FileMaker Pro 13 ($329, $179/upgrade)—the next major release of the most popular database software for OS X and iOS—adds 50 new features that make it a worthwhile upgrade for existing owners and worthy of consideration if you need to build, maintain, or publish a database on the Apple platform.
New features in FileMaker Pro 13 include enhanced design and development tools such as custom themes, styles, a field picker, and the ability to control object visibility. If you're just getting started with FileMaker development, you'll appreciate its improved starter solutions that allow you to get up and running quickly. In the span of about an hour, I used the out-of-box inventory template to create a product database from an Excel file containing 27,000 rows, and a contact database out of a 6,000 record CSV file. It'd be nice if FileMaker was better able to match fields on import, but it's nothing that a little drag and drop couldn't fix.
If you need to access your data on mobile devices, FileMaker Pro 13 now allows you to add, edit, search, sort and report on data on the iPad and iPhone via FileMaker Go (more on that in a minute). You can also host data on FileMaker Server and share it in real-time with iPad and iPhone users.
FileMaker Pro 13 Advanced ($540, $299/upgrade) includes everything in Pro (above) and adds a suite of advanced development and customization tools including AES 256-bit encryption, a script debugger, multiple table import, field and table replication, and a plug-in API to name a few. If you need more powerful database solutions, then you should probably check out Advanced.
FileMaker Pro 13 Server is for database developers who need to manage and share databases created using FileMaker Pro and extend them to the web. Server allows FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go, and FileMaker WebDirect clients to simultaneously access updated information in real-time. WebDirect is a new web technology that runs your custom business solutions directly in a web browser on a desktop or laptop with no web development skills required.
FileMaker Go 13 (free, App Store) is the companion FileMaker app that runs on both iPad and iPhone. Like its cousin on the desktop, FileMaker Go includes several starter templates designed for tasks like managing contacts, tracking assets, and creating invoices. Databases created in the desktop version of FileMaker Pro can be emailed to to an iPad or iPhone for mobile use or you can sync with FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Server. Here are 50 examples of what you can do with FileMaker Go. New features in FileMaker Go 13 include bar code scanning and new iOS keyboard types.
FileMaker is the most robust database solution for both OS X and iOS, and the new features in version 13 solidify its position at the top of the heap. Whether you're building a simple asset or invoice database, or an enterprise-level solution with multiple concurrent users, FileMaker is simply the most powerful solution available on the Apple platform.