker Pro caters for either mindset. However, there’s one new feature that definitely favours visual thinking and fast prototyping. Starter Solutions - database templates that you can use to create common database types.

FileMaker Pro 13: A New Start

Starter Solutions are a new feature with 16 different types of generic database at your disposable. They include task, project management, invoicing and product catalogue tools. In effect, FileMaker’s now bundled with a set of apps you build yourself - all with targeted business, domestic and educational uses.

The advantages are clear; you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you create a new database. The databases are professionally designed, at both front and back end. And, they’re conceived as editable, allowing you to add or remove fields.

Two other features combine to make Starter Solutions part of a very productive workflow; custom themes and styles. The tool is already bundled with a bunch of themes you can use to re-skin your database front-end in a second - but if you crave fine aesthetic control, you can create your own.

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