March 11, 2010

Filemaker 11 Released

I call this: computers,tech — Posted by KP @ 8:07 am

My Twitter feed lit up the other day with news that Filemaker 11 has been released.

I use Filemaker to design a stage management database that does pretty much everything I need to do. Ever. So of course this is a big deal to me.

New Features

Charts is the one they’re really pushing in the marketing, but have you ever seen a stage management chart? I mean it would be cute if you wanted to look at trends, like have a little pie chart showing how many tickets you sold relative to capacity or something, but I don’t think a stage manager has ever needed a chart.

The two words that got my attention were “filtered portals,” which is one of those things I’m always shocked it doesn’t do already. A portal is like a window within a window, for lack of a better term, that pulls data from some other table in the database and displays it as a list. For instance, my venue information layout contains data about a single venue (name, address, union status, etc.) and within it has two portals — one for all contacts (pulled from the contacts table) that have that venue in their “company” field, and another for all performances that are listed in the event table as occurring there. So when I look at each venue, I see all the contacts associated with it, and all the performances that happen there.

However, my event table tracks rehearsals, previews and performances, which are indicated by a drop-down menu to choose which type a particular event is. Most of the time this isn’t a problem because we’re mainly doing shows, but for example at the Guthrie, we were rehearsing there for a month. If you look at the Guthrie’s venue entry, you’ll see all the rehearsals as well. There is currently no way to tell the portal “show me related records from the events table, but only the ones that have ‘Perf’ as their Type.” It seems like a really obvious feature, and one that always bugs me that it’s been missing. So for that alone I want to upgrade.

Upgrade Pricing

I have Filemaker 10. I paid $300 for it. Like six months ago. The upgrade pricing for Filemaker 11 is $179. The cost is high, but for apps like this I expect it. What makes it frustrating is that it’s $179 whether you own Filemaker 10, 9 or (for the first six months) 8. So basically there’s no incentive to upgrade to every version. Which for a large corporation is probably a good idea anyway, since changing the compatibility of your database every couple years would be a huge undertaking. But it would be nice if they threw a bone, even a small one ($20?), to people who care enough to want the extra features right away. Why are people who bought the program 5 years ago paying the same to upgrade as me who bought a version that’s only been out a year? Lame. Very lame.

Now instead of immediately hitting the “purchase” button upon the logic of “11 is better than 10” (I call this the Spinal Tap Theory of Software), I’m going to really have to look into the features to see if it’s something I will get significantly more productivity out of. And I may try to save up some Amazon gift certificates or get it for my birthday rather than buy it right away. If I didn’t need a new laptop, things would be different, but I’m being very cautious about spending any significant money until after the computer is purchased, so that I can examine how broke I am before proceeding with purchases that might become lower-priority in light of my brokeification.