Apple subsidiary, FileMaker, has introduced version 15 of its eponymous business-focused cross-platform relational database application for business users, swathed with a series of improvements with a focus on mobility, Web and iOS.
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Andrew LeCates, Director Solutions Consulting says the new version aims to fix such problems business users face as “inefficient processes, scattered information and rigid technology”.
“When you are a small business there’s a competitive advantage in developing custom software,” he explained. “Filemaker makes it easy to make custom apps for non professional developer.”
Historically, FileMaker has evolved to become a good tool with which to build business applications without having any advanced development skills. However, the previous version was not without its critics. Will FileMaker 15 be sufficient to carry the brand forward?
If I’m honest, I don’t yet know as I’ve not spent enough time with the software, but I do have some observations, principally relating to FileMaker’s sensible focus on enabling the growing iPhone enterprise. This Apple focus is well evidenced by some of the flagship features within the new release: Touch ID, 3D Touch and iBeacons support; iCloud and Box integration; App extensions within FileMaker Go and its desktop development environment.
Features like these make it clear FileMaker wants to take advantage of Apple’s growing dominance of the mobile enterprise – this makes complete sense when you think about where we are in enterprise IT right now: When given the choice, 78 percent of employees will choose iOS; 74 per cent will choose Mac. FileMaker has also improved WebDirect for those who must adopt different platforms.
Apple is now the platform of choice across the enterprise. It’s a pattern that’s consistent with last year’s 2015 Apple Trends Survey that revealed a similar transformation in the AAPL enterprise place.
FileMaker 15 is also boosted by really mobile-focused things such as near instant record updates between devices and teams thanks to its enhanced performance; a much-improved and easier to navigate user interface and clear usage guides and instructions that aim to empower less experienced users to create and deploy FileMaker apps as quickly as possible.
You don’t need to know how to work in SQL in order to achieve this. Making the complex simple in order to empower the “citizen developer” is one of the company's aims in FileMaker 15. It's up to users to judge its success.
Touch ID support is interesting. It means corporate information can easily be protected by a person’s fingerprint, making it near impossible to access such data on a stolen device. “There was a bit of a challenge getting our head around Touch ID as it associates the device to the user,” explained LeCates. “Our customers have been asking us for this… We availed ourselves of Apples technology.”
That focus on security also includes ideas drawn from the CyberSoC approach to securing platforms and devices. In this case it means you get things like a concealed edit box for authorization and proactive security warnings so databases can monitor themselves for unexpected use, and warn admins accordingly. SSL certificate enhancements also appear in the release.
In a press release, Ann Monroe, vice president of marketing, FileMaker, said: “This new release represents our ongoing effort to simplify the development and deployment of custom apps that work seamlessly across mobile devices, PCs and the Web.”
One thing that does concern me when looking through FileMaker’s offering here is the lack of mention of Swift support. Given the company’s status as a wholly owned Apple subsidiary, it seems inevitable to me that future iterations of the software will make more use of Swift, particularly as an open source approach to cross platform development. It will be interesting to see what more we get to learn of Swift come next month’s WWDC event in San Francisco.
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