FileMaker has released FileMaker Pro 8, the newest version of the wholly-owned but independent, Apple subsidiary's desktop database.

The company has focused on productivity, sharing and information management in this release.

Sharing gets a boost with FileMaker Pro 8's new PDF Maker, featuring the Adobe PDF Library (licensed through Datalogics). This lets users convert their reports into PDFs, which can be published from within FileMaker.

The product also introduces a facility to save data as Excel documents. Both features exist to help FileMaker 8 users share data with non-users.

FileMaker Pro 8 family

The company has also introduced FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced, previously called FileMaker Developer. This also implements new features for advanced users and developers.

The FileMaker family also features: FileMaker Server 8; FileMaker Server 8 Advanced and FileMaker Mobile 8, which will ship this autumn.

FileMaker has also announced the FileMaker Business Productivity Kit, which is available as part of the FileMaker Pro 8 trial download. This Kit offers a selection of small, business-focused, ready-to-use FileMaker solutions.

"With FileMaker Pro 8, it is now even easier to manage and share information of all types, even with non-FileMaker users," said Dominique Goupil, FileMaker president.

"FileMaker 8 has set a new standard for the database market by delivering the ultimate combination of power, ease of use, and sharing. By making it easier to create, learn and use shared information solutions, FileMaker 8 will bring even more new users into the database category. Customers can now work faster and share data with more people and office applications than any other desktop database."

Additional features include:

The capacity to find all information within a database that relates to a specified field in a single-click.

The ability to email the contents of any field, including documents, images and other data - from within the application.

Data auto-fill; support for drop-down calendars within any field; built-in email merge; better Tab panel controls.

A visual spellchecker will underline bad spellings as you enter data into the application, which also offers built-in support for mice with a scroll wheel.

Table support has been improved: users can now add a new table to a database by simply importing the new data.

FileMaker Pro 8 ships with 30 ready-to-use Starter Solutions, including a new email Campaign Management solution that can quickly import data from other formats, including Excel and Access.

FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced includes all the features of FileMaker Pro 8, plus new development and customization tools, such as menu and tool customizing solutions.

Responding to user feedback, FileMaker has introduced Custom Menus, which lets developers execute scripts from menus; add, edit or delete menus and menu items; and create custom scripts for toolbars, context menus, window options.

A new Data Viewer feature in FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced will monitor fields, variables, and expressions when debugging scripts.

"We renamed FileMaker Developer to FileMaker Pro Advanced because we found that growing numbers of our users were building advanced solutions but did not consider themselves traditional developers," said Ryan Rosenberg, FileMaker's vice president of marketing and services.

FileMaker Server 8 and FileMaker Server 8 Advanced

FileMaker Server 8 promises high-performance, reliable file sharing for teams of FileMaker users, the company says. FileMaker Server 8 Advanced also adds Web publishing and external connectivity options to the basic server package. Both server solutions will ship this autumn.

Users can expect to be able to find, add, edit, and delete information faster, using the newly optimized FileMaker Server 8 database engine.

FileMaker Mobile 8

FileMaker Mobile 8 will ship in autumn and is designed to support Palm OS and Pocket PC handhelds (supports Palm OS 5 and Windows Mobile 2003) that lets users take
their information on the road. The software can synchronize multiple devices to the desktop database.

FileMaker Pro 8 is available now for £219 (for both FileMaker Pro 7 and 6 licensed users). FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced is £379. Licensed users of FileMaker Developer 6 and 7 may upgrade to FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced for £199.

All four FileMaker Applications, including FileMaker Tasks, FileMaker Meetings, FileMaker Recruiter and FileMaker Donations, are compatible with the FileMaker 8 product line.

All prices include VAT.