Data is the fuel that drives business, and the database is the engine that runs it all. But, just as most people would rather drive a hot new Ferrari than a rusty, dented 1972 Ford Pinto, users are more likely to put the database to use if it looks good.
The new FileMaker 12 promises to make it easier than ever to create sensational databases that look good across multiple platforms and devices. FileMaker–a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple—makes the FileMaker database software, and the Bento personal organizer.
Although FileMaker is owned by Apple, it is not completely Apple-centric. FileMaker also works with Windows and offers a solid alternative to Microsoft’s Access database.
Here are four features of the new FileMaker that may make it the database your business should run on:
1. Starter Solutions and Themes
Let’s face it—most of us aren’t great graphic designers, and lack the gene that enables us to create a database with an impressive look and feel that also delivers an intuitive user experience. FileMaker 12 comes with 16 Starter Solutions—pre-packaged database layouts designed for different purposes, such as inventory, project management, contacts, etc.
FileMaker 12 also has 40 professionally designed themes to give the database a distinctive look and feel. You’re not stuck with the themes as is, though–you can start with a theme and customize virtually every aspect of it.
Both the Starter Solutions and themes are also designed with iOS in mind. The Starter Solutions include options that are optimized for iPhone and iPad displays, and the themes offer choices that are designed for the touch input on an iOS device.
2. Embedded Multimedia
Data–in and of itself–can be boring. You know–the whole “a picture tells a thousand words” thing, and all that. FileMaker has added enhanced container fields in FileMaker 12 that enable you to drag and drop multimedia content into your database.
Video clips, audio recordings, documents, PDFs, and images can be easily embedded or linked in FileMaker 12. For larger files, the software can work in partnership with FileMaker Server. FileMaker 12 will automatically generate a thumbnail and link to the content, but the file itself will remain on the server and be streamed on demand.
With iOS devices, users can record video or audio directly into database multimedia container fields. FileMaker 12 also works with the AirPlay feature of iOS to stream content from an iPhone or iPad for viewing on a larger display.
3. Faster Performance
FileMaker has introduced 64-bit versions of the FileMaker Server line. 64-bit applications are capable of addressing more memory, and can process large database files much faster.
FileMaker has also made a number of other improvements with FileMaker Server. The new versions promise better performance across the network, faster and more stable integration with Web pages, and streamlined administration with new backup features.
4. iOS Apps
Despite claims from many that Apple’s iPhone and iPad are not suitable for business, the reality is that iOS devices are being used in businesses of all shapes and sizes. Do you have iPhones and iPads in your environment?
If the answer is “yes”, that may be one of the strongest arguments for taking a long, serious look at FileMaker. With other database options, your remote users may struggle to access and work with data while on the go. FileMaker, however, provides apps for the iPhone and iPad that deliver an experience optimized for iOS that seamlessly integrates with the backend database.
All FileMaker 12 products are immediately available. FileMaker 12 starts at $299 for the Pro version ($179 for the upgrade version). The iPhone and iPad apps are available for free from the Apple App Store.