It’s Heeeeeeeeere …

Well, there have been rumors, and nondisclosure agreements, and preview releases, and “neither confirm nor deny” statements, and “may or may not” presentations, and all sorts of weeping and gnashing of teeth. But the day has arrived.

FileMaker 14 has been released!

(Cue fireworks, cheering, popping champagne corks, general rowdiness. I’ll wait.)

Okay, so let’s cover the high points. I’ll leave the finer details for later.

First, no, you don’t have to convert existing FileMaker solutions created in versions 12 or 13. The file format is the same (.fmp12). So your old stuff will run just fine in version 14.

Second, the API for PHP hasn’t been changed. Your old web pages won’t have to be upgraded or changed to work with Server 14. So the upgrade path is very smooth.

Now for the good stuff: Opening the presents! Let’s see what’s in the goodie bag.

For starters, we get faster WebDirect performance. FileMaker says you should see about a 25% performance improvement under most circumstances. That’s good news for this out-of-the-box web technology.

And, to my mind, one of the absolute best features is something called “Network Resilience”. As we know if we’ve spent any time working with FileMaker at all, it’s a constant communicator – the server needs to maintain contact with each client in order to keep it updated with changes from other clients. Unfortunately, if the network goes wonky, you can wind up breaking that communication, and the client can do something rude. Like this:

But now, with Network Resilience, you’ll get a dialog like this when your network sorts itself out:

That alone is worth the price of admission. It vastly improves the stability of the product when network reliability is less than ideal.

Also in the reliability department is the option for a standby server. It’s not completely automatic failover, but you can have a standby server that, when combined with progressive backups, can have you back up and running in very short order. It’s going to help a lot in applications where higher availability is required.

Of course, that’s not all we get. We get some nifty new tools for designing interfaces. Like button bars – objects that subdivide into buttons and automatically stretch up and down when anchored, and even come with individual customizable icons. Oh, and we get a whole slew of icons to work with, too. Ever have trouble matching colors with the FileMaker themes? Good news there – they now give us the option of selecting colors that are matched to the theme in use. You now have a lot more control over the individual components of an object, too, like the arrow on a drop-down list, the calendar on a drop-down calendar, and so forth. And of course, there are a bunch of new themes.

There’s a wealth of new stuff just for developers. Topping the list is the new Script Workspace. This moves the product more in the direction of a text editor and gives you way more flexibility when editing scripts. It’s not completely a text editor – you still have everything based on an object model – but you can edit script steps directly in the editor, move steps around, leave blank lines, and you even have line numbers. Things are color-coded, too!

The security dialog’s received an overhaul. There’s a new “Basic” view that allows access to the most commonly needed settings (everything else is still available through the “Advanced” view). You have improved control over signature capture and over the touch keyboard through scripting. There are some new Script Triggers that allow you to capture events from outside applications in the iOS environment (one very cool demo shows a FileMaker database being manipulated from a Bluetooth headset, of all things). The calculation dialog has received an overhaul, making it easier to create and edit calculations.

Naturally, I can’t cover all the new features in a single blog post. We’ll be evaluating all the changes over the next few months, and will likely be upgrading our operation to version 14 in the very near future. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us, and happy FileMaking!