FileMaker Pro 5

"A Database Program Taken to a New Level"

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Type of Product
FileMaker Pro 5 is the newest version of a database program from FileMaker Inc., that helps individuals and workgroups to manage, organize, and share information within a network, over an intranet, or on a Web with little or no programming expertise and/or IS support. It can be used to manage and track assets, projects or processes with point-and-click control. By dragging and dropping fields, you can quickly create databases to view, enter, and print. You can share files over the Web, or seamlessly over a network between Windows and Mac versions of FileMaker Pro. Microsoft Excel files can be transformed into fully functional databases. The program includes business templates and a new Layout/Report Assistant to help you get started quickly and create sophisticated reports. Databases can be put on the Web with the FileMaker Web Companion. The program is available for Windows and Macintosh users. FileMaker Pro price: $249; Upgrade $149. See the FileMaker, Inc. web site for pricing and information on other products. FileMaker Pro 5 comes in 4 versions for different workgroup needs: (1) FileMaker Pro 5--for small workgroups of up to 10 FileMaker Pro guests over a network and up to 10 Web guests (or IP addresses in a 12-hour period); (2) FileMaker Pro 5 Unlimited--for workgroups of any size that need unlimited Web access to their data bases with up to 10 FileMaker Pro guests over a network; (3) FileMaker Pro 5 Server--for large workgroups of up to 250 users; and (4) FileMaker Pro 5 Developer--for in-house corporate developers and independent developers who need to author FileMaker Pro solutions.
User Level
Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced. This is a very intuitive and easy to use program. The features would appeal to a variety of users. The business templates and the new Layout/Report Assistant are excellent features to aid beginners. But the advanced options are robust enough for any professional.
  • User Interface--FileMaker Pro features a completely new, yet instantly familiar, interface that complements the look and feel of Microsoft Office. FileMaker Pro menus now follow the Microsoft Office standard, enabling new users who are familiar with Microsoft Office compatible products to quickly locate many common menu items. (New)

  • Microsoft Excel File Conversion--Turn many versions of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets into fully functional FileMaker Pro databases quickly, and then manipulate the data in ways not possible with a spreadsheet program. Conversion is even easier and better since FileMaker Pro 5 will now create field names from the column names in Excel and assign the appropriate data type to fields (text, number, date or time) based on data in the column. (Enhanced)

  • Table View--Provides a Table view (spreadsheet-like) of the current layout with columns that can easily be resized or reordered and even sorted. (New)

  • FileMaker Pro ODBC Driver--Make FileMaker Pro data available to ODBC compliant applications. Create charts using Microsoft Excel, enact easy mail merging or even build a custom front end to your FileMaker Pro solution. (New)

  • Instant Web Publish--Built-in HTTP support lets authorized users search edit, delete, and update FileMaker Pro records for up to 10 users. You don’t need to write HTML code or have a separate web server! With support for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) users now have the ability to publish databases to the Web using the layouts you have already designed in FileMaker Pro. (Enhanced)

  • Web Themes--Choose from seven new Web themes and layout options to customize the look and functionality of your Web-published FileMaker Pro databases. (New)

  • Web Security--Limit access to your web enabled databases by filtering IP addresses to only those who need access. (New)

  • Layout/Report Assistant--Simplify the creation of reports and forms including labels and sub summary reports. The assistant makes it easy by helping you create sub summary fields when needed and scripts to recreate the same report each time. (New)

  • Professional Solutions--Get started quickly with newly designed solutions–including asset management, mailing lists, expense reports, inventory management, personnel records, and more. (Enhanced)

  • Versatile Data Import--Automatically create FileMaker Pro databases using raw data from spreadsheets, word processors and other databases.

  • Data Handling Flexibility--Add, change or remove fields, layouts and calculations at any time without rebuilding the database.

  • Auto Indexing--Find records fast without the complexity of managing index files—automatically indexes fields when you need them.

