The flashy keynote demos may be dedicated to iWork and iLife, but Apple and its subsidiaries make plenty of other applications that millions of users depend on every day. In particular, the database mavens at FileMaker Inc. have been cranking out their powerful, easy-to-use flagship app for 15 years, building an impressive roster of users and developers along the way. Today, the latest version -- FileMaker 13 -- is available for purchase.
While FileMaker may have sacrificed some customer goodwill earlier this year when it discontinued the 4-year-old consumer tool Bento, the new version may be able to recapture some of those small office/home office users with improved iOS interoperability, supercharged web publishing, a simplified edition lineup (there's now only one Server product) and new monthly subscription pricing.
The new FileMaker WebDirect tool -- which allows FileMaker developers to create responsive, stylish websites driven by FM data -- looks impressive. According to Senior Product Manager Eric Jacobson, the objective is for FileMaker's WebDirect to deliver a "desktop interaction model" in the browser; he pointed out that v13 is a platform for solutions, not just a database product. WebDirect will be licensed on a concurrent-connection basis, so supporting up to five simultaneous web users will run US$25 per month.
On iOS, the FileMaker Go mobile app gains several new tricks in v13, including native barcode scanning and additional data entry keyboards. Swipe controls, popovers and gestures also join the party for mobile users.
Database designers get some new tools in v13: object styles for rapid changes, and a new themes tool for reskinning entire FM packages at a click. New encryption options (available in FileMaker Pro Advanced) allow admins to protect sensitive information with the AES algorithm.
FileMaker Pro 13 is available today on FileMaker's online store and elsewhere. Standalone license pricing has jumped a bit from v12 (starting at US$329 vs. $299; upgrades start at $179), but the new monthly subscription pricing may suit some users. A subscription starts at $9 for FileMaker Pro or US$15 for FileMaker Pro Advanced. FileMaker Pro Server can be licensed at $29/mo for volume and corporate users.