FIleMaker’s Strong Point

Jonathan Stark describes FileMaker as, “an old-school software development platform ideally suited to building internal applications for workgroups.”

Ignoring the old-school comment, the second part of that sentence helped me put FIleMaker’s strong points into perspective.

Is that a common view of the typical — or ideal — FileMaker use case?

That's how their current licensing is set to work.

That's how FileMaker / Claris positioned FileMaker at all conferences I ever went to: small to medium-sized workgroups.

Yes, they target the small-medium organisation, department, etc.

FileMaker's strong point is the same as its weak point: with only a superficial exposure to its basic structures, you can start using it. You can do a lot of useful things with it long before you fully understand it.

I did my first serious database in FileMaker 2.1 and did it all without cracking open a manual. It's that self-explanatory. Just poke around in the menus. "Oh, wow, it can do this!"

Of course that leads to a vast array of really badly written solutions in FileMaker. There are a zillion ways of doing almost anything but that doesn't make them equally elegant. I have copies of my very first futzy versions of my very first file, and I had created calculation fields defined as equal to other fields simply to put them on a different layout. Not realizing you could add a field you had already created to a different layout. And a lot of other things that would make you wince.

But it's also an environment that teaches you via experience. I learned on my own the limitations of repeating fields and replaced them with FileMaker 2.1 scripts that copied the thingie that would some day be called a "primary key" and then called a script in a second file that entered Find Mode and pasted, thus bringing up the related records.


Thank you for posting this link. The article focuses on something that is quite important: billing mode. It is billing by the hour vs something else. Good point to discuss.