  • Powerful Design Capabilities--Create compelling forms with comprehensive built-in graphic tools. Rotate text, fields, and layout objects in 90-degree increments for a customized look. Users can easily apply effects such as embossed, engraved, or drop shadow to objects as well as custom colors using a new larger color palette or web-safe colors to enhance fields, buttons, or objects on their layout. (Enhanced)

  • Drag-and-Drop Support--Design multiple layouts to enter, view and print information by simply dragging and dropping fields from the current file or related files.

  • Multimedia "Container" Fields--Enhance your files easily by integrating video footage, animations, sounds, still images stored in popular formats such as JPEG and GIF, and other multimedia content. As well as new support for QuickTime VR. (Enhanced)

  • Integrated Text Handling and Mail Merge--Create customized letters and other documents within FileMaker Pro. Add up to 64,000 characters in any text field and use built-in word processing capabilities to format the font, style, tabs, indents and so on.

  • Relational Database Capabilities--Enter data just once, and then use it in virtually any of your databases by creating one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many relationships between files. Sort information from related databases.

  • Active X Automation (Windows)--Automate tasks that span multiple applications such as getting sales data from a spreadsheet and loading it into FileMaker to run a regular report. (New)

  • Data Merging--Update records in one file with information from matching records in another file—great for updating the desktop copy of FileMaker Pro files with changes made on the road with a laptop or PDA. (New)

  • Data-Lookup Capabilities--Automatically copy and paste data between related files to avoid repetitive data entry.

  • ScriptMaker Feature--FileMaker Pro software's built-in point and click programming capability allows you to easily automate routine tasks and menu commands–anything from running reports to dialing the phone. You can now save more time by importing scripts you have already created from other FileMaker Pro databases. (Enhanced)

  • ODBC Import--Query and import ODBC data sources such as Oracle, SQL Server or Microsoft Access and use FileMaker Pro to make this information work for you.

  • Versatile Find Function--Retrieve only the information you need by specifying search parameters: range, less than, greater than, and/or/not, exact match, empty, duplicate, wildcard, or literal. Search for an exact value in a field.

  • Custom Field Formats--Accelerate data entry with customizable radio buttons, check boxes, pop-up menus and more–even use data from related files.

  • Conditional Value Lists--Further enhance the relational database functionality by allowing users to base a value in one field to conditionally update the value list in a related field.

  • Automatic Data Entry and Validation--Save time by inserting the current date or time, specific text, serial numbers, calculated values, and other data. Additional enhancement that allows users to easily set a new field entry to be strictly numeric, date (even 4 digit) or a time value. (Enhanced)

  • Built-in Spelling Checker--Helps eliminate spelling errors from records, reports and layouts.

  • More than 100 Calculation Functions--Streamline data entry, validation and analysis with simple or complex calculations.

  • User-definable Buttons--Easily customize the appearance and operation of your files with buttons you create in a single step.

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility--Share files seamlessly between Windows and Mac OS versions of FileMaker Pro 5 over your local area network, an Intranet or the Internet.

  • Instant Peer-to-Peer Networking--Convert a database into a networked solution in one simple step. Ideal for workgroups of up to 10 users.

  • Password Control--Allow authorized users to search, edit, delete and update records. Protect your data down to the layout and field level.

  • Automatic Record Locking--Ensure the integrity of your data in multi-user networked environments.

  • Instant File Updating--Automatic updating keeps you current by reflecting changes made by any user accessing your database over a network.

Below is a more in-depth discussion of some of the new features of FileMaker Pro 5.

Instant Web Publishing: Publishing and accessing databases over the Web is made easier in FileMaker Pro 5 which now includes support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Five new layout style options give you virtually the same appearance (as well as the ability to edit, search, delete, etc.) whether you access files from a network PC or through a Web browser. With the integrated support of CSS publishing databases to the Web is a simple point-and-click operation. Other programs require a special wizard or numerous steps to convert an Excel file into a database and publish it to the Web, and the resulting database usually doesn't look much like the original, and changes sometimes cannot be made to layouts or fields. With FileMaker Pro 5, updates to data and changes in layouts, such as new fields or deleted values, are reflected with the same ease.

