FileMaker Pro 8.5 Adds Live Web Data

Monday Jul 10th 2006 by Dan Muse
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The latest version of the popular small business database application makes Web data available on demand, also boasts a performance bump thanks to new universal binaries.

In the Web 2.0 era, why should the data in your database records be static? It shouldn't, if you ask database vendor FileMaker.

With today's release of FileMaker Pro 8.5, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based software vendor is looking to make integrating live Web data with its database application a point-and-click process.

How you will implement FileMaker's new Web Viewer Control feature for practical benefits is still a bit hazy, but some uses include adding street maps based on a customer address field, tracking shipping status and monitoring stock performance.

To use the Web Viewer Control layout object, you enter the Web address or point to a field containing the Web address. To help you you get started, FileMaker said it has added built-in links for many popular Web sites. You can also create links that will search through Web sites and display information based on data in a database, according to FileMaker.

To help small businesses get their minds in tune with the Web integration concept, FileMaker constructed the Web Viewer Gallery. The site offers examples of ways to integrate Web Viewers into your own FileMaker databases.

A Web Viewer Sample Database is included in FileMaker Pro 8.5, and the company also announced the FileMaker Learning Center, which includes video tutorials, how-to guides and other resources.

In addition to linking to public Web sites, the FileMaker Web Viewer is also designed to interact with Web-enabled commercial and custom solutions from within its FileMaker database solution. For example, a database of sales information could be connected with an internal Web-based solution that displays shipment information.

Beyond adding URLs, you can see virtually any type of content in the Web Viewer that you could see in a Web browser including: HTML, PDF, QuickTime, Java applets, Flash, SVG charts, PHP charting classes, fillable forms, Word or Excel files (on Windows PCs).

In addition to tapping Web data, FileMaker Pro 8.5, FileMaker Pro 8.5 Advanced, FileMaker Server 8.0v4 and FileMaker Server 8.0v4 Advanced have all been written to support the Intel architecture natively, which according to the company, means better performance for the end-user. FileMaker Pro 8.5 will see a speed boost of about 91 percent and the server software is seeing performance increases of 116 percent over its predecessor, according to company's benchmark testing. The new versions will run on Power PC-based Macs, Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

For the developer crowd, FileMaker Pro 8.5's new Object Functions and Scripts features include Layout Object Names, Go to Object script steps, Layout Object calculations, Set Web Viewer script step and List function.

FileMaker Pro 8.5 costs $299. FileMaker Pro 8.5 Advanced cost $499, and FileMaker Server 8 and FileMaker Server Advanced 8 are priced at $999 and $2,499, respectively.

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel, EarthWeb's Networking Channel and ServerWatch.

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