FileMaker, Inc. introduced the next generation of their database platform today with the release of FileMaker 12. This is a major upgrade to every part of the FileMaker product line. There are new versions of FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Pro Advanced, FileMaker Server, FileMaker Server Advanced, and FileMaker Go – which is now free for iPhone and iPad.
With a powerful new file format and a broad range of major improvements, FileMaker 12 offers a whole new set of possibilities to developers and users alike. FileMaker 12’s exciting new features will enable your solutions to be faster, more powerful, more robust, more extensible and more enjoyable to use.
First, Some Thoughtful Consideration
As upgrades go, this one is fairly smooth, though not completely without some technical considerations. FileMaker 12 has a new file format, and converting a raw database from FileMaker v7 through v11 can be done automatically. However, to implement FileMaker 12, you’ll need to upgrade FileMaker Server and all FileMaker clients at the same time that you convert your older files. Also, existing plug-ins may not work without updating by their developers.
And of course, you may want some help with custom development to take advantage of many of the new features. If you feel it’s a good time to take a deep look at what your current databases are doing, and how they can take advantage of FileMaker 12, please get in touch with us.
Now, The Exciting New Possibilities
Not sure if it’s time to make the jump to the new version? We offer this perspective – a list of the top new features we’ve found the most exciting in FileMaker 12:
A Better Foundation: FileMaker Server 12
Most shared FileMaker solutions are deployed using FileMaker Server. We’re thrilled that FileMaker Server 12 features several core enhancements that make it significantly faster and more reliable. Most notably, it has been re-architected so that functionalities like serving data, web publishing and backup run in separate, independent processes. Now you can have more peace of mind knowing that mission-critical solutions will be less susceptible to slowdowns, hangs, or whatever else technology throws at you.
More Speed? Yes, Please!
FileMaker Server is now a 64-bit application. FileMaker Pro and Server are now 64-bit applications. This means that it can leverage much more of your hardware’s available resources. FileMaker Server will also perform backups incrementally, which leaves more of those resources available to users. Key operations like finding and sorting records have been optimized to minimize network traffic. You’ll notice that functions like finds and dynamic value lists are much snappier over the network in FileMaker 12.
Those of you looking at web front-ends to your FileMaker solutions will be encouraged to know that FileMaker 12 re-architected the web publishing engine. Our tests thus far have been very encouraging, especially improving speed when multiple users are involved.
Developers can garner further speed gains using new features like the light-weight CSS-like interfaces, SQL queries (see below), and the new container storage and file management features.
FileMaker Now Understands SQL Queries
FileMaker now natively exposes its tables to queries using Structured Query Language (SQL). Even if you don’t know SQL, you’ll appreciate the major boosts in power and speed that it this can bring to a solution. Developers will be even happier to find that SQL can make FileMaker-based systems much more compact and robust under the hood. The beauty for the users is that less code generally results in systems that are faster, more dependable and easier to maintain.
Making Your Media Safe and Accessible
This is a tremendous update for anyone dealing with images, videos or documents. FileMaker 12 will let you view light-weight thumbnails and even stream your content for fast viewing. It also allows you to store “container field” data in linked files, optionally encrypted, on the hard drive. This can drastically reduce the size of your database and decrease load times. Just drag your file into a container (yes, drag-and-drop was added too) and let FileMaker do the rest!
In Style With CSS
Good designers will tell you that aesthetics are an integral component of function. FileMaker 12 provides an entirely new layout design surface that brings a modern, Web 2.0 feel to layouts. Under the hood, layouts are now being styled with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) – the visual language of the web. Layout objects are still configured with graphical tools, but this web-like design approach provides developers with the tools to create much more polished and interactive user interfaces. You’ll notice new details like rounded corners, gradients and on-hover effects becoming a natural part of your solutions.
More Charts, At Your Fingertips
Decision-makers love charts. Charts have a way of distilling large sets of data into something compact and easily digestible. FileMaker 12 provides an all-new Chart Wizard, complete with previews and brand new chart formats (Stacked Bar, Positive/Negative Column, Scatter, Bubble). Users will be pleased to discover that they can even create ad hoc charts by right-clicking in a field in Table View.
Going Mobile Has Never Been Easier
The speed gains in FileMaker 12 are very pronounced in FileMaker Go on the iPhone and iPad. We’ve tested iPad solutions that, as they are being deployed, can shave hours of work off of workflows in the field. FileMaker Go 12 improves how security, multitasking and other native iOS functions can be used. And to top it all off, you can download FileMaker Go for free on iPhone or iPad!
The Bottom Line
The FileMaker 12 family brings many new features that can make your systems more robust and more enjoyable to use. It’s an exciting release, particularly for anyone looking for better media management, mobile support, network performance or simply a more stunning-looking solution.
As much as we still love FileMaker Pro 11, this is a major improvement all around. We’re particularly excited that the result of FileMaker 12’s new power, speed, and reliability isn’t just databases that can do more, but databases that are even more exciting to develop, and more enjoyable for users to use every day.
Enjoy the new possibilities of FileMaker 12!
- The Beezwax Team