Tag - Database
This may be a first for us: we're examining a new software release in not one, but two separate reviews. It's not because this is going too long, either. It's because this software is FileMaker Pro 15 and it's less an app, more a whole world. If you are an existing user, then you probably love it -- but you also know that any upgrade has to earn its keep, so you'll be looking for details of what's new. Yet if you've never touched it before, the differences between this and the previous version 14 won't really tell you whether it's worth your time and money. So do this for us, please: if you have never tried FileMaker Pro, carry on reading this; if you're an old hand, read the other review -- that one's for you.
We used to think it was an Excel thing that other people would forget it was a spreadsheet and instead use it as a kind of rudimentary database where they listed text in the columns instead of numbers. Now we have to face the fact that it isn't other people who do this, it's us –– and we're doing it all over again in Apple's Numbers. We know we're wasting its strengths, we know, but it's handy and there is a way to both speed it up and to make us feel like we're fine not going off to create databases all the time. You can use popup forms in Numbers.
Like every app covered in Developer Insight so far, FileMaker Pro is deeply popular and a very longstanding success -- but in every other way, it is completely different. Most apps are bought by people who need them to do a certain job, but if you buy FileMaker Pro, you're actually buying it in order to then create your own solution to a job or a problem. It is a development tool just as much as it is a consumer one, and that has advantages and disadvantages -- but it also attracts a gigantic degree of loyalty from its users.
On Friday, Apple notified developers that it was expanding a feature of CloudKit to allow for server-to-server web service requests. "In addition to providing a web interface for users to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key," Apple said in its announcement. Previously, interaction with the CloudKit public database was limited to apps and web only.https://developer.apple.com/news/?id=02042016a
It all sounded so easy one week ago when we revealed that we were going to make a Job Book database in FileMaker Pro and for the most part, it has been very easy. We took a deep dive into fields on Wednesday which meant absorbing terms that might be new and using database calculations that –– to us anyway –– felt like Sudoku puzzles to be solved. Otherwise, though, it was a pretty smooth ride from idea to final working database. That's the key thing here: the database is working. It's a real database that we truly are using every day and as we keep saying, the way to learn something is to have a real project to do.
There is one thing we haven't mentioned in this entire project: we're here to make a Job Book database that records our commissions, but it is only useful if we can actually use it. All the planning we did, and then all of yesterday's detail work about fields and records -- what we want to note about the work we do -- is for nothing if we don't use the database. Full disclosure: sometimes we haven't. So, in this chapter, we're making the database not just usable, but pleasant to use, reducing the excuses to not use it.
Previously on this MacNN project, we realized we had a problem, and that a database would be the solution. To our mind, that means a FileMaker Pro solution. It means FileMaker in part because we've used that application in one-man companies and international media ones; it also means that because we've learned how flexible it is.
First, we realized we needed a database. Then, it took about a picosecond to realize that what we need is FileMaker Pro 14. This is a tool for making databases, from simple ones like ours up on to the tools that international corporations use. Whether you're a corporate level user or starting out, though, the steps involved in creating and using a new database are the same -- they're the steps and considerations we're using in this project to build a Job Book database.
We're building a Job Book in FileMaker Pro: a database that we are genuinely using in freelance work to log and do some basic tracking of the commissions we get. Last week we explained what this was about, and why we know it's the way to take a productive deep dive into the very powerful database app. Today we're doing something that might not sound right: we're leaving FileMaker Pro.
It says a lot about the old Bento personal database app for OS X that people still refer to new, comparatively basic databases as being Bento-like or Bento-style. If only as many people used it as talked about, we might still have that software around, and there'd be little place for alternatives. However, Bento is gone, and for some users, Steward 1.0 is going to be a viable alternative.