FileMaker doesn't get much respect as a business-class database--especially among Windows users. However, FileMaker has the unique benefit of working across multiple OS and hardware platforms, and the latest updates make the database even more powerful and flexible.
FileMaker is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Apple, and the general perception is that it fills a niche role as a database just for Mac OS X PCs. I'll let you in on a secret, though, FileMaker is second only to Microsoft Access as Windows database, and FileMaker sells more on Windows than it does on Mac.
More importantly, though, FileMaker Go is the number one database for the iPhone and iPad, and FileMaker provides a consistent experience between the two desktop platforms, as well as on iOS mobile devices.
Like Microsoft Access, FileMaker straddles a line with an interface that is intuitive enough for novices to use effectively, but with the power under the hood for much more complex database functions as well. This week FileMaker introduced an updated version of FileMaker Go--the iOS version of the database adding the ability to view and edit charts created with the desktop FileMaker Pro software, digital signature capture, support for AirPrint, and the ability to save data and reports in PDF format.
Because Filemaker exists for Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS, it provides the only database capable of seamless cross-platform functionality. Remote users can all use the same database simultaneously with updates being reflected in real-time.
For example, an organization can maintain an inventory database centrally, and users can connect to and access it from Mac or Windows PCs, or from an iPhone or iPad. Sales associated can capture signatures from customers digitally on an iPad, and those signatures are instantly stored in the database. Warehouse personnel can see the signed purchase order in real-time, and process the order, updating the inventory so that everyone else can see how much stock is left.
Using FileMaker in this way also enhances data security. The remote devices can connect to and work with the information in the database, but the data only actually resides on the central database. If a user's MacBook Air gets destroyed, or a sales associate's iPad is stolen, the data itself is still safe and secure on the central server.
FileMaker Go 1.2 is free for existing users and available now on the iTunes App Store. For new users, FileMaker Go for iPhone is $19.99, and FileMaker Go for iPad is $39.99. Both run on iOS 4.2.1 or later.