FileMaker Ships Add-On Programs
FileMaker is releasing a pair of packaged business applications based on the FileMaker database, the first of a series of add-ons from the company and third-party developers.
The first two add-ons are FileMaker Meetings, an organizational tool, priced at $49, and FileMaker Recruiter, a vertical use application designed to help manage job applications, priced at $299. The applications will run only with FileMaker 6,
FileMaker Meetings is designed to use the database structure to help people prepare data and manage information from meetings more efficiently, says John Dasher, product manager for FileMaker applications.
"We're not trying to solve scheduling issues, but organizational and management issues," he says. The Meetings template helps users build an agenda, manage the meeting, document and track actions, and even generate minutes. Users can route the material to the appropriate people through an e-mail template to common e-mail programs, including Outlook, Eudora, and the Mac-only programs Entourage and Apple Mail.
"I've been using it, and instead of having just my e-mail out-basket to search, I have a coordinated database of notes," Dasher says. "Also, it has brought a level of discipline. My meetings result in e-mail that is much more useful."
FileMaker developers interviewed many professional and in-house recruiters to get specs for FileMaker Recruiter, Dasher says. The program helps users build a database network of people, through a template with fields appropriate for a personnel recruiter and manager.
For example, a user enters names and contact information for people, including the source of the introduction, and builds a network of contacts. "Over time you start to be able to identify your most productive sources, through the relationships between people," Dasher says. A ready database of people helps a recruiter place candidates more quickly.
This template also interfaces with e-mail and helps track the progress of a search. Because a database is the underlying engine, it's easy to sort information and generate reports as needed, Dasher says.
Both new programs will ship "unlocked," so users can modify them to their own needs, Dasher says. The company hopes the ready-made applications will help expand FileMaker's usefulness in firms that may not be able to develop a custom application.
"This is also an opportunity for a developer program," Dasher says. FileMaker tipped off prospective developers at its recent conference, and the plan was well received by the 1200 attendees, he says. "It's an opportunity for extension work for them," he says.
FileMaker also plans to release more add-on applications, some shipping before year's end, Dasher says. In the works is a template for database management by charitable and nonprofit organizations, or any business that solicits and tracks donations. "We know from our FileMaker customers that this sort of database often gets hacked together, so a well-thought-out one would be a big hit with that crowd," Dasher says.
Also in development are a task-management tool for workgroups, which Dasher calls "a to-do list on steroids," and a sales management program. An e-mail template engine will be part of both of these. "Communication is at the core of these applications," he says.
FileMaker plans to release all applications in versions for both Windows and the Mac. Making the new applications compatible only with FileMaker 6 is a nudge to get customers to upgrade to the current version, Dasher adds.