Software tips, techniques, and news.
The new version of FileMaker 13 is here! Below, we look at the full FileMaker 13 platform (FileMaker Pro 13, FileMaker Go 13, and FileMaker Server 13), highlighting some of the best new features and recapping the differences between this and prior versions of FileMaker Pro.
Perhaps the biggest news in the FileMaker 13 platform is the introduction of WebDirect to replace IWP (Instant Web Publishing). WebDirect allows you to easily publish your database application in a browser on the web.
With WebDirect also comes the introduction of new licensing for WebDirect and FileMaker Go in FileMaker Server via Connection Packs.
Operating system requirements have changed in the latest version, with support being dropped for Windows XP, Vista, Windows Server 2003, and Snow Leopard. We welcome the support of Windows Server 2012 Standard. In addition, FileMaker Go 12 is no longer available on the App Store with the release of FileMaker Go 13. These changes do not impact many, but for some, the licensing and support changes will require some technology investment.
Many usability improvements and technical features have been added that continue to extend the previously-laid groundwork of the powerful, easy-to-use, rapid development solution you get with the FileMaker platform. Below, you will find in-depth details on each of the new features across the platform.
The latest version continues to add new features and enhance usability for users and developers. Let's start with the user experience enhancements with layouts, styles, and themes.
We think this is the year of the Popover Window. Everyone will be adding Popover Buttons with Popover Windows in their solutions. In prior versions, you had to create a new layout for popover windows, but now you just add a Popover button and you're done.
Read more about FileMaker Popover Windows as we love this feature's flexibility and speed.
Similar to Tab Controls, a new feature that can be easily added is called a Slide Control. You can use a Slide Control with swipe gestures on iOS devices running FileMaker Go.
Read more about FileMaker Slide Controls as an option for your databases.
Another very cool feature is the ability to use the new Field Picker when designing layouts. The Field Picker gives you the ability to easily find a field using a filter by field name, edit field options without going into Manage Databases, drag and drop multiple fields on a layout at one time, and much more.
Read more about the FileMaker Field Picker.
Making an application beautiful is getting easier with the number of template designs now available. FileMaker 13 comes with 11 new Themes, pushing the total number of Themes to more than 50. Plus, if you want to customize an existing theme and apply it to all your layouts, you can now do it, saving you lots of time and energy.
Custom Layout Themes
One of the big new features is you can change a Theme and Save it as your own New Theme. Each Theme includes a default style for every object, layout part, and layout background that you can modify. It's similar to how CSS elements function on websites.
Modifying the themes is easy, as well. In the Inspector Palette there is a new tab called Styles that allows you to manage the Parts, Shapes, Edit boxes, Drop-down lists, and Pop-up menu styles. You also have the ability to Manage Themes via File > Manage > Themes, which allows you to import , duplicate, and share custom themes. Themes are a very powerful feature in FileMaker 13 that we're sure you'll love as much as we do.
FileMaker 13 comes with four updated Starter Solutions (Assets, Contacts, Content Management, and Invoice Starter) in the existing 16 Starter Solutions. (In particular, I really like the Invoice Starter Solution.)
The Invoice template includes a Dashboard and a top-tier navigation that provides a great framework for navigation. All of the new Starter Solutions includes layouts for iPad, iPhone, Desktop, and new Web layouts for WebDirect. I expect new users will enjoy starting with the Invoice template for a customer, quote, or invoicing system. Be sure to check them out!
If you, however, need a more fined tuned CRM application check out our own template, FM Quickstart. It is a free download and has been optimized to run on the latest version of FileMaker.
Insert From URL, HTTP Post
There are a lot of new script steps and functions in FileMaker 13. However, I want to focus on just one function we are happy to see has arrived: HTTP Post. The HTTP Post function was something we sponsored in the BaseElements Plugin awhile back to be free to the FileMaker community, but is now native in FileMaker 13. You can now do HTTP Post using the Insert From URL script step. This is very common for integrating your solutions with other Web Services and is a nice upgrade for users.
