FileMaker 16's complex simplicity echoes Apple's enterprise IT strategy

Powerful tools made easy -- it's the only way to go

Nowhere is Apple’s visionary approach to enterprise technology evidenced as clearly as in the latest edition of FileMaker 16 Platform, which comes from an independently-run company that happens to be wholly-owned by Apple.

Simple complexity

The veteran solution has been available for over 35-years and has over a million active users.With this kind of constituency, the platform has been given a thorough sprucing up in this release.

FileMaker says it provides everything needed to create, share, and run custom apps for business teams, but it has worked to make the whole thing much more accessible. The new release includes a host of improvements to mobility, integration, development, scalability and security.

Enterprise developers will find a host of good improvements in the release, but I think new JSON functions, cURL improvements and the introduction of Tableau Web Data Connector for FileMaker should help widen the reach and impact of the solutions they build.

Introduction of much improved geolocation and Beacons support will also open new opportunities for developers.

"Location monitoring is one of my favorite features, as we are now able to provide smart apps that react to the surroundings,” DataManix founder Claus Lavendt is cited as saying in the product PR. “Now you can perform an action when a mobile device, such as an iPad, detects a nearby, predefined iBeacon. Or, automatically pull up location-based information when entering a predefined geofence. This feature will help the user focus even more on their tasks."

With the company now on an annual upgrade cycle, it is also clear it now favors an incremental approach to improving its solution – many of the new tools within ’16 are built on the back of improvements made in the last release. You can take a look in more depth at what’s inside FileMaker 16 here.

Agile development

I was shown some of these improvements by FileMaker’s director of platform evangelism Andrew LeCates, who agreed that part of the intent is to deliver a product most everyone can make use of out of the box – but one that also offers all the deep complexity you’d expect from any advanced solution in this field.

He says the company has noted that enterprise developers are looking for “low-code/no-code” solutions to help accelerate development.

The company believes that by creating a powerful platform that’s both accessible and capable, it now offers a solution enterprise users can make use of to build apps as and when they need them.

Business agility, fast deployment, and ease-of-use are all watchwords in the release. But if you are a pro user you can go much deeper.

Case studies

The company wanted to discuss some of the successful implementations of its new software across some of its clients. Wood Fruitticher is a large food service distribution company that migrated its existing ordering systems to the new platform. Its existing systems were inefficient, communications fragmented and it was difficult for staff or management to get a clear picture of how the business was doing.

Developer Martin Clapp, who had not used FileMaker before, was able to use the platform to develop a new sales app for the company that has rapidly improved business processes and boosted customer satisfaction. “I could never have dreamed we could create a sophisticated app in-house within such a short time frame. It is not a pat on my back, but instead a testament to FileMaker,” he says in a FileMaker case study.

Simple is sexy

That, in essence, is key to Apple’s approach to enterprise technology – one that reflects the continued consumerization of IT: powerful tools can be developed with the user in mind.

This is the only approach that truly makes sense for any future-focused enterprise. Just think about what those millennial employees arriving now on the job market expect. They do not expect the tools they use at work to be more complex, less capable, and generally poorer quality than the also powerful devices they use in their daily lives.

This extension of BYOD thinking into enterprise and application development is to be welcomed, as it should make employee lives and customer experience a little easier. That’s also the goal of the Apple approach to enterprise IT, and that of FileMaker.

To find out more about FileMaker 16, the company has made a rich quantity of educational software available. A free trial of FileMaker 16 is available at

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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