Claris has given notice that it intends to pull no punches in the Windows market. At PC Expo in a few weeks, Claris will show a pre-release version of FileMaker Pro 2.0 for Windows, along with its almost identical twin for the Mac. The marketing elves have been working long and hard on this release, and the press materials are extensive and useful, hopefully foreshadowing the program itself. Claris’s emphasis on the Windows version of FileMaker Pro 2.0 is especially interesting given Apple’s forthcoming ad campaign against Windows – perhaps this shows that Claris is not completely under Apple’s control.
But enough of the marketing nonsense – you want to read about the programs. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that the two versions of FileMaker Pro are almost identical, sharing 85% of the core code,. If you’ve used FileMaker Pro on a Mac, you’ll be able to use it under Windows, and you’ll even be able to transfer files directly, without any sort of conversion. From the promotional pictures that Claris distributed, the two versions can create databases which even look almost identical save for the Windows-specific interface elements like the ugly underlining of the Alt key character and the short filename in the title bar. One of FileMaker Pro 2.0’s main selling points on the Windows side is the interface since Claris is known for producing well thought-out interfaces that bring the power of the programs to the surface.
Other useful features that may not be common in Windows databases include ScriptMaker, which allows you to create scripts by selecting items from menus and clicking on buttons, extensive graphic tools for designing layouts, sophisticated text handling that makes FileMaker Pro into an excellent platform for database publishing, and instant updating of multi-user databases, even over mixed platform networks. There’s also automatic record locking and release for ensuring data integrity, and FileMaker Pro 2.0 still has its multi-user file server technology, so you don’t have to have a file server to take advantage of the network capabilities.
This isn’t to imply that the versions are entirely equal. The Windows version uses Dynamic Link Libraries to support Novell NetWare and PhoneNet Talk networks, and it supports TrueType, Bitstream Facelift, and Adobe Type Manager fonts. Windows-based help is included, and for those of you with extra PC sound hardware, you can even add sound to your databases. QuickTime is still limited to the Mac version, although that will change when Apple ships QuickTime for Windows. The Mac version also supports Apple Events in scripting, so FileMaker Pro 2.0 can talk to other Apple Event-aware programs like HyperCard, Resolve, QuicKeys, and Frontier. Claris included other System 7 features, so much so that Claris claims it is "System 7 omniscient," including support for the Data Access Manager, Balloon Help, and TrueType, along with the Apple Event support mentioned above. Finally, you will be able to reorder layouts, reserialize records, and use wildcards in searches, and for those of you who do database publishing, FileMaker Pro 2.0 has more complete style control for text.
Without having seen a pre-release copy of the program, it certainly sounds like Claris has a winner with the dual-platform FileMaker Pro 2.0. We’ll only know in the fall when it ships ($399 list, $89 upgrades for existing owners). Interestingly, the press information also implies that Claris wants to release another Windows product soon, and high on the list is MacDraw Pro, although my sources have said that ClarisWorks might be even more likely.
Claris — 408/727-8227 — 800/544-8554