Best Buy
  • Price: 219 . 119

  • Company: FileMaker

  • Pros: Increased capacity, improved relational architecture, instant Web publishing, tighter security, new safety options, multiple window views and enhanced file management.

  • Cons: More Undo levels would be welcome and the Web compatibility for scripts is limited with regards to media container fields.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

FileMaker seems to be aiming straight at the content creation market with version 7 of this database solution. There is a new field type called a Container that can be used to store digital pictures, movies, music, and other digital media – up to 4GB per field.

It’s not only for the creative side of the business though, as the Container field can handle Word documents, full Excel spreadsheets, PDF files, PowerPoint presentation files, OLE objects, and more. You can control how FileMaker Pro displays image and file icons in container fields, setting it to crop the image or resizing it to fit the field you’ve created.

FileMaker seems to be aiming straight at the content creation market with version 7 of this database solution. There is a new field type called a Container that can be used to store digital pictures, movies, music, and other digital media – up to 4GB per field. It’s not only for the creative side of the business though, as the Container field can handle Word documents, full Excel spreadsheets, PDF files, PowerPoint presentation files, OLE objects, and more. You can control how FileMaker Pro displays image and file icons in container fields, setting it to crop the image or resizing it to fit the field you’ve created.

You have the option to store the image or movie in the field or store only a reference, as the database is likely to get rather large. Thanks to the significantly expanded database and field size limits, you are able to store up to eight terabytes of information, depending on your hard disk capacity. This is 4,000 times the storage limit of older versions and opens the way for use of FileMaker Pro in CG, video, and film production. This is not too wild an idea: Pixar and ILM feature on FileMaker’s Web site.

FileMaker Pro 7 uses a new file format that encompasses all your various database tables in a single file, instead of storing them in multiple files as before. You can quickly convert or migrate files from older versions into FileMaker 7 format. The basic interface hasn’t changed from the previous version, with four modes to work with data – Browse, Find, Layout, and Preview. However, there has been a big change in the way FileMaker handles data. Databases are now able to become relational with a few clicks of a mouse. Relational databases mean you can display a related list of data from another table or file based on any association of that data with your current database – so you could store proposals within client records, for example.

The improved relational architecture means that you can link data by just drawing a line in the new Relationships graph. This is accessed via the familiar File>Define menu command and brings up a graphic view of the data fields stored in the various tables within your database. Just find an equivalent field containing matching records in both tables, then click-&-drag from one to the other. An indicator line appears between the two to show a relationship has been created. The relationship can be edited at any time by clicking on the line.

Simple sharing

Web support has been improved with the addition of an Instant Web Publishing command in the Sharing menu. This simplifies the act of putting your entire database on the Web. Once it’s there (and you’ve assigned access) users with administrative privileges can add, edit, or delete records, in addition to viewing the information in any layout you’ve created. Luckily, security has been beefed up too. Account Names and Passwords are now used to control custom privileges for each user, restricting access and specifying what they can view and edit, and all desktop security settings are carried through to the database published on the Web.

Other changes to the architecture include the ability to open multiple windows for the same database simultaneously. This gives faster access to your information – and you can open as many new windows as your monitor can handle.

Previously FileMaker Pro saved a file when it was opened or closed, even if no changes were made to the file. In this version, minor changes such as displaying a different record or layout, sorting records, or modifying a sort order have no effect on the file and won’t be saved when you close it. However, if you open a file, add a new record, perform a find, and then close the file, FileMaker Pro will save the found set as well as the new record with the file.

FileMaker offers a simple way to organize information – even the scripting is easy, with a host of behaviours to choose. You can send emails, run a report or importing images, and it’s easy to attach scripts to buttons. Another useful asset is context sensitive help, which pops open on the page relating to the dialog window you are working in. There are 30 starter templates to help you solve you business problems, some of which are quite complex, and all can be modified to fit your own way of working.