Well it is finally shipping. After glimpses under NDA and slips (it showed up on Amazon early), FileMaker 14 platform is now shipping. New versions of FileMaker Go, FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Pro Advanced and FileMaker Server are available for trial and download.
I didn’t have time this round to do a full writeup on what I thought were the great new features, but fortunately there is lots to choose from out there in FileMaker blog world.
The consensus seems to be that some of the marquee features are:
- the new Script Workspace (and Calculation Dialog box)
- Button Bars — a new layout object that allows you to create sets of buttons
- Field Placeholders — no longer a kludge
- The Launch Centre and File Icons
- Vastly improved Web Direct technology, allowing lowly Android phones and tablets to finally join the picnic
- A Standby Server option added to FM Server 14
- New and ‘improved’ pricing to support FileMaker’s evolving server connection model.
The Script Workspace brings an IDE-like editor to FileMaker’s point and click programming. In the little time I have had with it, it seems like the new script editor will take some time to get used to, but could drastically speed up programming in the longer term. This approach has been requested for years by developers and it looks like FileMaker Inc. has finally delivered, bringing the best of both worlds, an open typing environment with enough error capture to prevent users from writing bad syntax.
FileMaker 14 files will still use the .fmp12 format and will be readable by FileMaker Pro 12 and 13. The standard applies that if you use FM14 features, (for example the Button Bar or Field Placeholders) they won’t show up in FileMaker 12 or 13 clients. Eager developers who want to get their hands on FileMaker Pro Advanced 14 to write their scripts in the new environment, can do so, as long as they limit themselves to the feature set of FileMaker 12 or 13.
Matt Petrowsky of ISO FileMaker Magazine has a good video overview. He talks through the key new features with Tim Dietrich. Tim also has a useful write up on the big changes. I especially liked his take on the goals of the new platform. Tim Cimbura has a good overview as well.
Daniel Wood and his team at Digital Fusion are planning a series of 14 articles on the new product line.
DB Services have also written multiple articles on FileMaker 14.
Beezwax has dug into the new Audio/Video Control script steps and brings back a demo and report.
Steven Blackwell talks about the new security features in the FM 14 platform.
Outside the FileMaker blog bubble, most of the tech press just reprints FileMaker’s press releases, without much commentary or perspective. There is an interesting commentary by Jason Snell, former editor of Macworld magazine and an old time FileMaker user/part-time developer. He says: “If there’s one feature I’m surprised FileMaker doesn’t offer, it’s cloud-based hosting of databases. Sure, FileMaker has partners who will offer you access to the FileMaker Server apps that they maintain, but I’m surprised that FileMaker doesn’t make it easier for customers to get their databases on the Internet quickly and easily and without running their own servers or working with a third party.” Good question, perhaps in the future…
I had to laugh at Ryan Rosenburg’s 3 minute video overview. Ryan is FileMaker Inc.’s VP Marketing. FileMaker Inc. is of course owned by Apple Inc. One of the key new features is a much improved and faster Web Direct technology. The big feature is that FileMaker Web Direct can now run on Android tablets in a web browser. Ryan, true Apple employee that he is, goes out of his way to NOT mention this fact. Searching on the official FileMaker 14 web pages, I saw one Chrome logo, but no mention of Android. It definitely seems like some politics are going on behind the scenes on this release.
Things just wouldn’t be right if some clever developer hadn’t already repurposed a new feature of FileMaker Go for something entirely unimagined. Robert Samnegård takes advantage of the new trigger feature of 14, OnExternalCommandReceived, and companion Get-function, Get(TriggerExternalEvent).
All in all, it looks to be a good release, polishing the Web Direct features introduced in previous versions, bringing a must-have feature for developers (the Script Workspace) and no change in the file format to disrupt upgrading to the new version, FileMaker may have a hit on their hands. With more and more of their customers on some kind of annual licensing plan, it will be interesting to see what the uptake of the new FileMaker 14 platform is like. As usual, it is probably a good idea to wait at least a month or two to see what the bug fix versions bring before deploying widely.