Revolution, MySQL vs FileMaker

Bill Marriott wjm at wjm.org
Mon Oct 2 16:30:56 EDT 2006


Dan,

Thanks for your comments! To be honest, I let FileMaker Pro gather dust on 
my shelf during the 4.0 - 6.0 years because that point you describe of 
"hitting the wall" came all too early. However, version 7.0 of FileMaker 
truly re-invigorated the product. And, version 8.5 (the current release) is 
simply amazing.

The current version of FileMaker is truly relational. It has a built-in, 
drag-and-drop interface for defining relationships between tables (which now 
can all reside in a single file). ScriptMaker has been beefed up 
considerably. The Instant Web Publishing scheme has been totally re-invented 
and now works almost exactly like a full FileMaker client would, with 
multiple layouts and greatly expanded scripting support. The "Advanced" (or 
developer) version now has a debugger and variable watcher, as well as 
powerful, recursive custom functions. Most all of the restrictions on 
field-sizes and file-sizes have been removed or increased to levels you 
won't encounter in the real world.

One of my current FileMaker Pro projects uses IWP to service a 
nationally-recognized hospital with more than 8,000 staff. Any one of the 
staffers can log into the system using the password they already use to 
access other intranet resources at the hospital. It looks and feels just 
like any other web-based tool they might use, if not a little nicer. It is 
hosted externally on a secure server for a cost of $40/month. So, in this 
scenario there was no expensive up-front purchase of FileMaker Server 
Advanced (we're essentially "renting" it for less than $500/yr), and no 
"client" software to distribute and update. I didn't have to write a single 
line of HTML/XML/PHP/JavaScript code; it's all handled by FileMaker. The 
entire solution took less than 80 hours to build. Minor changes to the 
system -- such a adding a new field or a new report -- can be implemented by 
the client on their own. And other groups at the hospital can easily 
interface with the server for any custom work they need to do.

Contrast this with a program I wrote in Rev to interact with G4tv's 
"SpockMarket" game. This program fetches stock values from an XML data 
source as quickly as once every second. It generates real-time graphs of 
stock values and lets people make trades manually or based on predetermined 
criteria. The whole thing has a futuristic look and feel with multiple 
windows, custom window shapes, sounds, and animation. (It's a game, after 
all!) Because I was only using a fraction of what a full database would do, 
I was able to get everything I needed coded in Rev itself. (For example, 
there is no need to print anything.) Nevertheless, I still had to "roll my 
own" table objects as well as build certain database-like sorting/selection 
routines. This was non-trivial work, and took a lot of debugging to get 
right.

I hope this illustrates why you might select Rev in one situation and 
FileMaker in another.

"Dan Shafer" <revolutionary.dan at gmail.com> 
wrote in message 
news:70ed6b130610021008q24d23065sa4fd59b1bbb29233 at mail.gmail.com...
> Bill,
>
> As someone who has in fact used FileMaker to create a full-blown 
> application
> (though not of the standalone variety) on several occasions, I can attest 
> to
> at least much of what you say. My experience is all FMPro 5.5 and earlier,
> so it is seriously outdated, but I always found FM to be really great up 
> to
> a point and then really difficult or impossible to get beyond some wall or
> another. Deployment was always an issue for me even though I did spend a 
> LOT
> of time trying to understand and use the Web deployment approach. I ended 
> up
> contracting with an outfit that hosted FM solutions on their servers and
> that not only cost way more than I thought it should, it was complex as 
> all
> get-out.
>
> It was nice to read a clearly knowledgeable update of the FM situation vis 
> a
> vis building database apps in FM vs. Rev. I appreciate the time you took 
> to
> create such a detailed and helpful response.
>
> Dan
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