FileMaker, a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple, makes it easy for those without any programming knowledge as well as experienced programmers to build line-of-business apps for the iPhone, iPad, Windows PC and Mac. The product has been around since the 1980s (back then it was called Nutshell), but has evolved ever since.
With the release of this latest version, FileMaker now supports new iOS features like Touch ID and 3D Touch, as well as new technologies like iBeacons for building location-based apps. On the software side, FileMaker now supports Apple’s app extensions, too.
The update obviously includes a huge number of other new features, but some of the standouts are improved security features (including improved support for SSL certifications), integration with PostgresSQL and IBM’s DB2 databases (in the Pro and Server versions) and performance updates across the FileMaker tools. With WebDirect, FileMaker now also allows users to access their FileMaker apps from a web browser — and while the last version of the tools featured WebDirect support for tablet-sized devices, this new version also supports phones.
In addition, the company is also now making its tools more easily available for teams. For $888 per year, five users now get access to the FileMaker Server, Pro, Go and WebDirect, which needs the FileMaker Server to work.
As Andy LeCates, FileMaker’s director of solutions consulting, told me, the focus of FileMaker remains making it easy to use and enable teams to build custom apps for the kind of unrepeatable processes for which off-the-shelf apps from the App Store aren’t quite right. “Buying apps is easy, but doesn’t give you flexibility,” he told me. At the same time, though, traditional coding is hard, expensive and time-consuming.
It’s worth noting that the FileMaker team isn’t trying to help you build enterprise applications at scale. LeCates says most of the apps built with its tools are for groups with fewer than 100 people — many of them in medium-sized businesses that don’t have an IT department but still need to build custom apps to be able to grow and compete. Many SalesForce users, for example, use the service to augment their CRM systems.
To make it easier to get started, FileMaker 15 now also features an updated onboarding experience, but, in addition, the team also added new tools for those experienced developers who want to dig into the code behind these apps. The editor will now highlight script errors, for example, and allow you to undo scripts.
Looking ahead, LeCates tells me the team is switching up its release cadence to keep up with the quickly changing platforms it targets. It’s now moving to an annual release schedule, up from the 18- to 24-month cadence it used before.