July 26, 2007

Filemaker for composite application development

It’s not accurate to judge a product by its most obnoxious or least clueful partisans. Hence, even though some insult-spewers take umbrage at an accurate description of FileMaker’s capabilities,* it wouldn’t be fair to write the product off entirely.

*Mercifully, none of said insult-spewers seems to actually work at the company. I must confess that this makes it easier for me to take the (somewhat) high road here.

Possibly due to an actual understanding of enterprise technology, Tim Dietrich has weighed in on on the discussion from a different angle. Here’s a quote in which he gives an example of very successful FileMaker use:

Here’s an example of where FileMaker is a good fit — and where a traditional SQL database isn’t: A few weeks ago, I was given the task of developing a proof-of-concept for an electronic purchasing tool. This tool needed to be able to obtain real-time product information from a suppler that provides it’s data using Web services, allow the purchasing agent to make some decisions regarding what products they wish to purchase, and to submit the purchase order to the supplier as a cXML document. By the end of the first day I had submitted our first test order to the supplier (much to their surprise!). By the end of the second day, we had a full-featured application built. In other words, we went from specifications to proof-of-concept to production in a matter of days. (Try doing that in something other than FileMaker Pro.)

And you know what that is, ladies and gentlemen? That’s a story of composite application development. In composite application development, an app dev tool (not a DBMS) is used to quickly throw together an app by splicing together pre-exiting web services and building a simple UI. Notwithstanding that Dennis Moore has been talking about this over at SAP for years — and notwithstanding that every EAI (or alternative-buzzword data integration) vendor has some sort of a start on the technology — there aren’t any obvious, full-featured composite app dev tool leaders. If FileMaker can fill that role, more power to them.

And conceivably they might, because FileMaker’s two biggest limitations aren’t particularly relevant in that market. Team programming isn’t much of an issue in the classic composite app dev paradigm, and its DBMS weaknesses — well, actually, in this scenario FileMaker’s DBMS capabilities are barely relevant at all.


2 Responses to “Filemaker for composite application development”

  1. Chris Kubica on July 26th, 2007 11:34 am

    Please, it is FileMaker. Capital ‘M’.

    Hi there. I didn’t spew insults. I very calmly and professionally asked you to reveal your sources for sweeping and inaccurate information about FileMaker software. Like when you said “FileMaker is limited in its overall website building capabilities.” With all due respect, this alone shows a complete lack of understanding of the FileMaker product line.

    In any case, Tim is right. FileMaker *is* a great rapid-application development (RAD) prototyping tool.

    But FileMaker is, and always has been, a great workgroup-sized database management system that is easy enough for anyone to use and yet can scale to a level where NASA, the Federal Government and most of the Fortune 100 companies, among others, can use it for deploying easy-to-use and support, low cost, robust, secure, cross-platform applications.

  2. Curt Monash on July 26th, 2007 1:31 pm

    Sorry about the M. I’ll fix it.

    My source was the company’s spokespeople. I said that before.

    If you’re so sure I misquoted (or, more precisely, misparaphrased) them, by all means encourage them to contradict me.


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