We live in the future. Ideas and gadgets featured in science fiction books and movies decades ago remain fantastic, but no longer seem unreal. The phone in our pocket is far more powerful than any computer a few years ago. Lightweight electronic tablets that store thousands of books have led to some virtual books outselling physical books at Amazon.com. FileMaker Pro is no exception. With the release of FileMaker Go for the iPhone and iPad, we have live instant access to records in our FileMaker databases.
FileMaker Go is available exclusively through Apple’s App Store for either $19.95 (iPhone/iPod Touch or $39.95 (iPad). Once downloaded, you have instant access to FileMaker files over the network just like any other desktop user of the FileMaker Pro Mac or Windows application. You can also load databases on the device, either through iTunes or a web site. FileMaker Go functions very much like a thin client — the user cannot certain developer features like Manage Scripts or Layout mode, only Browse and Find. Yet imagine the ease and portability: carrying a lightweight iPad throughout the office or a hospital and being able to access database records. Or a sales person on the road quickly able to pull up contact records or product listings via a iPhone.
Developers considering FileMaker Go as part of their repertoire need to take the size of the device into consideration when designing layouts. Certain script steps may not work the same way on Go and will need to be tested on the device as part of the development process. The primary use of “touch” as the input method may change certain user interface design ideas, as users will demand quick and intuitive responses from their application. While the desktop version of FileMaker continues as the core market (and only developer platform), the arrival of its smaller sibling signals an exciting new future for FileMaker, one that both business and personal users of database applications greet with excitement.
MightyData now offers a FileMaker Go training class, designed to help understand the differences between FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Go, and how to develop applications for the use on mobile devices. This two-day class covers key elements such as designing for the different layout sizes and behavior on the iPhone and iPad, dealing with interrupted processes in your scripting and record modification, and network latency. The second day will cover advanced scripting techniques such as scanning barcodes, image handling, electronic signature capture, charting, and more.