FileMaker 17 New Features

So what's new in the latest version of FileMaker 17? Let's take a peek at some of the features the new version of FileMaker brings to the table.

File Format - FMP12

FileMaker 17 uses the same file format introduced with FileMaker 12 back in April 2012 (ie FMP12 ). This maintains the continuity we have had for file formats for quite a few years now and is much appreciated by the FileMaker developer community.

FileMaker Client

The FileMaker client software used to have two versions : FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Advanced. The former was the standard software and perfectly suited to most FileMaker users. FileMaker Pro Advanced was largely geared towards developers in that it provided debugging and custom function control (among other features) - essential for anything other than the most basic database development. FileMaker 17 has merged these two versions into a single product : FileMaker Pro 17 Advanced. So, everyone gets the same software now: users and developers. However, the Advanced features can be temporarily disabled / enabled via the Preferences menu. You can even permanently disable the advanced features, should the desire arise.

Is this a games changer? Well, it's very useful for developers who might need to directly access or remotely access a user's computer in order to debug a database feature which is misbehaving. Without the debug tools, this can be problematic so not having to install a temporary copy of FileMaker Advanced is a huge boon.

Data Migration Tool

FileMaker developers will occasionally need to transfer all of the data from one database file to another. This might happen due to file corruption (which, for example, can occur if the file is in use and there's a power failure) or if the developer is unable to work on the live data file and so works on a copy of it, transferring the data later.

The problem is that, historically, for anyone tasked with transferring the files, this can be a major pain (and it's not helped by the very dated FileMaker import facility - don't get me started there). Enter the FileMaker Data Migration Tool - fanfare and trumpets now please!

The Data Migration Tool isn't part of the FileMaker application but rather a separate executable file which sits in the FileMaker 17 folder - you run it from Terminal (in Mac OS) or via the Command Prompt (in Windows).

The DMT allows an easy transfer of data and user accounts from one file to another, via a command line (shame that there isn't a GUI but we can't have everything can we). The DMT will transfer the user account details, custom value lists and data (even if the table and field names have been altered). It's a very useful utility and even though I doubt that I'll make much use of it, I can see that it will be of huge benefit on those few occasions when the need presents itself.

There are already a few GUI versions of the Data Migration Tool available but I haven't used them so cannot comment on their functionality. Google is your friend there I think. One last thing - the DMT works with any FMP12 file, so you can use it with with a file developed in FileMaker 14 for example.

Docked Field / Object and Inspector Panes

FileMaker 17 now sees the field / object and inspector floating panes attached and locked to each window when you enter layout mode. Once again, this is a development feature rather than anything your users will see or access. It's handy but really isn't much of a game changer for people who keep their windows reasonably tidy. Once again, no complaints here.

Master Detail Portals

Historically, a portal in FileMaker only allows you to show data from one table to another, different table entity. FileMaker 17 introduces a feature which allows you to create a portal which displays data from the current found set. This is a wonderful inclusion to the handy features already available with portals (such as sorting and filtering). I'm very much looking forward to using the Master Detail Portals in FileMaker as I'm sure that our customers are going to find them incredibly useful.

igeek, as FileMaker developers in the South West, will make great use of these features in their client databases - why not give them a call and discuss your business software requirements?

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