FileMaker Pro 11 review

£257
Price when reviewed

Last year, when FileMaker Pro moved up to version 10, it acquired some fundamental improvements, such as script triggers and the ability to save search criteria. In version 11, the main emphasis is on getting things done and making life easier for the user.

Foremost in this is the introduction of charts. Previously, you’d need to buy third-party plugins or export your data to a spreadsheet or specialist graphing program. Now, it’s all built in. You get a choice of bar, line, area or pie charts, plus a few optional variations such as 3D and line smoothing. That won’t be enough for more demanding scientific and financial users, but it should cover the majority of typical business needs.

Charts exist as single objects that can be given a layout of their own or embedded into reports or records. From there they can be copied into other applications. You can also publish charts to the web using FileMaker’s Instant Web Publishing tool.

FileMaker Pro 11 charts

Visually, FileMaker charts work very well, although there are some formatting limitations. You can’t move the position of a chart title or vary the colours of data series outside the 20 pre-defined colour themes that are provided. The themes are well chosen, however, and the formatting controls are intuitive so you can achieve stylish, if somewhat predictable, results very fast.

Another new feature that comes into its own when deadlines are looming is the ability to produce dynamic reports directly from a Table layout, without having to switch to Layout mode or use the Manage Database window to create new fields. One click on a column header lets you define it as the field for grouping data, another click lets you create a total or other sub-summary for any field.

All you need to do then is sort the records to create the report. It’s fast and very effective. There’s just one flaw: you can’t format the sub-summary data that’s been created in this way, you have to accept FileMaker’s default choices. If they won’t do, you’ll need to revert to the traditional way of defining summary fields and laying out a report.

Apart from reports, the new emphasis on interactivity in the Table view brings the ability to quickly create new fields, redefine field types, change field options and hide or show any field while still in Browse mode, without having to switch to the underlying layout.

Details

Software subcategoryDeveloper tools

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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