FileMaker Migrates to Palm

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Deborah Colton, mobile products manager, and Kevin Mallon, public relations manager, of FileMaker stopped by our Demo Room recently to display their new product for Palm OS-based devices, FileMaker Mobile, which ships today (December 11, 2000). FileMaker Mobile is a $49 add-on to FileMaker Pro 5 that allows users to update and transfer single-user database information between their desktops and handhelds.

FileMaker says it developed the mobile product as a reaction to user demand. "We consistently found that 30 percent of registered FileMaker Pro 5 users also own a Palm," Mallon says.

To meet that demand, FileMaker developed the first integrated database for Windows, Mac, and Palm operating systems. FileMaker Mobile allows users to view, add, modify, and delete data on their Palm-OS devices. However, the plug-in has none of FileMaker Pro's advanced scripting capabilities. Instead, it just uses fields and data that users set in the desktop version. Records are transferred back and forth during synchronizations. Users can set the standard conduit controls for data overwriting or duplicating.

The catch? The synchronization process only lets FileMaker Mobile work with single-user databases. With multiple-user database capability, the software would have to determine which users have overwrite privileges -- something that would take longer to develop. "The idea was to get the product to market first, and get multiuser later," Mallon says . Until then, users can work around the issue by temporarily setting their FileMaker databases to single-user before syncing.

This isn't the first time FileMaker has developed a version of its software for handhelds. "The only product we ever pre-announced but never shipped was FileMaker for the Newton," Mallon says. That product never made it to market because Apple killed off Newton development. But the experience helped FileMaker to develop FileMaker Mobile for the Palm OS.

Business and professional users are the main market for FileMaker Mobile, Colton says, rather than programmers. She believes the product's main benefit is the freedom it gave users to take FileMaker data on the road and increased ability to help keep data current on desktops and in handhelds.

Mallon also talked a little bit about FileMaker's upcoming migration to OS X. He says that FileMaker will be fully Carbonized, and will reap major benefits from OS X's multithreading capabilities. "(Apple) thinks of us now as the poster child of OS X," Mallon says.

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