FileMaker 15 Brings New Mobility, Integration to Custom App Dev - Page 2

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New integration and automation features include in-product updates and the ability to recover scripting work instantly with multiple undo. Red highlighted text helps easily identify problem areas in the Script Workspace, Lecates said. And with release 15, the FileMaker External SQL Sources (ESS) Adapter connects to even more External SQL Data Sources including PostgreSQL and IBM DB2.

"For me, the expansion of support for SQL sources with the addition of support for PostgreSQL and IBM DB2 with the ESS Adapter was huge," said Cristoffer Ippolite, a consultant with iSolutions and a FileMaker trainer. "This now gives FileMaker live, two-way connectivity options for five of the largest SQL sources—SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle were already supported."

Ippolite, who told eWEEK he has trained hundreds of students in his classroom and thousands online over the years, said he has always seen FileMaker as a "sleeper tool" for corporate IT as the "glue" that can bind multiple different systems together while still providing an approachable yet manageable front end for users to interact with data.

"If I told an IT manager that there was a tool out there that could bind SQL Server, MySQL, DB2, PostgreSQL and Oracle together with live connectivity, and that that same tool could allow you and even end users to create apps that could be deployed on OS X, Windows and iOS to hundreds of simultaneous users, any IT manager would be compelled to learn more," he said. "Although FileMaker swings a big axe on connectivity, it is still the same approachable app development platform that it has always been. Like other Apple products, great detail has been applied to ensuring that end users of all skill sets can crack open FileMaker and create custom apps without a computer science degree."

FileMaker 15 also has a host of new ease-of-use and performance features, as well as new licensing for teams. FileMaker 15 introduces a new, simpler way for teams of five or more people to license FileMaker software. Each user can access FileMaker Pro (for User Connections), FileMaker Go or FileMaker WebDirect—all hosted on FileMaker Server—to securely share information in real time, the company said.

Meanwhile, FileMaker recently released its SDK for iOS, and updated it for version 15.

"This may have been the biggest game-changer out there," Ippolite said. "Because now you only need to know how to create a FileMaker app in order to create apps for distribution on MDM [mobile device management] or even on the iTunes store. No Swift or Xcode needed. It is mind-bending, really. For literally pennies on the dollar and in days instead of months, you can go from idea to iPad using FileMaker to build your app."

When asked what level of technical expertise a user needs to build a FileMaker app, Ippolite replied: "Well, my 66-year-old father built his own app last year and didn't even reach out to me for assistance. And he still has a flashing '12:00' on his VCR because he can't figure that out. And yes, he still has a VCR."

For his part, Lecates noted that when it comes to a build-versus-buy decision for a business, FileMaker tries to fit a niche between the two.

"It's easy to buy an app, but it may not do what you want," he said. "And custom apps can be expensive and time-consuming to develop. We believe FileMaker bridges those two things and allows the best of both worlds."