FileMaker to push universal information exchange

Filemaker Inc. on Tuesday will broaden its database strategy to include XML data interchange and application integration with the release of FileMaker Pro 6.

Officials from the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company described its strategy as one of universal information exchange.

Expanding the core database to integrate a variety of data sources has become a common strategy among the remaining four major database players: IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Sybase Inc. FileMaker, for its part, takes a slightly different tact by targeting its database server and tools at the workgroup level.

To that end, the XML import and export features enable the exchange of XML data as well as application integration, according to Dominique Goupil, president of FileMaker.

“The XML integration makes us a better IT citizen,” Goupil said. “We retain the ease of use while extending the product.”

Volvo Action Services, Volvo’s equivalent to AAA, runs a 24-hour call center operation that dispatches employees to help customers when Volvo products are in need of repair, and has been using a beta of the pending FileMaker 6.

Mack Richardson, an application developer with Volvo Action Services, said that FileMaker enables them to integrate CRM (customer relationship management) systems and data, a Microsoft SQL Server database, and a call center application. This integration allows call center attendants to pull information from the various data sources, such as customer ID numbers and history reports, he said.

“We were able to build applications quickly, whereas with the more industrial-size databases, like Oracle and SQL Server, there’s a longer lead time,” Richardson said.

Volvo Action Services also uses FileMaker to import and export data outside the firewall.

“We have a client who is sending us data on their customers via XML,” Richardson said.

Prior to FileMaker 6, Volvo Action Services exchanged information with the client but had to parse the data first and then feed it into XML, which took much longer, Richardson explained.

In addition to XML support, FileMaker 6 includes time- and cost-saving features such as batch file import, format painter, custom dialogs, and more than 20 productivity templates.