FileMaker, the popular database application platform from the Apple subsidiary of the same name, fully embraces mobile work styles with the release of version 14.
Among the most obvious upgrades is how the product renders applications on mobile devices, particularly the iPad and the iPhone. "We place a lot of importance not just on how your database functions, but how it looks, said Kevin Mallon, senior public relations manager at FileMaker, while describing his company's design ethos.
During a live demonstration, a self-authored app rendered with pixel-perfect precision in the new free FileMaker Go 14 mobile software available on the Apple App Store. Options include full-screen modes that you can invoke with a script or a swipe gesture—useful for hiding the user interface. New playback controls open up new opportunities for incorporating video and audio into the user experience.
No iPad? No problem.
FileMaker also went to work on improving WebDirect, which allows businesses to "publish and experience a desktop application on your Web browser," said Mallon. The interface automatically adjusts to a mobile browser's on-screen real estate. A touch-friendly toolbar similarly adapts to portrait or landscape mode or changes in screen size while new context-sensitive menus group items and options logically.
FileMaker 14 Closes the Web Performance Gap
One common complaint about Web applications is that people often end up twiddling their thumbs as the virtual gears grind away, at least compared to desktop applications. WebDirect and FileMaker Server 14 now provide a snappier, more responsive app experience.
WebDirect displays Web-optimized layouts up to 25 percent faster, according to the company's tests. Growing small businesses can also add more users now that it supports 100 concurrent connections—double the previous limit.
The FileMaker Server Admin Console's beefed-up security helps keep you more secure with stronger password controls. And if you end up in a cellular dead zone or fall victim to wonky Wi-Fi, FileMaker Server 14 quickly reconnects you, letting you quickly resume your work without jumping through hoops.
Finally, FileMaker Server 14 offers small businesses some enterprise-grade application availability. A new standby server option essentially lets organizations "set up a standby server that basically acts as a mirror," Mallon told Small Business Computing. "If for some reason the primary server goes down, [the administrator] can switch all his users to the standby server."
You can also expect a more consistent experience, regardless of whether you use FileMaker on a tablet, smartphone, Windows PC, Mac or a browser. A customizable, icon-based launch center does away with digging through menus and dialog boxes.
Filemaker 14: What's Under the Hood
Also new is a revamped Script Workspace, which users and developers rely on to automate business tasks, according to Vin Addala, product manager at FileMaker. FileMaker blended the advanced functionality of a modern integrated development environment (IDE) with a guided, point-and-click workflow and a streamlined interface. Features include inline help, automated command lookup and auto-complete, to name a few.
The result is a tool that both nonprogrammers and experienced codesmiths can use to provide their users with custom, online apps for their businesses. "Build solutions in FileMaker, and we do all the work in the background and publish it to the Web as a Web 2.0 application," Addala said.
The release of FileMaker 14 also coincides with a major milestone for the company.
Thirty Years and Counting
FileMaker is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its flagship product, FileMaker Pro. It's been 30 years since a Massachusetts-based startup first helped entrepreneurs unlock the power of computing to automate business processes, manage tasks, track inventory and more. To date, the company has sold more than 20 million copies of FileMaker Platform products.
Now an Apple subsidiary, FileMaker continues the tradition in a vastly different IT landscape. In a statement, Ryan Rosenberg, vice president of marketing and services for FileMaker, said the latest release "is the culmination of 30 years of helping customers exploit the latest platforms—from Mac and Windows then [and] through iOS devices and mobile Web browsers today—meeting users' rising expectations for data accessibility, simplicity and mobility."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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