ODBC Support: There is more robust support for Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) in FileMaker Pro 5. The previous version enabled building SQL queries to import data from other ODBC-compliant applications like Microsoft Access or Oracle. New Data Access Companions now allow users to query FileMaker Pro through those ODBC applications, whether the query comes from the host or another network client. It is now possible to create charts, mail merge files, or build a front-end with another application with Local and Remote Data Access Companions. You can get a complete list of ODBC Drivers supporting FileMaker Pro from the FileMaker, Inc. Web site:

Merge/Update Data: The new Import Records feature makes reconciling data a breeze. Mobile users and teams changing data in the same files can quickly reconcile files by importing updates to their own files.

ActiveX Task Automation: If you want to automate a task across several applications without writing code, you can do this in FileMaker Pro 5. With ActiveX Automation support, you can open the program databases and execute scripts as part of a Visual Basic application.

Microsoft Office Integration: The FileMaker Pro 5 interface has been redesigned to interfacemake getting around simpler. Adjustments to the menus and the addition of toolbars make users already comfortable with Microsoft Office feel right at home in FileMaker Pro 5. Thus the intuitive design and ease of use of FileMaker's interface has been enhanced.

Layout: There are a variety of enhancements to the layout features: (1) a large color palette has been added, with custom color capability, allowing access to the entire System color palette; (2) a separate Web-safe palette ensures that the Web browser view of the database is virtually identical to the Browse mode in FileMaker Pro 5; (3) three-dimensional effects are now available in one click for fields, buttons and objects; (4) the program now supports Apple QuickTime 3.0 or later, QuickTime VR 3.0 or later, and any file type supported by those applications. QuickTime movies in FileMaker Pro container fields may be viewed directly, or through a Web browser using the Instant Web Publishing feature; (5) table view joins the Form and List views as default layout options. The new Table View option creates a multiple record display in rows and columns, much like a spreadsheet; (6) conditional value lists allow the creation of secondary fields that display only the values selected using criteria defined by a relationship. When a database user makes a choice in a primary field, non-applicable values in secondary fields are not displayed, based on the relationships described using the conditional value list feature; (7) most Dialog Boxes in FileMaker Pro 5 can now be resized for optimal viewing.

Security: The new enhancements to security features in the program help deep data safe from unauthorized access over the Intranet and Internet. The Web Companion can limit database access via Web browsers to IP addresses on a specified list. Log files can also track access through the Web Companion. Using the new Multi-User (Hidden) option in the File Sharing dialog box creates a hidden database, thus this protects relational files from network users who may try to open the wrong database by mistake.

New Tutorials: FileMaker Pro always has been easy to use, but it the new tutorials in FileMaker Pro 5 make it even more painless to use and learn. The tutorials take users through defining relationships and creating databases, calculations, scripts and reports step-by-step.

Personal Comments
FileMaker Pro 5 is a worthwhile update. The remodeled interface is easier to use and intuitive. The Layout/Report Assistant is helpful with it step-by-step help.
System Requirements


Intel compatible computer 486/33 or later
At least 16MB RAM required
At least 20MB of free hard disk space
Windows 95/98/NT 4.0 (with Service Pack 3) or newer
Sharing databases over a network requires enabling TCP/IP or Microsoft IPX/SPX network within Windows 95/98/NT 4.0

Mac OS

Power Macintosh or Mac OS computer with PPC 601 processor or better
At least 16MB RAM
At least 24MB of free hard disk space
System 7.6.1 or newer
Sharing databases over a network requires enabling TCP/IP or an AppleTalk network connection

Graphics: Web Spice
Web Page Editor: Macromedia Dreamweaver 3.0
Scanner: Hewlett Packard ScanJet 6250C Professional Series