Filemaker 15 - what's new?

Filemaker Mobility

Filemaker Mobility

Filemaker 15 is the 2016 annual  update.

We take a look to see if anything here makes this version different from the normal (some might say cynical) marketing excercise of selling more licences. 

The last major overhall was in version 12.  Each successive version since then has seen minor enhancements, functional updates and some new features.  Version 15 of Filemaker seems to be a similar minor upgrade in real terms however there are some highlights which will have Filemaker enthusiasts and developers rejoicing.

The updates are grouped into 5 Sections which on the face of it sounds promising:

  1. Mobility
  2. Automation and Integration
  3. Ease of use
  4. Security
  5. Performance

Scratching the surface though the offer under each of these headings seems quite 'thin' but we've document them all and leave you to draw your own conclusions about whether or not you figure it's worth the cost of upgrading all your licences....

If you're thinking about buying Filemaker for the first time... Just do it... There is nothing remotely like it it terms of power or capability.


For everyone else - this isn't a review per se, it's more of an assessment of the marginal benefit of this version over the previous version.


Mobility

App Extensions - integrate with other apps on your iPhone

Send files from Filemaker to cloud based storage 

iBeacon support

Touch ID support - so your touch ID on iPhone will unlock databases - Good

3D Touch support - filemaker now supports 3D touch in devices that support it.

This is welcome news: 

Filemaker Webdirect mobile phone support - the WebDirect interface is responsive for iPhone 6 family, and Android 5" with a minimum of 1.4GHz Quad Core processor with 2GB RAM

 

Summary: Mobility

Filemaker expands support for iOS features and makes WebDirect relevant for big iPhones and Android Devices.... Steps in the right direction but not many steps....

 


Automation & Integration

  • Highlighted script errors - Errors in a script go red.  Helpful but really should have done this anyway!
  • Undo scripting - ditto point above.
  • In-product updates - ditto point above
  • ESS Adapter: erm...

So. ESS: What is it?

Filemaker Say: Create live connections to SQL data sources with FileMaker Pro.

We say:  A new name for the existing SQL connectivity... 

They say: The External SQL Data Source feature establishes a live two-way connection between FileMaker Pro and top SQL data sources.

This is not a new feature but it is really useful especially if you're interested in connecting Filemaker to corporate databases or Wordpress websites then this is really helpful:  Here is more from Filemaker:

Create custom apps in FileMaker Pro
that include data from:

  • An external SQL data source
  • Multiple external SQL data sources
  • FileMaker Pro and external SQL data source(s)
  • Provide an alternative to ODBC/JDBC for importing and exporting data from FileMaker Pro 
  • Enable the use of FileMaker Pro as a reporting tool for external SQL data sources

What external SQL data sources are certified for FileMaker 15?

  • MS SQL Server 2008 R2
  • MS SQL Server 2012
  • MS SQL Server 2012 SP1
  • MySQL 5.6 Community Edition (free)
  • Oracle 12c R1
  • Oracle 11g R2
  • IBM i 7.1 (AS/400) (via Actual Technologies Adapter)
  • IBM DB2 10.5 (via Actual Technologies Adapter)
  • PostgreSQL 9.4.4 (via Actual Technologies Adapter)

 

Summary of 'Automation and Integration'

Some nice developments of minor interest to developers and a rehashing / repackaging of existing features to integrate Filemaker with external Databases.  

 


Ease of Use

  • Basic Starter Solutions
  • Web based help
  • New icons
Basic Starter Solutions – “Get help creating your first custom app with the new basic Starter Solutions. These templates are available in the new “Get started” screen that displays when you first launch FileMaker Pro. Start managing contacts, inventory, content, and tasks right away.”
— Filemaker

Facelifted and slightly updated, and now invcluded in the Starup of Filemaker - but essentially the same as in Version 12, 13,14.... Certainly not a reason to upgrade in isolation

'Help' is now web based and can be downloaded... and the User Interface has new icons, but again nothing here to warrant spending £275 per user.


Security

  • Concealed Edit box
  • SSL improvements
  • Warnings about un-secure Server connections

 

 

Concealed edit box – Hide sensitive information you don’t want displayed on your screen. Characters you enter are masked by a “•” symbol. This feature is ideal for capturing information such as passwords, PINs, or credit card numbers.
— Filemaker

The concealed edit box has been a missing feature since passwords were invented.... it's frankly outrageous that it has taken to version 15 to introduce this!

Improvements to SSL support and updates to the security warnings are essential if the application is taken beyond the boundaries of the office.  Helpful and reassuring but really for System Admin roles rather than the cohort of regular Filemaker users.


Performance

  • Portal in-line progress bar...

This is a welcome improvement - separating time consuming tasks from the routine use of the application - meaning you can carry on working whilst the system does heavy filtering or sorting tasks.

Portal in-line progress bar – Be more productive while working with your apps. Filtering and sorting data now takes place separately from other operations so you can continue to use your app while these processes are running. The progress bar lets you know when the task is complete.

Filemaker 15: Conclusion

If you need another Filemaker licence then there are some nice features in this version of Filemaker.  If you are new to Filemaker - then it's nicer to use than ever before.

However it is, as we suspected - not a major new release.  as a business - we need one of the new features for a client project and so we will upgrade, but if you were hoping for a swathe of new features and breathtaking functions - then you'll be disappointed.  

 

Chris Bampton

Isoblue.com, Draycott, Derby, Derbyshire, England, UK