FileMaker Upgrades Meeting and Task Apps

By Dan Muse | Posted April 27, 2004
Last fall, FileMaker, the Apple Computer software subsidiary best-known for its affordable FileMaker Pro database management product, introduced FileMaker Applications. The four add-on products (Meetings, Tasks, Recruiter and Donations) are designed to provide specific functions out of the box for users who don't have the time or expertise to fully exploit the features of the popular database manager.

Following last month's release of FileMaker Pro 7.0, the company today announced upgrades to two of its four add-on applications: FileMaker Meetings 2.0 and FileMaker Tasks 2.0. The meetings management and tasks management software, respectively, are designed to take advantage of the new features of FileMaker Pro 7 such as the capabilities to store and share any type of file or document (e.g., PDFs, Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint files, digital images, video, music and others) and to exchange data among FileMaker applications.

Both FileMaker Meetings 2.0 and Tasks 2.0 also support the capability to open multiple windows to give users faster and simultaneous access different views of a single database. "The new versions [of FileMaker Meeting and FileMaker Tasks] take advantage of all that is good about FileMaker Pro 7," said John Dasher, product manager, FileMaker Inc.

Add Meaning to Your Meetings
"At first, we found it hard to come up with new features for Meeting 2.0. But our customers had no trouble telling us what to add," Dasher said.

FileMaker Meetings users fall into two categories, Dasher said. "You have the individual who corrals information for the group and those who a part of team that shares database information." The features are designed to appeal to both groups, he said.

With 2.0 you can use the software's new reporting features to compile project histories or summaries of outstanding action items. For example, Dasher said, "You can now easily create a postmortem of a project, which can be tedious. It's now fast to track a project's history. You don't have to remember who was at each meeting," he said.


FileMaker Meetings 2.0
FileMaker Meetings 2.0's job is to organize all meeting-relevant information — from creating an agenda to recording and distributing meeting minutes to assigning action items — in one place.

FileMaker 2.0 users can also now save frequently used find or search criteria for later reuse. Coming up with a good search that yields the results you are looking for can be a tricky process, and this feature is designed to help users avoid having to reinvent the wheel for each search. "People don't naturally think in Boolean," said Dasher.

Taking FileMaker to Task
FileMaker Tasks 2.0 is designed to organize task-related information in one place, create and assign tasks, track tasks to completion, locate and report on tasks on demand, and communicate task-relevant details and status to the workgroup group. The new version also makes it easier to outline a project, Dasher said. "Tasks typically have many layers with related tasks. 2.0 supports sub-tasks and a takes parent-child approach."

Like Meetings 2.0, you can save "finds" in Tasks 2.0 "It's a better way to identify data you need and to marry reporting to finds," Dasher said. FileMaker Tasks 2.0 is also architected to integrate with other FileMaker applications so data can be exchanged and shared.


FileMaker Task 2.0
FileMaker Tasks 2.0 is designed to keep individuals and workgroups on track and on task by giving employees an instant, visual picture of what their work priorities.
Current users of FileMaker Meetings 1.0 or FileMaker Tasks 1.0 can upgrade to the current application for free. For first-time users, FileMaker Meetings 2.0 and FileMaker Tasks 2.0 are priced at $69 each. However, you can purchase both for $99. Both applications run on Microsoft Windows XP and Apple's Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later. However, do you need FileMaker Pro 7, which costs $299 ($149 for upgrades).

The Server Side of the Story
If your business has more than five users sharing databases, you may want to consider FileMaker Server 7($999), Dasher said. The server-based product is expected to ship this summer. "More than five users is typically the point where you would want to consider the server product. It's more efficient and offers better availability and backup," said Dasher, who offered this brief scenario for why server-based software is preferable: "What if Joe takes his laptop with the database you need on a business trip?", said Dasher. "Even worse, what if his laptop is stolen?"

With the server product, up to 250 users can simultaneously connect to a hosted database through either Windows or Mac OS versions of FileMaker Pro 7. It also secures FileMaker information that is transferred between hosted databases and desktop clients using SSL encryption.

Last week, FileMaker made available a free preview of its FileMaker Server 7, which you can download from the company's Web site. The new server software can host up to 125 table tables, supports multi-processor hardware, and works on Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Windows Server 2000 and Windows 2003 Server.

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel and EarthWeb's Networking & Communications Channel.

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