Why FileMaker™?

Of all the database applications out there, FileMaker has numerous advantages.

Firstly it is cross platform which means it runs on Windows, Macs and IOS devices, using FileMaker Go (which I refer to as a thin client).  This gives any company that is using it multiple deployment options and can be used on a mixed network effortlessly.  Compare this to Microsoft’s Access which only runs on Windows.

And before you ask, no, it doesn’t run on Android (hell will freeze over before that happens) but, you can run the Windows version of it on tablets like Surface Pro. FileMaker also has its own web technology, called WebDirect, which means that you can develop a solution, install it on FileMaker Server, and then access that through any web browser (without those users having to install FileMaker on their machines).  WebDirect pretty faithfully reproduces the interface that the developer has designed and puts it straight on the web page.  Sure, it has its limitations, but it is a phenomenal tool and is only going to get better.

Secondly FileMaker is a RADE (Rapid Application Development Environment) which means that you can develop a solution incredibly quickly in comparison to other programs.  Not only does this mean that a solution can be deployed quicker, but it also keeps the development costs down.  I have no empirical evidence to support this, but my best guess is that developing a solution in FileMaker is 5 times quicker than anything else out there that does the same job.

Thirdly, FileMaker has some of the best design tools (tab panels, sliding panels, popovers, etc.)  that I’ve ever come across, which allows developers, who have a good eye for design, to come up with stunning and attractive interfaces.  It also has themes (which I was against in the 1st place) but which I’ve now come to love; not for the standard themes but for the ability to create your own theme, and then use that theme over and over again, or to re-skin a complete solution very quickly by simply modifying the theme elements.  Once again this is a massive time saver.  (For people who don’t have an eye for design, they can use one of the many standard themes to create a solution that is eminently usable.  In the old days, before Themes, many solutions looked like, as we say in the UK, a dogs dinner).

Fourthly, FileMaker allows creativity by being incredibly flexible.  This may seem like a strange comment but, when somebody tells you that you can do anything with FileMaker, they aren’t that far from the truth.  The environment is really easy to use and work in and, because of the speed that things can be done in, it is easy to experiment with different ways of doing things, until you come up with the optimum solution.

Fifthly, the relationship structure is fairly easy to get to grips with.  Yes, you’ve got to understand context, but relating two tables is, for the most part, as simple as drawing a line, between two table occurrences, using key fields on both sides of the relationship.  Multiple predicate relationships are also incredibly easy to create.  You can also, if you know what you’re doing, use the list function to get a series of values from one relationship and then use those values in other relationships but, now we’re getting really technical, and off the point.

FileMaker itself has been around since the mid-1980s, which gives it incredible longevity in the world of software.  Numerous other database solutions have come and gone, and FileMaker is still here.  Now, there are people who will tell you that FileMaker is a kids tool, suitable for nothing more than address book functionality.  These people are mired in the past and, probably, haven’t looked at FileMaker since its early days when it was limited in functionality.

Having said that though, in 1987 I built a budgeting solution, in FileMaker, that handled the annual budgeting process of a major UK corporation, doing in 2 days what had previously taken an entire department of 9 people, 6 weeks annually.  It had power then, and it has enormous power now, thanks to the incredibly talented engineers at FileMaker itself ,who release a new version every 18 months to 2 years.  We are now on FileMaker 14 which is incredible and a joy to work with.

I will say that IT Departments are often prejudiced against FileMaker; it doesn’t fit in with their preconceptions, and they will try to avoid installing or supporting it.  Some of them, and I can say this with absolute truth from my own experience, feel threatened by it because a skilled developer can deliver a solution, in a very short amount of time, which makes them look bad, if they’ve told their bosses that it either can’t be done, or it would take a very long time for them to develop what their bosses want.  (They also don’t like the idea of an outsider coming in).

Is FileMaker a perfect solution for every business?  Of course not but I firmly believe it is suitable for about 95% of them.  It’s especially useful for individual departments (with a large corporation) that need something for their own department and they need it right away; not in 2 years down the line.

I hope this short post was useful.  If you’d like to talk FileMaker, please feel free to give me a call at (303) 856 5778 or contact me HERE.

Don Clark of FileMaker Pro Gurus added a few great points which I’m reproducing here:

FileMaker’s flexibility allows powerful reporting capabiliites, giving the user the data they need when they need it.

FileMaker is a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple, and has been for over 20 years.  The commitment to excellence and to driving the platform forward has never been more evident.

FileMaker can ‘talk’ to just about any other computer language in the world, using a variety of tools: XML, REST, Javascript, MMPURL and more.  So it’s not isolated from the world in any way.

Thanks, Don.

Finally, if you need a compelling argument as to why companies should be using FileMaker, watch this video

or read the full post HERE.

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