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FileMaker spruces up its look with FileMaker 12 release

The latest update to the software maker's flagship database product puts an emphasis on design features.

By Philip Michaels
April 4, 2012 09:17 AM ET

Macworld - No matter what device you're using to access a database, FileMaker wants the finished product to look good. And so the latest update to the software maker's flagship database product puts an emphasis on design features regardless of which platform you're using.

The new FileMaker 12 lineup unveiled Wednesday updates the company's Mac and Windows database offerings while introducing new free apps for the iPhone and iPad. Chief among the changes are additions specifically aimed at helping FileMaker users build eye-catching databases that move seamlessly from desktop to mobile device.

"People want databases that look good, work well, and are really well-organized," Ryan Rosenberg, FileMaker's vice president of marketing and services, told Macworld.

Themes and starter solutions

To that end, FileMaker Pro 12 offers 40 themes for giving your databases a distinctive look. Depending on which theme you select, you can change a database's color, button appearance, text format and borders. More important, the new version of FileMaker includes what the company bills as "touch" themes, which are optimized for mobile use on the iPhone and iPad.

Those themes can be customized with new design tools, FileMaker says. Users can add gradients to layout objects, for example, or enable buttons to show different highlights when a mouse passes over them. Other design tools in FileMaker 12 include image slicing, dynamic alignment guides, and configurable grids.

"We didn't just add themes," Rosenberg said. "We made design capabilities available to anyone who wants to dig in."

In addition to themes, the FileMaker 12 update includes 16 Starter Solutions, aimed at getting users up and running quickly with pre-built databases. The included solutions tackle common business tasks such as contact management, project tracking, and inventory logging. (In fact, FileMaker has pared down the number of Starter Solutions included in this release, dropping underused ones to concentrate on solutions with a business focus.) As with themes, FileMaker's Starter Solutions come with ready-to-use screens built for iOS devices.

The new themes architecture in FileMaker 12 brings with it a file format change--the first since 2004's release of FileMaker Pro 7. If you want to use an old database in the new release, you'll need to convert it to the new FileMaker 12 format: FileMaker Pro 12 can take care of those conversions.

The ability to add charts was a major part of 2010's FileMaker 11 update, and version 12 builds on that capability with a new Quick Charts feature. With Quick Charts, FileMaker promises you'll be able to create a chart with just a few clicks. The update also introduces five new chart styles: bubble, scatter, positive/negative, stacked bar, and stacked column.

Originally published on www.macworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from Macworld.com. Story copyright 2012 Mac Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
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