Apple subsidiary FileMaker is releasing version 12 of its popular database offering, bringing to market an update that includes numerous features that extend the high-design Apple aesthetic to the database.
One of the principal goals of the FileMaker 12 product line is to "eradicate ugly databases," according to Ryan Rosenberg, FileMaker's vice president of marketing and services.
"This new version makes it very easy for anybody to create a beautiful database," Rosenberg said. "One of the key points of this release is design."
The FileMaker 12 suite supports databases and apps that run on both the Mac and Windows platforms plus the Web, and the FileMaker Go apps, now available as free downloads on iTunes, make the database accessible on the iPad and iPhone. Previously, the FileMaker iPad app sold for $40, and the iPhone app cost $20.
FileMaker Pro12 includes 16 so-called starter solutions that essentially offer templates for database applications such as content management, invoicing, inventory management or project management. Those ready-made solutions are meant to facilitate the creation of highly functional, visually pleasing databases, whose design can then be tweaked with a stock of 40 themes included in FileMaker 12, which users can either apply to the starter solutions or to their existing databases.
Filemaker Version 12 aims to "eradicate ugly databases."
"For a number of people, this is FileMaker. This is as far as you need to go," Rosenberg said of the pre-configured design features. But FileMaker 12 also offers a menu of options to customize the starter solutions and themes, such as gradients and configurable grids. "One of the secrets of FileMaker is we always allow people to drop in and take as much control as they want," Rosenberg added.
The iPad Influence
FileMaker 12 offers specific touch themes for the iPad and iPhone that incorporate elements of the iOS design such as fonts and colors. Rosenberg explained that the extension of a robust version of FileMaker databases to all iOS devices is another chief aim of the latest release.
"Because of the iPad and iPhone, people's expectations are changing," he said.
"What people expect when they build databases hasn't changed much in many years," Rosenberg added. "The iPad and iPhone have changed their expectations."
While FileMaker has established its presence in the enterprise market, Rosenberg explained that small businesses are the most frequent downloaders of the company's free products, in large part because the firm strives for a simple and intuitive design and implementation. And even within enterprise environments, FileMaker is often deployed in smaller, segmented business units that operate very much like small businesses under a corporate umbrella.
"We're very, very strong in small business," Rosenberg said. "We're never going to do transaction processing for a bank -- that's not FileMaker."
Beyond the new design aspects, the FileMaker 12 line also includes a number of functional advances. For instance, the product line offers new features to help users manage and access large, multimedia files such as audio and video, which can now be streamed to connected client devices through the FileMaker Server product.
FileMaker Server 12 and the premium FileMaker Server Advanced have also been re-tooled with 64-bit versions that boast expanded memory access and improved network performance.
FileMaker 12 offers both storage within the database and access to linked files outside of the database, and the new version will also automatically organize files on disk and encrypt them.
The updated product line also features progressive backups, which only back up the changes that users have made to the database. As a result, instead of running a comprehensive backup each night, FileMaker 12 backs up incremental changes every five minutes.
Additionally, an automatic updating feature ensures that all users, including workers accessing the contents of the database remotely, will see identical versions of the business's data and applications.
FileMaker Pro 12 costs $299 for new customers and $179 as an upgrade. FileMaker Pro 12 Advanced sells for $499, or $299 for an upgrade. FileMaker Server 12 costs $999, or $599 for an upgrade, and the FileMaker Server 12 Advanced carries a price of $2,999, or $1,799 for the upgrade.
The FileMaker 12 line is available immediately.
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. You can find Kenneth on LinkedIn.
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