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In a nutshell, FileMaker standard and Pro Advanced are 95 percent identical, but Pro Advanced provides a few crucial extras. Pro Advanced is for serious developers, especially those who do a great deal of scripting.
Extreme makeover done extremely easily The most obvious improvement in FileMaker Pro 12 is its library of 40 fresh layout themes.
A theme controls the initial appearance of objects on a layout: However, I may reconsider my avoidance of themes. The new themes in FileMaker Pro are fairly attractive, and it is now possible to switch to a different theme later. My one regret—one I suspect a lot of developers will share—is that it it is still not possible to define and save custom themes. The best free software for your PC ] The new themes library includes a number of boffo themes designed specifically for use on the iPad and iPhone.
The interoperability with FileMaker Go is the most exciting part of the FileMaker 12 release, and with the themes for iOS, even beginners can create great looking apps for the iPad and iPhone. The snazzier aspects of the new themes are made possible by new layout options, such as the ability to add gradients to almost any layout object, the ability to change the look of buttons by controlling corner radius precisely for rounded buttons and the ability to highlight buttons differently when users mouse over or press them—behaviors we all expect from well-designed websites.
You can highlight the selected record in a list simply by putting a check in a box. In the past this required advanced techniques capturing record ID with a script trigger and using conditional formatting based on a calculation.
Contacts Starter: I opened up one of the spiffy new starter solutions and put it to use immediately, adding friends and heroes. This starter solution uses a theme called River and includes layouts optimized for the iPhone using the theme River Touch, which has larger fields and buttons. The starter database includes the scripting that takes users automatically to the appropriate layouts for their viewing platform.
Growing pains Two other changes in layout mode may seem awkward to experienced developers for a while, until old habits give way to new. Layouts in FileMaker Pro 12 now have explicit widths and expect to be used within windows of a certain size. As a longtime FileMaker developer, I found it difficult to adjust to the new way objects are selected in layout mode. In the past, you drew the selection rectangle completely around the object say, a field, or field label, or button to select it.
In FileMaker Pro 12, objects are selected if the selection rectangle touches any part of the object. Fortunately when you really need it, the old behavior can be recovered by holding down the Command key while selecting. Theme Change: The original theme the previous screen shot was a little heavy, so I right-clicked the layout, selected Change Theme, and picked something called Wave. Good news: The look of the layout is changed instantly.
Bad news: Ad hoc formatting of objects is jettisoned. Compare this screen shot to the previous one and notice that the buttons and the fields are no longer as nicely grouped as they were before.
Too timid to enter layout mode? Not to worry. FileMaker Pro 12 still has lots to offer you, too. There are starter solutions: The starter solutions make use of the new themes and include layouts optimized for FileMaker Go on iOS devices, as well as layouts for desktop computers running FileMaker Pro.
These solutions are fairly generic, of course, but the ones I have played with are pretty slick. If you are in need of one of these solutions, you can get it at no extra charge. They come with every copy of FileMaker Pro Formatting Tools: You can change the look of an object depending on its state normal, in focus, hover or pressed ; here I’m formatting the “hover” look.
Gradient formatting makes it easy to give buttons a great 3D look; no need for Photoshop now. And I especially like being able to control precisely the radius of corners. And you might become a developer yet, or at least a dabbler. Want to learn your way around FileMaker Pro in a hurry? One of the best things you can do is take a starter solution apart.
Interesting odds and ends FileMaker Pro 12 contains scores of enhancements that are beyond the scope of this review—new functions and script steps and many other improvements. But there are a two items that deserve special mention. Container fields in FileMaker Pro 12 are greatly enhanced. Some of the improvements are a bit esoteric scripted handling of the installation of plug-ins but one that many will appreciate is the ability to handle certain kinds of dynamic content.
You can now read a PDF right in a container field, moving from page to page, even searching, without having to extract the document from the field. The Chart Setup dialog has been improved and several new chart types have been added. This is a major upgrade loaded with improvements to a product that was already best in class, so you will want to place your orders immediately, right?
Right, but there is a catch: The file format for FileMaker Pro databases has changed. The last five versions of FileMaker Pro, since the release of FileMaker Pro 7 in , have used the same file format, distinguished by the file type extension.
All this backwards and forwards compatibility was great while it lasted. FileMaker Pro 12 has a new file format with the file type extension. The new format was necessary to support the new themes technology. If you want to use an old database in the new version of FileMaker Pro, the file will have to be converted to the new format.
Conversion is a breeze and is done right in FileMaker Pro If you work by yourself, by all means, upgrade. But if your databases are shared—with other users or just one—be aware that it will be necessary to upgrade to FileMaker Pro 12 on every computer that must access the files.
And as of version 12, FileMaker Go is now free. Finally, although you will have to uninstall FileMaker Server 11 or earlier before you can install FileMaker Server 12 on your server machine, customers upgrading to FileMaker Pro 12 from FileMaker Pro 10 or 11 may use their previously licensed older version alongside FileMaker Pro 12 on the same computer, while databases are migrated to the new version.
I upgraded a dozen legacy databases of my own, some of them moderately large and complex. Move Over, Excel and Numbers: Charting is easy as pie and even users without privileges can create ad hoc or temporary charts, which can’t be saved but can be viewed and printed.
And FileMaker Pro 12 includes a number of new chart types. That is almost always the case with a new version. Though I wish I could create and save my own layout themes, my other complaints are minor and involve changes that I recognize were probably necessary.
If you are one of the millions already using FileMaker Pro, the only reason not to upgrade immediately is the change in the file format, which requires a little planning and perhaps some budgeting. If you are new to FileMaker Pro, this version is the easiest one ever to recommend. At a Glance.
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