FileMaker 14 is a database platform made up of desktop based development and browsing apps, and web browser and mobile clients. The back end has the same power and capability as previous versions, but the front end has once again been improved considerably. FileMaker Pro Advanced was the version I tested. The improvements FileMaker has added in the new version make developing cross-client databases a lot easier and more streamlined. While not being a no-brainer, publishing a database in a sexy wrapper is no longer something for which you need to hire a database developer. You can easily make your database look professional and finished— even if you don’t have a degree in user interface design — with this latest version.
FileMaker 14 offers a unified and flexible user experience across all platforms it runs on. Its support for mobile tablets is great. I tried it with my iPad Air 2 and it looks, behaves and feels like a native Apple-made app in every respect. The downside is that you’ll have to create mobile versions of your database front end, preferably ones that exploit every platform’s own strengths. However, it’s just as simple as designing a website for mobile clients.
If you don’t want to offer mobile client apps, then perhaps the Web browser alternative is your cup o’ tea — if you have FileMaker Server. The WebDirect toolbar looks just like the FileMaker desktop application’s toolbar that blends in wonderfully with Yosemite. Specifically for mobile devices, though, you’ll get larger tap areas, sliding menus that make features easier to access for your users, and auto-collapsing menu items that adapt to the orientation of the device.
Buttons have been made mobile aware as well. A new button bar allows you to create groups of buttons that maintain their proportions as you resize the viewing window. And speaking of buttons: I always found it a pain to come up with icons designed to my liking. No more with FileMaker 14. Icons come with the app — 140 of them — and they are gorgeously designed. Well, perhaps not to the taste of everybody, but you’re still free to use your own.
Even if you can use your own button icons, you’d be advised to use the same type of icon as the included ones can be set to change colour conditionally, which I found to give a really professional look to a database. Another improvement is how you can design your navigation. In FileMaker 14, you can just use a static navigation part (top and bottom) that remains in place, even when you scroll.
In-field labels also result in a more professional look. These also reduce screen clutter a lot. Colour selection now adds some colour design theory put into practice: the colour palette will display a set of colours that go well with the theme you’re currently working on, based on a colour you just selected. Complementary as well as adjacent colours will automatically show up in a separate “well”. If you need to coordinate your colour scheme with a specific colour, like your logo’s or a Pantone colour, for example, FileMaker 14 now supports HEX values to make that possible. Actually including Pantone libraries would have made the job perhaps even easier, but HEX values will do the job too.
For developers the script workspace has been overhauled completely. It’s now a full-blown developing environment with syntax colouring, line numbers and more. Writing a script still requires enough knowledge of scripting and programming logic by itself, but auto-completion, shortcuts and descriptions make the task much easier.
The Advanced version of FileMaker shares in all of these improvements and new features, but the Advanced workflow has been left untouched. You can still do the same, the same way. Finally, for FileMaker Go’s new features, there is the ability to include signature capture for tablets like the iPad, and the ability to enable touch keyboards via a script.
FileMaker Pro 14 is yet again a step towards a database platform that makes database publishing a breeze, while replacing the traditional database look with a sexy user interface that supports typical OS X functionality like drag-and-drop and conditional icon colouring. The great news is that it doesn’t make developers’ jobs more difficult. FileMaker 14 Pro Advanced costs approx. €500.00.