Popular Desktop Database Gets a Major Makeover

By Patricia Fusco | Posted March 09, 2004

Desktop databases offer simple, flexible solutions for organizing, storing and retrieving information. A good desktop database program is often a sufficient solution for building an uncomplicated data organizational system for a small business.

While Microsoft Access may be found on more business computers than FileMaker Pro, credit should go to Microsoft's success in software bundling, not necessarily its desktop database programming. When it comes to ease of use, FileMaker Pro is acclaimed for possessing the easiest layout design system available. As a result, FileMaker Pro standalone database programs actually outsell Access by 20 percent.

In it's most significant software refresh ever, FileMaker today announced the immediate availability of FileMaker Pro 7, featuring new functions a small business can really sink its teeth into, such as breakthroughs in ease-of-use and customizability.

No Tech? No Problem
Ryan Rosenberg, FileMaker vice president of marketing and services, said the company takes pride in using technology to solve business problems, but that technology requires a friendly face if the information management tools are to be actively utilized by small businesses.


"FileMaker 7 is made for the knowledge worker," Rosenberg said. "Knowledge workers are folks that take pride in technology and experiment with it to solve specific business problems when little or no help from IT staff is available."

Organizations of all shapes and sizes use FileMaker Pro — more than 9 million units have been shipped to date. Certainly governmental agencies, educational institutions and non-profit organizations use FileMaker Pro because it's cost-effective to do so, but 46 percent of small businesses with fewer than 100 employees choose FileMaker Pro because it's a dependable, complete database solution that's easy to use.

"FileMaker Pro takes scattered information and brings it together in one easy-to-use database," Rosenberg said. "It's sophisticated technology that gives small businesses the ability to manage related data by simply dragging, dropping, and clicking."

Data Bake Sale
One small business that has tapped into FileMaker Pro is the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. Known for its distinctive handmade breads, the small business put FileMaker Pro to work organizing its unique recipes into a readily accessible database. Monica Von Thun Calderón, a Sullivan Baker business partner, said what started as a way to prepare small batches of artisan style baked goods evolved into a database system that manages nearly every operational aspect of the small business.

"We had the problem of tracking orders, converting them into batches of dough to be made and then counting the number of loaves that would be produced. At the same time we wanted to track our inventory of products being consumed in the production of bread. We also had to deal with the cash register, employees clocking in and out, inventory of items for resale in our store, monthly reports for our accountant, and so on," she said. "Instead of using several different programs we consolidated our systems through FileMaker Pro because we wanted the entire system to be user friendly for all of our staff."

FileMaker Pro 7 Relates Data Well Something New
FileMaker Pro 7 has retained its user-friendly interface, but its programming power has evolved into a sophisticated relational database. FileMaker Pro 7 is more customizable than ever before. Users can store and share any types of files or documents, including PDFs, Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint files, digital images, video, music and more.

Also new is the ability to open multiple windows in the same database to give users faster and simultaneous access different views of their information. For example, it's now a lot easier to compare and contrast East Coast and West Coast sales of similar items.

FileMaker Pro 7, for Windows and Mac OS X, has been redesigned using a modern, streamlined relational architecture, which enables users to simplify information management by storing multiple tables within a single file. The new Relationships Graph presents a visual "map" of the database and lets users create and modify relationships with a simple click and drag tool (shown below). To keep pace with rich-media management and other sophisticated solutions, FileMaker Pro 7 dramatically expanded its data capacity to 8 terabytes per file or 4,000 times the old limit.

Among its many advances, FileMaker Pro 7 also delivers easier to read, more informative reports with calculation-based formatting, along with new background and portal options. To ensure more accurate data entry and safer updates, users can opt to confirm and record any layout changes before they are saved.

Pricing and Availability
FileMaker also unveiled an entirely new product line, which includes FileMaker Pro 7 and FileMaker Developer 7 (now shipping), FileMaker Server 7, FileMaker Server 7 Advanced and FileMaker Mobile 7 (all planned to ship in early summer).

FileMaker Pro 7 is available now at $299; $149 for upgrades. FileMaker Developer 7 is also available now at $499; $399 after $100 upgrade rebate. FileMaker is offering owners of early versions of FileMaker an extended upgrade program. For a limited time — until September 17, 2004 — licensed owners of FileMaker Pro 2.1, 3.0, 4.x and 5.x may upgrade to FileMaker Pro 7 at the same low upgrade price that FileMaker 6 owners are eligible for — just $149 — a 50 percent savings off the regular purchase price. After September 17, 2004, only licensed owners of FileMaker Pro 6 will be eligible for the $149 upgrade price.

FileMaker Server 7, will be priced at $999; $499 on the upgrade and Server 7 Advanced will be priced at $2,499; $1,499 for the upgrade, both of which are expected to ship in early summer. FileMaker Mobile 7 will be priced at $69; $35 for an upgrade and is also planned for shipment in early summer.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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