Filemaker 12 New Features & Key Changes

April 6th, 2012 by Charles Edge

FileMaker Pro 12, Go and Server were all released to the public in early April 2012. Each product brings its own set of new features. First and foremost is the new .fmp12 file format. It is the first file format update since version 7 of FileMaker which added multiple tables per file. This file format update feels more incremental but will introduce a number of changes for environments as they upgrade into the latest version. All the recently released products require this new file format.

Filemaker Pro 12 and Pro 12 Advanced
These are the workhorses of the Filemaker world. Much of the interface remains familiar to user of FileMaker 11 and earlier. Most of the updates in the FileMaker Pro client are related to layout and display. Version 12 provides new visual updates including gradients, alpha channel support, rounded ends on data fields and image slicing. Guides for common screen sizes for both Desktop and iOS devices will make layout designers much happier by reducing the number of times you’ll need to go back and forth between Layout and Browse while tweaking a layout to see if you’ve exceeded the display dimensions. Additional visual goodies in the new version include rounded buttons and hover states. All these visual goodies make Filemaker 12 appear much like CSS-3 webpages.

Containers are now treated a bit differently. You can specify default locations for files stored in containers. This option is selected in FILE:MANAGE:CONTAINERS. Container files also have additional options when defining them as fields in the database. In Field Options:Storage, there is a new section for Containers where you can specify the default location, and whether or not the file is encrypted (by choosing Secure Storage or Open Storage).

Real World Performance.
Working on a client file, conversion from .fp7 to .fmp12 took about 15 minutes for a 650MB file with around 700K records in it. Conversion was smooth and the resulting file opened and appeared and parsed ok, both in terms of schema, data, scripts and security. A script for parsing through some text fields for an automated data migration takes about 13 minutes to run in FileMaker Advanced 11 and FileMaker Advanced 12. Performance appears to be substantially similar among the clients without making further changes, although given some of the new features of 12, it is entirely possible to get far better performance, especially if you have a 64 bit system.

Filemaker Server and Server Advanced
FileMaker Server packs perhaps the biggest change in a 64 bit engine on the backend. This will make FileMaker Server Admins much happier. This means that FileMaker Server will be able to address much larger datasets natively in RAM, without paging them to disk. Also of interest to the FileMaker Database administrator is new progressive backups which should allow for a better balance between performance of the database and protection of the data. Backup and plugins have now been spun out to their own processes so a problem with either backup or a problematic plugin won’t take down your whole FileMaker Server.

Containers in databases hosted on the server will also now support progressive downloads so that you won’t need to wait for an entire video to download before you can start watching it. This will be a boon to iOS users. Which leads me to the final piece of the new FileMaker 12 triumvirate.

FileMaker Go
FileMaker Go also sports many of the new features of its siblings. Support for the .fmp12 is the biggest change, but not the only change. Also of interest is the ability to both print and export records. This will make FileMaker Go much more attractive as a client for users out in the field. No longer will you need to have FileMaker on a laptop or desktop to get outputs for clients or hard copies for signatures. The final coup de grace for Filemaker Go is its price, free from the App Store. FileMaker Go still requires a database created with Filemaker Pro or Advanced 12. FileMaker Go doesn’t provide the tools for developing a database as that’s not really what it’s meant to be. Once developed, the database can either be hosted on the iOS device itself or FileMaker Server for collaboration with other users (both iOS and FileMaker Client users). Databases hosted locally, as may be the case if you have users going offline, can then be synchronized to the server when the device comes back online (which may require some custom work to get just right).

FileMaker 12 Pro, Advanced, Server and Server Advanced are available as either a boxed product or a download from www.filemaker.com. FileMaker Go is available as a free download from the App Store. 318 is a FileMaker partner and our staff are enthusiasts of the product. If you need help or want to discuss a migration to the latest version FileMaker, please feel free to contact your Professional Services Manager, or sales@318.com if you do not yet have one.

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