FileMaker, Inc.'s FileMaker Pro is the database program recommended for ISC's clients, including off-campus students and is in common use at Penn. FileMaker Pro can be used to build flat file and relational databases from raw data for form letters, events, reports, and statistical analysis. Features include scripting, interoperability with Microsoft Excel file formats, and word processing with tabs, indents, font control, and embedded data fields in text.
Important Notes: Many Schools and Centers have standardized on the use of specific database applications (such as Microsoft Access, Oracle, etc.) and may not support FileMaker Pro for their faculty and staff. Information Systems & Computing (ISC) strongly suggests that faculty and staff speak to their local support provider to determine which product(s) are supported before selecting database software.
On December 3, 2013, FileMaker released FileMaker Pro 13. ISC and others across campus are currently evaluating FileMaker Pro 13.
FileMaker Pro versions 11.0.x and above are compatible with Windows 7, with some relatively minor issues. FileMaker Pro versions 12.0.x and above are fully compatible with Windows 8.x.
OS X compatibility
FileMaker Pro versions 12.0.x and above are fully compatible with OS X Mavericks. FileMaker Pro 11.0.x is generally compatible with OS X Mavericks when updated to version 11.0.4.
FileMaker Pro is commercial software that can be purchased from the Computer Connection at an educational discount.
Configuration instructions are included with the software.
What's new in FileMaker Pro 13?
FileMaker WebDirect: Access FileMaker databases right through an HTML 5-compliant web browser. Deploy a database solution right in the web browser with no web development skills required
FileMaker Platform: new themes and styles give a uniform, professional look to databases
- 256-bit AES encryption support
- Available in subscription-based pricing: US$9 monthly for FileMaker Pro 13, US$15 monthly for FileMaker Pro Advanced 13, US$29 montly for FileMaker Server 13
- Perpetual license is also available: US$329 (US$179 upgrade) for FileMaker Pro 13, US$549 (US$299 upgrade) for FileMaker Pro Advanced 13, US$1044 (US$528 upgrade) for FileMaker Server 13
FileMaker Go 13
FileMaker Go 13 (also released on December 3, 2013) is enhanced with new iOS-like features: popovers, gestures, slide controls, new keyboards, barcode scanning using the iPhone or iPad built-in camera.
FileMaker Go 13 for iPad and FileMaker Go 13 for iPhone are separate products, and are both available free from the App Store on iTunes. FileMaker Go 13 is compatible with the FileMaker Pro 12 database format.
A number of Schools and Centers at Penn are providing lynda.com training to their faculty and staff. Considerable training is offered for FileMaker Pro versions 11 and 12. For more information, see the lynda.com @ Penn page.
- The FileMaker Pro web site.
Important Note: Many Schools and Centers have standardized on the use of specific database applications (such as Microsoft Access, Oracle, etc.) and may not support FileMaker Pro for their faculty and staff. Information Systems & Computing (ISC) strongly suggests that faculty and staff speak to their local support provider to determine which product(s) are supported before selecting database software.
FileMaker Inc.'s FileMaker Pro database software is widely used on campus. Because of FileMaker's ease-of-use and low barriers to implementation, it is often used by Schools and Centers for small-to-medium scale departmental databases. These databases often include confidential or sensitive data.
FileMaker Pro 13, released in December 2013, is the latest version of FileMaker's cross-platform database management system (DBMS).
ISC will support FileMaker Pro 13 for its clients, including off-campus students. ISC recommends that most users adopt a "wait and see" approach, continuing to use previous versions of FileMaker Pro until after the initial bugs in FileMaker Pro 13 are identified and fixed, which is often signalled by the first patch.
ISC expects to place FileMaker Pro 13 on the supported products list for FY 2014.
FileMaker Pro 13 is compatible with Windows 7 (Home Premium or greater) with 1 GB minimum required, and OS X Lion (10.7) with 2 GB minimum required.
