FileMaker gets a makeover

FileMaker Pro 5, the latest release from FileMaker Inc., boasts added features, a redesigned look and a focus on the Web. Overall, the product’s look and feel is more in tune with Microsoft’s Office.

“We now have tool bars that operate exactly like Office tool bars, so that really eases the training costs of integrating FileMaker on the desktop. As far as actually developing on the desktop, we ship with over 20 templates so that you can get up and running straight away,” said Christian Thomas, product manager at FileMaker.

Along with the product’s release, FileMaker announced its plans to work with Adobe Systems Inc., Allaire Corp. and Macromedia Inc. This will allow Web authors to publish custom Web sites that incorporate FileMaker Pro data, according to the company.

“One of the technologies we have implemented in FileMaker 5 is support for XML. That will be the way for Macromedia Dreamweaver or Adobe to take advantage of FileMaker as the back-end database. Using XML they can generate a front-end which will then hook directly into FileMaker data,” Thomas said. “With FileMaker 5 we actually maintain your layout on the Web, so you don’t have to use any other tools to be able to completely use FileMaker to generate your Web layout,” he added.

Though FileMaker is embracing cutting-edge Web technology with their relationships with Adobe, Allaire and Macromedia, they have not abandoned their traditional market nor their renowned ease of use, the company said.

“Its user base is highly devoted to it because it is so approachable, but it is powerful; I think FileMaker is pretty much alone in the industry to have brought a product through over 10 years of evolution, and managed to evolve it in functionality and maintain its end user appeal,” said Mary Wardley, director of e-commerce software and personal applications at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass. “Today IS is handing a lot of stuff down, IS is not the only constituency that is involved in Web sites and maintaining them,” she added.

Or to put it even more simply. “This one is just a piece of cake. I think that what they have done is truly make it easy for someone to manage their desktop,” said Brian Kalita, senior analyst with The Aberdeen Group in Boston.

FileMaker’s target market has also remained unchanged.

“Workgroups are the target market, whether it is a workgroup in a small business, and that happens to be the whole business because there are only five to 10 people in the workgroup, or it is an enterprise workgroup,” Thomas said.

Essentially, four new products were released by the company. The afore mentioned Pro 5, Pro 5 Unlimited, Server 5 and Developer 5.

While Pro 5 limits the number of users to 10, Pro 5 Unlimited offers the same capabilities and features but puts no ceiling on number of users.

FileMaker Server is designed to host FileMaker Pro 5, while FileMaker Developer is a tool for creating solutions across workgroups, over the Web or as a standalone runtime application, according to the company.

FileMaker Pro 5 is US$249 while the upgrade is US$149. They are available now. FileMaker Pro 5 Unlimited is US$999 (available Q4), Server 5 is US$999 (Q4) and Developer 5 US$499 (Q1 2000)

FileMaker in Santa Clara, Calif., is at 1-800-325-2747.