Databases have been taken one step further with the release of FileMaker Pro 4.0, Claris' fourth version of the product. In addition to being a powerful relational database, FileMaker can publish databases to the Web with the click of a button.
And Claris has announced that Home Page 3.0, when it ships sometime in 1998, will be integrated with FileMaker Pro so that Web pages created in Home Page can be easily tied to FileMaker databases. Claris believes this combination will make the Internet a level playing field for trade - it says FileMaker will give businesses the potential to access the same number of clients as anyone else on the Web.
Working with this version is like slipping into a comfortable pair of shoes for those who are familiar with the program. But it may take some time to master for those who haven't used it before - however it's definitely worth it, particularly if you want to publish the database to the Web.
FileMaker Pro comes with 48 customisable templates, so if you're new to the program it might pay to use one and modify it to your needs. Most of the templates are practical models, including a product brochure, asset management, student records and a home budget.
FileMaker Pro supports a number of file formats, including FileMaker 3.0, Excel, TXT, SYLK, DIF, WKS, dBASE (III and IV) and HTML files. File conversion is immediate and accurate. No data is lost and no irregular characters appear. The converted file appears with a basic layout, so it requires a bit of tweaking to give it a workable interface.
Changing the database's appearance is a straightforward affair. It pays to have thought about the design first so that the end product has a logical and practical design. Moving and resizing individual fields seems simple, but the tool isn't accurate enough.
When trying to resize a box, it often ended up moving around the page. The fields don't move smoothly across the page, rather they jump from point to point. This makes it difficult to get each field in an exact position.
Simple Web publishing
The instant Web publishing feature lets users quickly publish databases to the Web without programming in HTML or even creating a Web page.
FileMaker Pro acts as a Web server, and displays an attractive page that lets anyone with a browser search, edit, delete and update records in a database. Web databases come complete with password security and a log to record all visitor activities.
Because it can be networked, FileMaker Pro has a number of security features. Developers and network administrators can set database access privileges across a network or on the Web by assigning one or more passwords. Each password may be set to specify what the user can or cannot do with the database, as well as the information or layouts that will or will not be displayed.
There are several additional Web-enabling capabilities that add greater convenience for accessing information on the Internet, including the ability to store GIF or JPEG images.
Both Windows and Mac OS users are able to send an e-mail from within FileMaker Pro, a feature that works with many popular e-mail software applications.
One of the best features of FileMaker is its multi-platform support. FileMaker Pro offers cross-platform compatibility and data exchange between Mac and Windows PCs. In fact, the program comes on just one CD-ROM which can be used for either system. Installation is a breeze: just put in the CD and the installation program takes over.
For $299, FileMaker Pro 4.0 is a practical, easy-to-use solution for anyone wanting to publish their database to the Internet.
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