Calling it the biggest interface change in more than 10 years, FileMaker, Inc this week released the latest version of its respected database software, FileMaker Pro 10. The software takes on a more dramatic look and feel designed, the company said, to streamline navigation, improve workflow and incorporate time-saving shortcuts.
The company made the changes based on research it conducted on the way people work with databases in real life, FileMaker's president Dominique Goupil said in a written statement. The result is a database that takes less time to build, requires a smaller learning curve and is even easier to use, according to Ryan Rosenberg, FileMaker's vice president of marketing.
"Forty percent of our customers are small businesses, and we wanted to take this beloved interface if an interface can be beloved and modernize it without losing what's familiar and comfortable for our customers," said Rosenberg. "We created a toolbar that takes the power in FileMaker Pro, unleashes it and makes it more accessible."
The redesign took the most frequently used FileMaker tasks, which in previous editions you could only access through the main menu, and placed them on the Status Toolbar. Now, said Rosenberg, common tasks such as adding or deleting a record or finding and sorting information take a single click.
"We took the functions in the menus and keystrokes and put them on the toolbar," he said. "The toolbars are smart enough to display the right information depending on the task at hand."
While the new design and toolbars are designed to make learning and using FileMaker easier, Rosenberg said it doesn't leave long-time customers in the lurch. "We learned from Microsoft's mistake when it introduced the Ribbon interface. They changed the menu too much," he said. "People can use FileMaker 10 the new way, or they can still do things the old way through menus."
Other new features designed to save you time include saved finds, script triggers and dynamic reports. The program now saves searches automatically and lets you name and save searches based on your needs. Here's how the company explains the feature: "If you want to create a find request for customers in California who have spent more than $1,000 in the past year, but have not ordered in the last three months, FileMaker Pro will save the search so you can access it over and over again in the future"
FileMaker 10 includes 12 script triggers (five object-based and seven layout-based), which operate a lot like spreadsheet macros. They're designed to help you save time by automating tasks. You can set a script trigger to run based on a particular time or based on someone taking a specific action within the database, such as clicking in a field or exiting a viewing mode.
Dynamic reports lets you edit reports on the fly that is, you can make changes to the data from within your report as you work. The changes you make will also appear immediately in the database without you having to change views.
Other features include:
Rosenberg pointed out that while there's plenty of depth to keep advanced customers happy, these features are intended to improve productivity and make databases easier to use. "Not everyone uses databases every day, so easy is essential," he said. "Occasional users don't want to have to relearn from scratch."
The entire FileMaker Pro 10 line (listed below with pricing) is available starting today.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
This article was first published on SmallBusinessComputing.com.