FileMaker Pro 10 review

£252
Price when reviewed

Over the years, FileMaker Pro has always managed to achieve a fine balancing act. It has satisfied professionals seeking more powerful tools to make their work easier and more effective, and kept home users happy with its simplicity. If that balance is sometimes hard to maintain, it certainly doesn’t show in FileMaker Pro 10, which brings in a host of new features to please both sides.

The first difference you’ll spot is that the Status Area has moved from the left of the screen. It’s now called the Status Toolbar and runs across the top. That may sound like a trivial change, but it adds space for many more tools and makes record navigation much easier than before, with re-designed buttons and a new mini-pie chart that shows the currently displayed “found” set as a slice of the total records. Click it, and the display toggles between records in your found set and those that aren’t.

Different status toolbars are displayed for the Browse, Find, Layout and Preview views, and each of them can be individually customised. You can hide or show the status toolbar, but you can’t revert to the old vertical status area. This is bound to cause some temporary irritation, since many fixed-size layouts that use the status area will need re-designing to accommodate the change. The benefits are worth the effort, however, and it’s a long-overdue change.

Another long-awaited improvement, which will delight FileMaker developers, is that script triggering has finally been built in. No longer do you need to rely on third-party plug-ins, because scripts can now be triggered by a comprehensive list of events including entering, leaving or modifying a field, changing layouts, committing a record and more. Script triggers can be attached to fields or to layouts and, in both cases, can have definitions that change depending on whether you’re in Browse or Find modes. You can also now trigger scripts to run at fixed or calculated time intervals.

For a long while, FileMaker’s search options have felt somewhat underpowered alongside the rest of the program. They’ve now been strengthened with the introduction of Saved Finds. Having set up any combination of search criteria,

you can save them as one named search and subsequently reuse it or edit it without having to start from scratch. This has the potential to save valuable time, especially in businesses that need to re-run standard searches over and over again. Saved finds can be accessed via the Record menu or a button on the Status Toolbar. Both of these also provide access to the ten most recently used searches.

FileMaker Pro fans will also be glad of the next fix in the list: the sort order is now persistent for each window, so once a table or result set has been sorted it stays sorted, and new records put themselves in the right place automatically. If you have multiple windows showing the same table

with different sort orders, new records will position themselves appropriately in each one.

On the collaboration front, access to external SQL sources has been brought up to date with support for the latest versions of Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and MySQL Community Edition. The list of file formats that are available for import and export has also been updated.

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New on the list is the .xlsx file format, which was introduced with Microsoft Excel 2007. This is now offered alongside the older .xls format, although support for other legacy formats such as SYLK, DBF and DIF has been dropped. This shouldn’t cause problems for most users, but inevitably will require attention by some.

Details

Software subcategory Office software

Requirements

Processor requirement 700MHz Pentium III or equivalent

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? yes

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