FileMaker 12 review

FileMaker Inc., a subsidiary of Apple Computer, continues its stunning track record of releasing powerful upgrades to its core client, server and mobile portfolio products. The FileMaker 12 suite, released this month, has a massive set of new features that are aimed at the entry level designers and career FileMaker developers alike. A tall order to be sure but FileMaker 12 delivers.  

Powerful and customised asset management

Container fields have been around in FileMaker for years and are used to store external content such as images, movies, pdfs and more. These asset management capabilities have been supercharged with FileMaker 12 and include more control over how they are stored/referenced/retrieved, automatic thumbnail generation, interactive control options, streaming and even the ability to add new content via mobile devices using FileMaker Go 12.

New support for embedded scriptable SQL queries

FileMaker has supported a long list of interesting, powerful and flexible SQL options for many years. This latest enhancement allows developers to write scripts to perform a SELECT SQL query to internal tables regardless of context. This means that developers can craft sophisticated reports, with more display options, on larger data sets and do so with greatly reduced coding debt!

FileMaker Go 12 improved and free

Although not a technical enhancement, everyone likes it when a product becomes FREE! Wouldn't be great if more companies embraced that concept for their product upgrades!

FileMaker Server 12

FileMaker Server embraces 64 bit architecture! This is going to pay out speed improvement dividends to desktop users, mobile users and even users that may be accessing FileMaker data via a web browser.

FileMaker 12 includes a remarkable set of features to make a users database experience more enjoyable and productive. Here is a listing of more features we didn't cover in detail that you may want to consider. 

• Enhanced scripting control of windows and dialogs

• Scripted window control options of standard, modal and floating

• Ability to turn off standard window controls like close, minimize and maximize

• Dynamic when to show controls have been added to custom menus

• New OnTabSwitch script trigger for tab panes

• New OnWindowOpen and OnWindowClose script triggers

• Script debugger can ignore script triggers

• Easier chart creation with new chart types (up to 10 in total)

• PDFs in container fields have interactive control

• Easier plug-in deployment for multiple user workplaces

• Speed improvements for accessing FileMaker remotely

• Manage Layouts list view indicates which layouts have script triggers

• When designing layouts, you now have a multiple undo option

• Insert from URL script step can be used to capture web content

• New Get(UUID) function

• FileMaker Go 12 iOS multitasking support

• FileMaker Go 12 export formats including Microsoft Excel, CSV and HTML

New file format brings upgrade challenges

Gone is the .fp7 extension that FileMaker has used for the last eight years and this means FileMaker 12 is incompatible with files from earlier version. File conversion is a snap and won't present that much of a challenge to individual users or smaller workgroups. Developers working in large installations will have the considerable challenge of upgrading all the databases, all the servers and all the users of their systems.

OUR VERDICT

The file format change can be an issue for larger FileMaker workgroup installations. However, I feel the overall feature set of this upgrade makes this additional effort worthwhile. Tighter integration with the FileMaker Go mobile product can be another compelling reason to consider upgrading your entire FileMaker workgroup installation.

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