A Chat with Andy LeCates About FileMaker 15 Platform
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
We recently visited with Andy LeCates with FileMaker to discuss the latest release of the FileMaker platform.
ADM: FileMaker launched its new FileMaker 15 platform on May 10. Can you tell us a little bit about what that is?
LeCates: The new FileMaker 15 Platform provides stronger essentials to make unique custom apps for your business that work seamlessly across iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac and the web. It provides new features to enhance the mobility, automation, integration, ease of use, security and performance of your custom apps.
Some of these upgrades include support for 3DTouch, TouchID and iBeacons, among other changes. Another addition is new app extensions for workflow integration that allow users to leverage the unique capabilities of other apps on their iOS device to share and modify FileMaker content.
With FileMaker 15, users can now use their mobile phone to access FileMaker apps in a web browser. The responsive user interface in FileMaker WebDirect optimizes buttons, fonts and menus for a streamlined experience on your phone.
ADM: What does FileMaker 15 have in store as far as advancements/improvements for app developers?
LeCates: FileMaker offers developers flexible programming tools. For instance, FileMaker Pro provides an easy-to-use script workspace that offers point and click simplicity for new developers but also powerful text authoring for professional developers. Developers create apps easily and effectively for clients on iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac and the web.
The speed of development, combined with ease of deployment and versatility offers developers a powerful tool at any skill level. FileMaker 15 offers improvements for any developer.
FileMaker 15 includes the following specific updates:
- Undo scripting: Ever accidentally delete something in the Script Workspace and wish you could get it back? Instantly recover your scripting work with multiple undo. Now you can undo and redo your work as many times as needed. Changes aren’t finalized until you both save and exit Script Workspace.
- Highlighted script errors” Red highlighted text helps you easily identify problem areas in the Script Workspace, saving you valuable development time. This feature is useful when importing scripts from other FileMaker apps or for more complex apps with multiple scripts.
- ESS Adapter: Connect to even more External SQL Data Sources including PostgresSQL and IBM DB2 using the ESS Adapter.
ADM: What prompted these advancements/improvements?
LeCates: We are constantly improving and revising our platform to evolve with changing technologies. We have a very active community of FileMaker developers, including members of the FileMaker Business Alliance, with whom we work closely. The community provides us invaluable feedback that we take into careful consideration when working on new updates to our platform. The current Script Workspace was introduced last year with FileMaker 14, so of course we’ve been paying close attention to it.
ADM: This new version includes support for iBeacons. Can you give an example of this at work?
LeCates: With support for iBeacons, FileMaker users can get proximity-based data and behavior from their custom app. When your iPhone or iPad is in close proximity to iBeacon devices you’ve previously set up, a FileMaker custom app can provide relevant information or change its behavior in response to where you’re standing.
What does this look like in practice? Well, in some industries iBeacons have been used to tune a customers shopping experience when moving through a store, or to provide distribution employees pick-lists depending on where they are in a warehouse.
As the FileMaker platform provides easier access to iBeacon technology for small and medium size businesses we believe we’ll see many new ideas emerge. For instance, one of our developers has created an app for a fitness center. This app uses iBeacons to help keep track of which exercise machines are in use or have been scheduled by someone else.
Another use case would be for museums to provide custom audio tracks for customers navigating exhibits in whatever order they choose. At a small conference, an app could provide you speaker information when you walk into a presentation room. The possibilities seem endless.
ADM: How is FileMaker 15 different from other competitor custom app development platforms?
LeCates: FileMaker has a proven track record of empowering business teams of all sizes with the ability to quickly and easily create and deploy custom apps that meet their unique needs. The FileMaker platform provides everything needed to develop these apps, and it enables faster deployment and modification as needs change or opportunities emerge.
The fact that creating the apps requires no programming skills or repetition of coding projects across platforms means less time spent building a custom app and more time to focus on getting work done. These apps can be seamlessly deployed across iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac and the Web, allowing organizations the ultimate in mobility.
ADM: Can you provide a scenario in which an app made with FileMaker 15 helps improve a business process?
LeCates: For a platform that servers millions of customers in every industry, it’s hard to choose!
One of our customers, a small craft brewery, operated on paper and a mess of spreadsheets before they developed their custom app. Just like other types of manufacturers, brewers need to track ingredients and supplies, conduct sensory analysis, track production and manage inventory. By implementing a custom app, these operations can be streamlined, which means the company can concentrate more on what they do best – brewing beer.
ADM: What are some of the inefficient processes FileMaker is helping businesses solve?
LeCates: As we like to put it, our biggest competition is doing nothing. People decide to keep their slow manual processes, packaged apps that don’t work the way they do and separate silos of information. For those who want to improve the way they work and cannot find the right app for them, custom apps are the perfect solution.
With the FileMaker Platform, you get incredible customization compared to off-the-shelf, packaged apps, plus great cost-effectiveness and ease of development compared to traditional programming.
Our customers use their apps to streamline and simplify a wide variety of operations. This includes everything from improving field and customer service delivery, to managing invoices and inventory, to managing schedules. In a survey released earlier this year, we found that more than 60 percent of FileMaker customers were using apps to help them manage customers, clients or members. More than 50 percent reported using apps to help provide reporting for analysis.
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