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Happy 30th Birthday FileMaker®, you aged well!

We are wondering if you have ever considered FileMaker for Your Database Engine?

Yes, we know: if you are in the database Server end of the business, the lion’s share is claimed by Oracle, MS SQL Server, and MySQL, the workhorse of most web servers running on BSD/Linux systems. SQLite reigns in small Android powered devices (why do they insist in call them “phones”, anyway?) and tablets, a deceivingly modest, application embedded DB engine. But on desktop level, things are not so clear cut.

There is ample choice at these level, from MS Access to PostgreSQL (mainly for those UNIX die-hards). But another agent has been gaining strength during the last years, and that’s FileMaker®.

But this is an Apple thing, or is it?

Well, it was. Last versions of FileMaker® are available for both Apple and Windows platforms. Interoperability has not been an issue for years, since besides it native format, FileMaker® can import and export data in the usual plain text files, MS Excel .xls/.xlsx files, ODBC (a platform independent standard to connect unrelated databases, the “internet of databases”, so to speak), and html files and JDBC (a Java API standard), prove of its web vocation. And while MS Access does comply with ODBC, it lacks the capacity to cope with large fields like images, which FileMaker® can, a feature that comes handy in this era when text-based content gives precedence to the visual.

Now we talk about capacity, one thing worth pondering is, the limit for a single database in MS Access is about 2 GB in a single file, while FileMaker® sets its mark at 8,000 GB in a single file. Depending on operating system, and configuration, and you name it. We all know some projects die out of success, because they do not escalate well. MS Access is grandiose in the Desktop environment, but if you need more power, very likely you will have to switch to MS SQL Server. And while FileMaker® cannot compete, and does not intend to, with those monsters in the server market, boasting sometimes of “unlimited” capacity, it offers a wider range of applications, always with the same file format and look and feel, from FileMaker® Pro/Advanced at desktop level, all the way up to FileMaker® Server, or down to FileMaker® Go, for iOS powered iPhones and iPads. A market that has been somehow neglected. In these area FileMaker® clearly outguns other competitors as MS Access.


Apple is renowned by their products user-friendliness, and “their” database is not an exception. The system offers the casual user tools to easily design a database, and already available templates for visualising contents and queries. The learning curve is not an issue. Are there no customization capabilities beyond this? Well, yes. But let’s be clear about this: Apple provides a scripting language that allows interacting with the database, AppleScript. But if you have in mind some serious developer work, you better settle for the Pro Advanced flavour, with extended tools for debugging, and creating more sophisticated menus and templates than the basic version.

This is where FileMaker® does not (yet) in our opinion come even close to MS Access, with its lesser visual appeal, but backed by a powerful general purpose language as VBA, part of the .NET suite, and with lots of code already ready to use, not to mention the multitude of forums and other resources available through internet.

We hope this helps you to understand the differences, now back to our opening question: Have you ever considered FileMaker® for your DB engine?

For an open, honest and no-cost chat on your best options, please contact any of the Application Development team on 01-2790020.

Olas is an independent entity and this web site has not been authorised, sponsored, or otherwise affiliated with FileMaker®, Inc. FileMaker® is a trademark of FileMaker®, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

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