It is extremely important to note the lack of compatibility with older operating systems such as Windows Vista and OS X Snow Leopard (10.6). This means that Schools and Centers with a significant installed base of these operating systems cannot move to FileMaker Pro 13 until these operating systems have been phased out.
Product history at the University
ISC strongly suggests that Schools and Centers that are still using FileMaker Pro 7.0.x or below make plans to transition to FileMaker Pro 11.0.x or above. These newer versions have many improvements, including significantly improved security features. Fiscal 2006 was the last year of University support for FileMaker Pro 6.0, Fiscal 2008 was the last year of University support for FileMaker Pro 7.0.x, Fiscal 2009 was the last year of University support for FileMaker Pro 8.x, Fiscal 2010 was the last year of University support for FileMaker Pro 9.0.x, and Fiscal 2012 was the last year of University support for FileMaker Pro 10.0.x.
Various versions of FileMaker Pro have been supported at the University since the early 1990s.
FileMaker Pro 8.5 for OS X was the first Universal binary version of FileMaker Pro.
FileMaker Pro versions 11.0.x, and 12.0.x are on the supported products list in Fiscal 2013, andFileMaker Pro version 13.0.x is expected to be placed on the supported product list for Fiscal 2014..
FileMaker Pro 12 was released in April 2012 and uses a different file format than previous versions. Files can not be shared between FileMaker Pro 12 and older versions of FileMaker Pro, and once a file has been upgraded to the version 12 format it can not easily be downgraded to the earlier formats.
FileMaker Pro 13 was released in December 2013 and uses the same file format as FileMaker Pro 12.
There are some known issues with FileMaker Pro 12, a few of which are especially relevant to Penn's users:
- FileMaker Pro 12 uses a different file format than previous versions. Files can not be shared between FileMaker Pro 12 and older versions of FileMaker Pro, and once a file has been upgraded to the version 12 format it can not easily be downgraded to the earlier formats.
Note: despite the different file format, FileMaker Pro 12 co-exists effectively with older versions of FileMaker - in other words, multiple versions of FileMaker Pro can be running on the same system without any obvious ill effects.
- FileMaker Pro 12 does not work with older versions of FileMaker Pro Server. Schools and Centers who use older versions of FileMaker Pro Server will not be able to deploy FileMaker Pro 12.
- FileMaker Pro 12 does not work on older operating systems such as OS X Leopard (10.5).
Current University-supported versions of FileMaker Pro (6.x and 7.x) have two significantly different security models with substantially different levels of security.
FileMaker Pro 6.0 and below (including FileMaker Server 5.5):
- Use a primitive security model that uses a password as both the ID and password.
- Use a password encryption method for sending passwords over the network that is extremely weak by current standards. FileMaker Pro 6.0 and below cannot force a minimum password length.
- Send data over the network unencrypted and unencoded.
FileMaker Pro 7.0 and above and FileMaker Server 7.0:
- Have a new and significantly superior security system with a unified account/privilege environment.
- Use a capable password encryption method. FileMaker Server 7.0 can require SSL encryption when sending and receiving passwords over the network from FileMaker Pro 7.0 and above clients. FileMaker Pro 7.0 and above and FileMaker Server 7.0 can also force a minimum password length.
- FileMaker Server 7.0 can require SSL encryption when sending and receiving data over the network from FileMaker Pro 7.0 and above clients.
For all versions of FileMaker Pro:
- It is extremely important to note that any database application, including any version of FileMaker Pro, can be made far less secure by not following good general security practices. In particular, using easy-to-guess passwords (e.g.
password), can remove almost all of the security initially built into FileMaker Pro.
- It is also important to remember that any database code is only as secure as the laptop, desktop, or server on which it is installed. Thus, providers must ensure the physical security of their databases.
ISC also strongly suggests that Schools and Centers using FileMaker Pro databases implement passwords for all types of users - in other words, not even the most basic user should be able to use a FileMaker Pro database without entering a password.
For more information
- FileMaker, Inc.'s FileMaker Security page.
- The University's Information Security Resources for Application Developers page.
- The University's Privacy web site.