The new version of FileMaker Go 13 on the App Store means FileMaker Go 12 is no longer available on the App Store. FileMaker Go 13 has all the features you get in FileMaker Pro such as Slide Controls, Popovers, Navigate Slide Controls and Records with Gestures, Detecting Screen Rotations, plus some specific iOS features listed below.
Previously, you had to use a third-party application for barcode scanning, but now barcodes can be scanned directly from your iOS device using the camera. You implement barcode scanning using the Insert From Device script step. Sixteen bar code types are supported, including Code 39, Code 93, Code 128, EAN-8, EAN-13, EAN/UPC Composite, GS1 2-Digit Add-On, GS1 5-Digit Add-On, GS1 DataBar Expanded, GS1 DataBar (RSS), ITF-14, ISBN-10, ISBN-13, QR Code, and UPC-1, UPC-E.
There are seven new iOS keyboard types for easy data entry. The custom iOS keyboards include: Email, URL, Number, Numeric 10-Key, Number and Punctuation, and Phone. In the Inspector Palette in the Data tab under Behavior is a new Touch Keyboard type option. This will help you create a wonderful experience for your users using FileMaker Go on a mobile device.
FileMaker has combined FileMaker Server and FileMaker Server Advanced into a single product now called FileMaker Server 13. All the features that were a part of Server Advanced are now part of FileMaker Server and you simply purchase Connection Packs for your WebDirect and FileMaker Go concurrent connections. In addition, under the hood, FileMaker Server got much easier to use with a Web Browser Server Admin Console, WebDirect replacing IWP, and the consolidation of TCP/IP ports used by FileMaker Server.
Goodbye IWP and a big welcome to WebDirect! With WebDirect, you do not need to install FileMaker Pro client. The new layout engine, based on CSS and released in FileMaker 12, was built with WebDirect in mind. Now you get high-fidelity WYSIWYG database publishing to the web without having to learn any HTML, CSS, PHP, or another language to create a website database application. In addition, you get real-time updates in the browser just like we have come to expect in the desktop client.
This is a 1.0 release and provides many more FileMaker Pro client capabilities on the web. Right now, the recommended hardware supports up to 50 concurrent connections with WebDirect and we did notice in our testing it's a little slower than FileMaker Pro. We expect new versions to continue to build on this great foundation and provide more mobile browser capabilities. WebDirect is one more deployment option for the FileMaker platform.
Read more about FileMaker WebDirect and best practices.
Server Admin Console
Say goodbye to the FileMaker Server Admin Console built in Java. Getting rid of Java means we longer have to worry about the next release of Java breaking the Server Admin Console. Revamped in HTML 5, administration is much easier and more secure. On the down side, right-clicking is no longer available, but maybe we can get that feature back in the next version.
You can now store FileMaker Databases on the server and set them up to be encrypted at rest. AES 256-bit encryption ensures all data is encrypted, even the temp files.
Read more about FileMaker Database Encryption.
Perform Script on Server
Have you ever wanted to perform a script, but process that on the server instead of the client? You can now do that and you also have the option to Wait for completion. By being able to run scripts on the server, you can do things like sending mass mails or processing and emailing a report—things that take minutes to complete or that will complete faster on the server versus the client.
The new FileMaker 13 platform continues to focus on its unparalleled ease of use to create custom applications for organizations all around the world. There are still many things we did not cover here that continue to bring added simplicity to users and developers.
FileMaker Go continues to be an fantastic product as well, allowing organizations to create a custom application on iOS devices while providing an incredible ROI.
After 18 months, we are happy to see FileMaker 13 is here and look forward to this major release to build awesome custom applications for the Mobile, Web and Desktops.
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Kevin is CEO and Business Project Manager for DB Services. He also a founding member of the FileMaker Partner Council and certified in FileMaker 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. Kevin is passionate about FileMaker as a custom application platform and is constantly on a mission to improve how he approaches each assignment.