FileMaker is a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple, Inc. It provides a comprehensive Platform used to design, build, deploy and manage data-driven business solutions for Mac, Windows, iPad and iPhone and the web.. I spoke with Ryan Rosenberg, VP of Marketing, to get a better understanding of the FileMaker Platform. We also discussed how companies are using the Platform to create custom business solutions for iPad and iPhone and Ryan demonstrated some of the ease of use features of the environment.
Ryan said that FileMaker Pro is the number one database on the Mac OS and number two on Windows behind Access. They have shipped over 18 million copies of FileMaker Pro. In fact, the Windows market is their largest. FileMaker apps can be expanded to thousands of users. It is designed for business apps. FileMaker Go for iPad and FileMaker Go for iPhone, the leading iOS databases, are both free on the iTunes App store
They also develop Bento, an entry-level personal database software for solo businesses owners, which is available on the Apple App store and Bento 4 for iPad and Bento 4 for iPhone available in the productivity section of the iTunes App store.
Ryan said that over 500,000 copies of FileMaker Go have been downloaded so far and that most of these deployments are found within small, medium and large organizations. He gave the example of the Austin Texas Convention Center that I know well from last year’s SXSW. The crews that set up booths can make adjustments on their iPads by drawing the modifications and these changes are communicated automatically to the central admin people. I can see the benefit of this. Now they need to help with the registration process as it took several hours and long lines at the 2012 SXSW. Ryan also mentioned another great use case, the Benetton stores. Here clerks carry iPads running FileMaker Go for iPad and can check inventory without having to go to a backroom. I imagine this is a common use case in many stores, or will become one.
Ryan showed me a coffee shop solution that allows you to create custom coffee grinds through a visual interface. He also showed me a driving test sample solution that allows the tester to check off an applicants progress and diagram incidents on a traffic grid. This latter one eliminates a lot of paper and makes record keeping much more efficient.
You can also integrate mobile solutions into existing enterprise and departmental systems and then make updates. Ryan showed me how you can make changes in the desktop version and have it immediately appear in the iPad version. Data updates can go in both directions back and forth from field sales people and the home office, for example. You can also manage and secure solutions using industry-standard authentication. There is no coding required for solution development so the business users can do self-service and not rely on programmers.
FileMaker is a complete Platform for creating, deploying, and managing data-driven business apps. Design is key for iPad and iPhone solutions, as the expectations are high. FileMaker includes flexible design tools that let developers take total control of the screen. You can create an attractive product configuration display, an inviting registration screen for an event, a useful executive dashboard, or a comprehensive facilities management App. FileMaker also features native iPad and iPhone clients so you can deliver the full native iOS experience.
On the business side, FileMaker has a powerful framework based on a full-featured relational database model, with integrated workflow, business logic, searching, sorting and data validation. The framework includes many features to take advantage of the iPad and iPhone such as on-device charting, report generation, PDF generation, email integration, printing support, signature capture, location support, camera support and more. Ryan showed me how to make an update where sales over a certain profit level appear in red. It was done in seconds and communicated to all connected devices immediately. You can see the process in the two screens below.
Ryan also showed me how to set up a signature capture field within an app. You can see the process in the two screens below.
If you need help, an extensive third party ecosystem has evolved with more than 1,100 consulting firms worldwide in FileMaker’s Business Alliance of independent FileMaker database developers offering customized database development and training. The company offers developers certified training. There are also hundreds of 3rd party tools and frameworks for the FileMaker Platform providing integration such as with popular accounting packages, enabling point-of-sale credit card transactions, delivering vertical application frameworks and more.
There is also the FileMaker Technical Network, with over 30,000 active members. FileMaker products are available in 17 languages
I was very impressed with the capabilities, ease of use and support. I can see why FileMaker is so popular.