Review: FileMaker Pro 10

By Wayne Kawamoto | Posted January 20, 2009

In an era when many companies slap a few alterations onto an interface and call it a “new version,” FileMaker Pro 10 bucks the trend with a solid upgrade that will appeal to both customers and developers. Even easier to use than the previous version, FMP 10 ups its game with powerful new dynamic reports and trigger scripts.

It’s the Features

Dynamic reporting capabilities offer new efficiencies and convenience. Now, when you view a grouped report and make changes, you’ll see them immediately. Also, after changing a value, the record moves to the appropriate section of the report right away. This on-the-fly feature easily beats the old and inefficient process that asked you to switch views and relied on a clumsy “preview” mode.

FileMaker Pro 10
The new Quick Start Screen offers lots of options to create new databases, to open existing ones, to browse for files and more.
(Click for larger image)
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In this latest version, script triggers are a gift from FileMaker Pro to developers. Much like applying macros, you can use script triggers to automatically run scripts that are launched by user actions such as: clicking buttons, changing values, entering data into fields and more. Script triggers let you automatically perform almost any function that FileMaker can do and offers generous options to apply logic. You can even link Script triggers together to run from a single event.

To get you started, FileMaker Pro comes with 12 predefined script triggers to automatically advance users to the next field, switch layouts and more. Indeed, script triggers are flexible tools that offer lots of potential to automate data entry, verify data and increase security.

Starting Fast


FileMaker revised the status toolbar to be more consistent with those of other well-known applications and accommodates longer names - up to 20 characters (the previous version could display only eight). You can easily customize the toolbar by dragging and dropping and adding the features that you use the most.

You can now save Find requests to be called up and used later. While it was possible to save and reuse requests in the past, you had to rely on scripts to do this.

Presenting a friendlier face on each startup, the new Quick Start Screen serves options for creating new databases or opening existing ones, as well as browsing files, remotely opening files and searching for files. It’s well designed and succeeds at offering a more intuitive interface. A new See It-Use It-Learn It feature offers a helpful demo, and a tutorial walks you through the program basics.

FileMaker Pro comes with 30 Starter Solutions that cover the database gamut to manage: contacts, inventory, expenses, faculty and staff, e-mail campaigns, time cards, student records, events, research notes, purchase orders, home budgets, movie libraries and more. We're impressed with the layouts and in-depth fields found in these applications. For example, the contact management application features a built-in Web viewer to visit Web pages and pinpoint addresses on Google maps.

With a click of a button, you can import data from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, text files or Bento data sources to create new databases. There are now 25 attractive themes to visually customize databases (this version adds ten new ones).

Reporting In

FileMaker Pro makes it easy to build reports. You simply select a layout, choose the fields that you want to include and then select from one of 25 predefined themes. The built-in layout-and-report assistant let you quickly create custom layouts, labels and reports.

FileMaker Pro 10
Thirty different starter solutions cover such tasks as managing contacts, inventory, expenses, e-mail campaigns and more.
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You can create reports in PDF or Microsoft Excel formats and e-mail them, and you can password protect the PDF files. FileMaker Pro also offers tools to create reports from information obtained from back-end systems such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle or MySQL.

FileMaker Pro still lacks graph and charting capabilities, but competently integrates with the capabilities of Microsoft Excel to make up for this. There are also third-party plug-in applications that may be added to supply these features.

Data Sharing

FileMaker Pro makes it easy to share data across a network so up to nine FileMaker Pro users (Mac or Windows) can simultaneously access a single database file. For larger groups, FileMaker Server 10 supports up to 250 simultaneous FileMaker Pro users while FileMaker Server 10 Advanced supports up to 999 people. You can also convert information into Microsoft Excel or Adobe Acrobat files and e-mailed to others.

Something that FileMaker Pro pioneered and does well is publishing databases to the Web. Here, FileMaker Pro supports up to five simultaneous Web users. And for more capability, FileMaker Server 10 Advanced supports additional Web users.

Total Database

Whether you're a customer looking for ease-of-use and intuitive design or a developer looking for the horsepower to create databases and share the data wealth, FileMaker Pro 10 makes an excellent choice.

Pricing

  • FileMaker Pro 10: $299 ($179 upgrade)
  • FileMaker Pro 10 Advanced: $499 ($299 upgrade)
  • FileMaker Server 10 $999 ($599 upgrade)
  • FileMaker Server 10 Advanced $2,999 ($1,799 upgrade)

Wayne Kawamoto has written more than 800 articles, columns and reviews about computers, new technologies, the Internet and small businesses. Wayne has also published three books about upgrading PCs, building office networks and troubleshooting notebook computers.

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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