Filemaker – a dream tool for dB app prototypes … or real solutions

When I first started using Filemaker – I had to since a customer was enamoured with it. Once I got going I too was enamered. I tried to get another programmer to try it an he too turned his nose up at it, but after using it to prototype – fell in love instantly. Oh- and they have apps for iPad and iPhone – just design new screens with a couple scripts to redirect or use existing screens and just … go!

It is so easy to set up and configure and its programming is done by clicking on commands that to make mistakes is often just not going to happen thereby reducing your design time. The graphical nature of the layouts and picklists and all the other GUI items makes this a dream tool to just get an app/database done quickly. You can share it to clients with Filemaker or iPads witth Filemaker Go or just turn on a (albeit clunky) web rendreable version of your forms/layouts/reports in seconds.

It isn’t cheap. To get Filemaker Server- you should get the Server Advanced with a buy out over $2500 or a a yearly fee of over $200 / a. You cannot write the overhead of the search, add/delete etc. on a web tool as fast as Filemakers’ tools are already ‘just there’. You can customize menus, add graphics tips, tab orders etc.etc in no time. Its what you can do that gets you in trouble as “oh I can add that” for free is such a natural thing to do when making cool tools for people.

Interfacing it . . . takes some trial and error but it can read XML and write XML so with some XSL knowledge it can happen. Fighting with XSL is not always a desired skill to have as hours can go by before you get what you require unless you read your XML book 5 times from font to back. With Filemaker Server Advanced, other interfacing options open up like easy-to-configure ODBC and easy to set up php scripting. If you customer says yes to Filemaker Server Advanced you are good to go.

Buy a copy of Filemaker Advanced if you are going to play with it. It costs about $430 or a yearly licence is $130 on the yearly AVLA. Do not buy FIlemaker Pro to play with the development tools -as you will be missing the step by step debugger and design export tools.

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