Now that the excitement surrounding the FileMaker 12 product line launch is beginning to wane, developers, users and business owners are faced with the issues surrounding the why, when and how of upgrading to the new version. This new version is the first in 8 years to implement a new file type – .FMP12. The complete FileMaker 12 product line is not backward compatible with previous versions. So, to put it bluntly, there is no going back once you upgrade your server and database to FileMaker 12, and your entire database environment (server, clients and mobile clients) has to be upgraded at the same time.
The good news is that this new version brings some dramatic new features that will surely drive value and make the challenges of upgrading your database environment well worth the effort and investment. Here is our take on the perennial top 10 list.
The Top 12 Reasons for Upgrading to Filemaker 12
(with a few caveats…)
- Charting Enhancements – FileMaker Charting has been enhanced with the addition of 5 new charting types and an improved user interface. Creating dynamic charts of your FileMaker data is now easier than ever.
- FileMaker Go 12 is FREE – We think it was a great move by FileMaker to offer its mobile solution for free in the Apple iTunes Store. Customers and developers can now more easily test and deploy mobile database solutions.
- Window Styles – This is a feature added to the New Window script step. Developers can now specify Advanced Styles when executing this script step which allows some control over window behavior. Windows can be specified as a document, floating document or modal dialog and window controls (close, minimize, maximize, zoom, resize) can be turned on or off. We like this feature as it captures window control features that formerly had to be scripted.
- Layout Themes – 40 stunning new layout themes can be instantly applied to a layout to update its look and feel. This new feature allows developers to quickly create attractive layouts without having to build from scratch. Caveat – 12’s new themes are not a panacea for layout design and modification. Themes cannot be applied across multiple layouts at once, nor can they be applied to layouts from a converted solution. We believe the best practice in working with themes when starting a new solution will be to use themes to create a default form and list view and then copy those layouts to create the rest of the solution.
- Layout Guides – Users of Adobe InDesign will absolutely love this feature. In layout mode, alignment guides appear when moving and resizing objects to indicate their relative alignment to other objects. Now, creating pixel-perfect layouts will be faster and more effortless. Of course, we still have the position elements in the inspector to assist in creating precisely designed layouts.
- New Layout Design Elements – We believe that if you are going to be spending a lot of time in your workday looking at an application, it ought to look really good. FileMaker 12’s new design elements go a long way to making that possible. Now developers can create layout objects with a customizable corner radius; gradients with multiple colors and direction; and buttons that change appearance by behavior (normal, in focus, hover, pressed).
- Server 12 is 64-bit – Re-built on the 64-bit architecture, FileMaker Server can now use more RAM (up to a terabyte) and can be configured to use half of the available RAM for cache. Now, FileMaker Server can take full advantage of current high-speed server technology, delivering better performance to FileMaker and FileMaker Go clients.
- Incremental Backups on FileMaker Server – Not only will your database perform better on FileMaker 12, your data will be more secure with adoption of more robust backup system. FileMaker Server 12 and Server 12 Advanced now allow incremental backups that allow for more frequent backups with far less impact on user experience during the backup process.
- Enhanced Container Fields – FileMaker 12’s enhanced container fields now include drag-and-drop support, audio and video recording, and media streaming (in conduction with FileMaker Server). We are especially excited about the new external storage features of container fields. All container field media can now be externally stored in a server directory managed by FileMaker server.
- FileMaker Go Enhancements – FileMaker Go 12 brings new features making your mobile solution more versatile and powerful: users can now record video and audio directly into container fields and export data. New location functions now allow developers to rapidly create location-aware mobile database applications.
- ExecuteSQL Function – Now, FileMaker 12 can query data internally using the ExecuteSQL calculation function. This function is context independent, so data can be queried regardless of what layout/table occurrence you are in. In previous versions, developers had to create many additional table occurrences on the relationship graph and create hidden utility windows in order to leverage certain functionality in the database. With the ExecuteSQL function data can be queried (even from unrelated tables) anywhere there is a calculation dialog. FileMaker solutions will be cleaner, more efficient and faster to develop. Caveat – just SQL Select statements are possible for now. Developers who require Update and Delete SQL statements will continue to use SQL plugins.
- File Conversion – Simply put, converting your FileMaker 7 – 11 solution is as simple as opening your old files with FileMaker 12. The FileMaker conversion engine does the rest, and from our experience testing, there are few issues to be concerned about.
Questions? We are excited to help new and current customers migrate to the new version of FileMaker. Contact us today to learn more about how you can take advantage of the new features.
Since many users are tied for awhile to v11 due to prior investments, I’d love to see a “Best of” list for plugins, scripts, etc that accomplish (or approach) the new features of 12.
Kirk Bowman says
Hi David, thanks of the suggestion. No promises, but I will see what we can do.
Jan Hruby says
Hi, I can’t share your excitement with FM12. We have used FileMaker for more than 15 years as a framework for our company’s information system with 30 PCs. FM12 is significantly slower than FM11 and most of changes and improvements are just cosmetic. There are plenty of features and requirements that are still missing.
Darren Burgess says
Jan – Thanks for your feedback. I believe your concerns are warranted as some users have reported decreased performance in rendering of layouts, especially in list and table view. As with any major upgrade, and especially since FM12 brings a new file format, it is extremely important that companies test and evaluate the new version in their environment. For some customers, it may be best to wait for maintenance updates and for developers to find ways to optimize for the new version. We are looking forward to helping our customers evaluate their move to FileMaker 12.
Taylor Sharpe says
I have not converted any of my major clients yet, but am testing them. Most things I am finding v12 to be faster, particularly over the WAN. I seem to find most locally hosted files on the same machine appear a little slower. I guess FileMaker is becoming more optimized as a server system. Using the new layouts seems to work well, but old layouts with lots of conditional formatting are slower, particularly list view when scrolling. It may be worth reworking frequently used web pages into a new styled layout for both speed and appearance. Obviously my experiences are specific to my clients databases, but I was wondering if others were having similar experiences.
Taylor Sharpe says
Ooops, where I said “web pages,” I meant layouts.
David Storlie says
We’ve only been live on FM12 for a few days at a manufacturing plant with over 50 users. A lot of our database users have noticed the major change in refreshing screens. If someone enters data into a pre existing record, no one else can see that change unless we implement a ONTIME SCHEDULE Script to refresh the data for each of those users. We now have to rewrite most of our databases because of this inherent flaw in FM12 Server/Pro. I would love to find a better work around for this. I understand this might be for the sake of mobile clients, but it is very annoying to find this out after converting to FM12. I wish I could go back to FM11 without giving up another weekend of converting all the database files. Also, Filemaker Server is not cleaning up disconnected clients. One of our mobile users uses up to 9 clients per user because Filemaker Server doesn’t clean up their old sessions. We are constantly running out of users now, and I have doubled the number. Disconnecting idle sessions doesn’t work as it is intended either, because I set those databases and users to be disconnected after an hour of inactivity, but they still remain as filemaker server clients until I disconnect them using the filemaker server manager. I would really like some help with both of these issues.
Darren Burgess says
David, Thanks for stopping by. I will follow up with you to see how we can help.