The Bottom Line
FileMaker Pro 11 is a powerful yet easy-to-use database program. FileMaker Pro has always been surprisingly easy to use; surprising, because it has so much power under the hood. Even if you have no experience with databases, you can sit down with FileMaker Pro 11 and knock out a decent database in a relatively short period of time. If you know your way around databases, or you're a dedicated beginner, there's almost no limit to what you can do with FileMaker Pro 11.
New charting, layout folder, and report features make it easier to display, organize, and share information with colleagues and clients.
- Easy-to-use charting capabilities.
- New Table View lets you create databases quickly.
- Improved user interface.
- Easy report creation.
- New Layout Inspector.
- Default Table View can be confusing for new users.
- More cumbersome to define fields than in than earlier versions.
- Requires OS X 10.5.7 or later.
- Available in Macintosh and Windows versions; cross-compatible.
- OS X 10.5.7 or later
- Can drag and drop Excel-based spreadsheets
- Saved Search
- Snapshot of reports
- Publishes databases to the web
- Recurring imports feature lets you update your database from external sources
- Includes more than 30 professionally designed templates
Guide Review - Review of FileMaker Pro 11: New Quick Find, Table View, and Charting Features
FileMaker has long been known for its elegant interface, ease of use, and powerful collection of tools. FileMaker Pro 11 builds on these capabilities, with a new reporting feature that lets you easily include charts in your layouts, a new inspector that gives you quick access to all your favorite design tools, and a new Quick Find that is, well, quick.
But the biggest change is the new Table View. Many users will love this feature, but it will leave some long-time FileMaker Pro users scratching their heads.
Table View is now the default view when creating a database. Table View is a lot like working in a spreadsheet; the columns are the fields of your database, and the rows are the records.
Most database designers will be happy to have Table View be the default view in FileMaker Pro, since databases are made up of one or more tables. What makes the going get tricky for previous users of FileMaker Pro is that the new Table View is not only used for database layout (design), but also for entering data into any of the fields. This makes it easy to quickly create and populate a database, but can lead to confusion down the road, because at this point, you may not have defined the field types yet.
Luckily, the older Manage Database method is still available. This method uses a separate window to create and define records. I'm so used to this method of database creation that I added the Manage Database function directly to the toolbar (thank goodness for customizable toolbars).
A welcome new feature in FileMaker Pro 11 is charts. While it's true that earlier versions could create charts via plug-ins and add-ons, FileMaker Pro 11 now has native charting capabilities that allow you to quickly create five different chart types: vertical bar, horizontal bar, area, line, and pie. Even better is how easy charts are to create. Using the Chart Setup series of dialog boxes, you can define the chart type, color scheme, legends, and fonts; in fact, just about everything that's needed to create useful and attractive charts. Charts are also easy to edit. Simply click on the Chart object, and you'll be taken back to the Chart Setup, where you can make any desired changes.
Quick Find is a new search feature that looks for matches to a query in all fields of all records, instead of requiring you to specify fields to search. This is especially handy when you don't remember which fields contain the desired data.
FileMaker Pro 11 offers new features that both basic database users and seasoned database developers will enjoy. That being said, I found the default Table View combination of layout and live browsing confusing at first, and prefer the older, distinct layout and browse modes.
My concern about the default Table View aside, FileMaker Pro 11 is a first-rate product that brings many complex database capabilities to both pros and casual users. FileMaker Pro 11 retains its power and ease of use, and adds many new and desirable features.