When it comes to database management, the FileMaker suite is king. Even in an era of free, web-based productivity tools many individuals, businesses and other organizations need something more robust.
FileMaker Pro is for those. It is heavy-duty software designed to track and maintain large amounts of data. It is an incredibly powerful tool, yet definitely targeted for individuals and organizations with the time and resources to engage all of its features.
Many of the basic features are very easy to discover. For example, newbies will find the best place to begin is the Quick Start. This handy menu allows users to create a new database from scratch, convert an existing file, or use a starter edition with a pre-designed template. Seasoned FileMaker users can disable this screen. The templates are categorized by business, home, or education.
With Home Budget, as in other categories, FileMaker automatically calculates figures and identifies numbers as dollar amounts. Many of the templates will meet users’ needs without much manipulation. However, there are many different categorization options for those who need to customize things.
FileMaker 11 improves on its previous version in some substantial ways. For example, with just a few steps users can easily make a chart. The data can be displayed differently, such as a pie or bar chart. Unlike with other programs, being able to whip up a graphic or chart such as this can be an incredibly powerful way to represent data.
Also, the new Table view organizes content in tables, much like spreadsheets. While power FileMaker users from the past may not be as hip to the changes, it makes the UI much more appealing and easy to navigate for new users.
For the more advanced, there are a substantial amount of scripts available for tinkering with. In fact, much of the feature set is likely beyond the everyday user. Those who have less advanced database needs should consider Bento, another excellent database program more geared toward consumers.
FileMaker Go for iPhone
The FileMaker experience has extended to iOS. Larger operations may want to spring for the FileMaker server for seamless access to the entire database. Otherwise accessing files must be done by e-mailing them back and forth.
The iPhone version has a surprising number of powerful features, enabling editing and access to all of the files through tapping, pinching and zooming.
Mac or Windows users that also have an iOS device may find merit in FileMaker Go. Should you wish to share the file, it can be sent via email as a PDF.
One other thing to consider: the iPhone and iPad versions are each a separate download cost.
FileMaker Go for iPad
The iPad version is much easier to use than the iPhone alternative, mostly given its larger screen. It would be ideal for organizations that deploy iPads to their employees, making it convenient to update information to a file while
Small or large businesses with significant database needs will not be sorry if they go with FileMaker. Individuals or organizations who may find the FileMaker suite to be overkill could do well with Bento. While FileMaker will certainly take a learning curve, the end result is something that most organizations will be happy with.
- Impressive feature set
- Best option for managing large databases of information
Off the Mark:
- Expensive (Mac/Windows version is $299)
- No full-screen support