Filemaker 12 Announced

FileMaker 12 was released today! What’s new? Well, not a whole lot. The previous update to version 11 included some huge new features relevant to usability (Quick Find, Snapshot links, Charts, and more). FileMaker Pro 11 is fantastic! So what could they add that’s new? After checking the press release, I think Filemaker, Inc. is probably asking the same thing.

It only takes a quick glance at the “What’s New” page to realize that this update isn’t much more than design fixes, accompanied by the hard-sell on their mobile product. Speaking of their new features page, I noticed the word “design” was mentioned three times (30% of the updates), along with the blatantly-written-by-a-marketing-team term, “eye-catching.”

The new updates, from the press release:

Eye-catching layout themes – Apply one of 40 stunning new themes to instantly change the look of your database.

More design layout tools – Use new gradients, image slicing, and alignment guides to get the design precision you need.

Re-designed Starter Solutions – Manage projects, content, resources, estimates and much more with all-new, professionally designed solutions.

Enhanced container fields – Drag and drop files into your database, render images faster, and securely store and manage data externally.

Quick Charts – Create and modify charts in a snap with the new integrated set-up window.

iOS design and development tools – Get design tools, themes, scripts and calculation functions to specifically help you quickly build apps for iPad and iPhone.

Window styles – Format a window as a modal dialog or floating “palette-type” window.

Insert from URL – Download content from a URL via scripting.

Execute SQL calculation function – Perform SQL queries against your FileMaker solution.

ESS relinking – Repoint your ESS connection to a different SQL database for development and testing needs.

Although the update seems underwhelming, the changes and “features” they’ve included are very welcome. I think “Window styles” will be most helpful for the databases I create, where “New Window” and a layout change are poor attempts at creating faux-dialog boxes. But I’m also happy to see that they’re trying anything to make their layout-design element something more than hair-tearingly bad. The “image slicing” tool looks very useful for designing automatically-expanding graphics. “Drag and Drop” will be nice to have natively, but third-party companies like Troi have had plugins that do the same thing for quite a while.

The biggest news for this upgrade really has nothing to do with FileMaker Pro at all. Filemaker, Inc. is offering their mobile client FileMaker Go 12 for free (iOS devices only). The old mobile application (Filemaker Go 11) is still available for purchase (and hasn’t been discounted). What I find strange is that both iOS versions—one for the iPad, the other for iPhones/iPods—are still separate. If they’re free, why not combine them into one universal application? It seems like this is just a stunt to push their mobile application. I wouldn’t be surprised if the future iterations switch back to a pay model.

It’s also good to note that while they’ve made the application 64-bit, FileMaker Pro 12 will only open databases created from version 12—old databases need to be converted. It’s not a huge issue, but if you have a situation where it isn’t possible for every client to upgrade, you’ll have to pass on version 12.

To conclude: I find FileMaker Pro to be incredibly useful. I find the new upgrade to look slick. I find no reason to upgrade from FileMaker Pro 11. I also found no word on any improvements made on their FileMaker Pro Advanced software, although it has been upgraded to version 12, and there is this strangely lacking features matrix. Their server software also seems to have an equally underwhelming update.

I’ll give this a more thorough review once I’m able to test out version 12

This is unrelated, but has anyone noticed how much the website is an exact clone of back in the early 2000s? Right down to the chiclet menu items and the rotating news banner. Oh well, I guess they know their audience (oh and Apple does own them…almost forgot about that).

Source: Filemaker press release