8 Replies Latest reply on Dec 3, 2009 10:41 AM by RickWhitelaw

    FM on trial - not too impressed so far... searching for solutions for the real world

    timwatt

      Title

      FM on trial - not too impressed so far... searching for solutions for the real world

      Post

      Hello to anyone reading this...

       

      I've started a trial of FileMaker, hoping to better manage a range of projects, and as stated, although I see a lot of potential and the interface seems great, I'm finding it hard to see I can properly evaluate Filemaker as the solutions provided seem rather half-baked.

       

      My needs, as a small business, are pretty standard. A decent CRM solution for instance. There's bits of one as starter solutions but the Contacts one would surely need to tie in with an Opportunities one and Projects etc. These starter solutions don't tie-together at all in any intelligent way. A previous forum poster asked a similar question and was told this would take some work and wasn't provided with any assistance. Plus, those I've found through searching the Filemaker site appear amateurish and over-priced (Ugly interfaces, clearly not following grown up UI guidelines suggest these aren't worth trying).

        

      Why, when there's popular products like Salesforce.com and Highrise out there, isn't there a solution provided by Filemaker? I'd prefer a directly accessible database than one in the cloud. Can I just have one that works?

       

      Are Filemaker compromised in supporting their own product? Lack of CRM seems a big omission (I'd have thought supporting a developer community would be important but of secondary importance to selling the product). 

       

      But, as I said, these developers haven't appeared to have produced a competitive CRM product to date - or are my early impressions wrong?

       

      Tim 

        • 1. Re: FM on trial - not too impressed so far... searching for solutions for the real world
          HugoLidia
            

          I've read around the advantages and disadvantages of FMP v10 and one article discribed it well, in my opinion, that FMP is probably the best tool for setting up a database if ones requirements are fairly simple.  This I think is bourne out by what you say that all the sample databases I've seen are actually based on one or at most three tables and therefore is not a complicated relational database.  However, reading press articles FMP is clearly capable of being used for more robust databases and is being used by some big companies, but one wonders how much "fudging" they have had to employ to acheive their desired results.  The same article did then go one to say that in their opinion, because one cannot get down to alter the base code, companies would be better to stick with products like Delphi - they just have a steeper learning curve for novices like me.  Time will tell if I can get FMP to do what we want. 

          • 2. Re: FM on trial - not too impressed so far... searching for solutions for the real world
            comment_1
              

            You're partly right, partly very wrong:

            1. Filemaker, Inc. supplies the tool - how it's used is up to the developer. The solutions that come with the application are just simple examples, and not very good ones at that.

            2. Most FM solutions, I think, are custom-made for a specific purpose. You'll never get a CRM solution as good as a standard CRM application. That's not the purpose here; if you can get by using a standard application, go for it. Filemaker is for those that need something else (which would not be economically feasible to develop as an application).

            3. Filemaker is very easy to use (relatively speaking). This means just about anyone can become a "developer" and you'll see a great variety in the quality of their solutions. Good solutions are not easy to find - certainly not for free.

             

             

            That said, I'd suggest you look at Business Tracker and FM Starting Point. However, be warned that if you're only beginning with Filemaker, it won't be easy for you to understand how they work under the hood.



            • 3. Re: FM on trial - not too impressed so far... searching for solutions for the real world
              comment_1
                

              HugoLidia wrote:

              one wonders how much "fudging" they have had to employ to acheive their desired results.


              Not "fudging", but learning. And the answer is: a lot.


              • 4. Re: FM on trial - not too impressed so far... searching for solutions for the real world
                timwatt
                  

                Thanks for your reply, that I thinking is helpful but (I think) also partly wrong.

                 

                Down the line, I think I would need to evolve or develop a CRM solution suited to my needs, plus other databases so organise things.

                 

                So thanks for the FM Starting Point suggestion, which as it says, is a starting point. An obvious one that should be provided by Filemaker I suspect.

                 

                Business Tracker is being downloaded, although the crude design appears to suggest lack of usability. I've since seen nicer examples, however, nothing approaching Highrise.

                 

                My aspirations are pretty straightforward for now but I do have some experience with CRM. My requirements are universal. Something of realistic value, good usability and capabilities, with less of the arms length of the web with Highrise would be a start. 

                 

                Keep the suggestions coming 

                • 5. Re: FM on trial - not too impressed so far... searching for solutions for the real world
                  davidanders
                    

                  www.fmstartingpoint.com  is a good example of a good implementation - the logic and conventions used require a middling amount of Filemaker knowledge.

                   

                  There are many sites with sorta good examples.

                  The world of Harry Glos threads on FileMakerToday are worth reading

                  http://filemakertoday.com/com/forumdisplay.php?f=43 

                   

                  www.fmwebschool.com is useful 

                   

                  Grab Microsoft Access and find databases that are better than the free examples on Filemaker sites. I think you will find the same frustration. 

                  Database design melds graphic design (color schemes are often horrible), interface design (what does this button do?) and database logic design. It is uncommon to find such a wide range of skills in one person. 

                   

                  Do your contacts / clients / people have a Mr Mrs Ms, have a first name, have a middle initial, do they use an initial in their first name, do they use the full middle name, do they have a Jr, Sr, III, do they have a MD, PHD, DDS

                  Is their partner's last name the same, and all of the above.

                  Do they have one email  address? Three?

                  Do they have an address, shipping address, vacation address?

                  Does their address have one or two address lines? PO box? Building number? US Address and or foreign address?

                  Etc, etc. 

                  • 6. Re: FM on trial - not too impressed so far... searching for solutions for the real world
                    comment_1
                      

                    I don't see that you disagree with me that much. The bottom line, I think, is this: if your requirements are universal, go with a standard CRM application; if you need customization, prepare to spend the time (or the money) required for this.

                     

                    Also, graphic design does not necessarily indicate quality (both ways). Not many Filemaker solutions are made by teams of programmers and graphic designers - again, such is the nature of the tool. And to be fair, it is difficult to come up with a decent design with what Filemaker provides.

                     

                     


                    Tim Watt wrote:
                    a starting point. An obvious one that should be provided by Filemaker I suspect.

                    I'd rather have FMI concentrate on what they should be doing - there is enough there to keep them busy for a long time. BTW, when you buy a movie camera, I don't think you get a copy of "The Matrix" as an example of what can be done with it.

                    • 7. Re: FM on trial - not too impressed so far... searching for solutions for the real world
                      bumper
                        

                      I suspect that most FM developers would acknowledge that the sample files that come with FMP are a tad weak, however, I believe that they were designed to show the breadth of what FMP can do and don't purport to be ALL that it can do in a single solution. That said the Email Campaign Management one is pretty good out the box for showing FMP's scope. 

                       

                      You might want to watch this webex video at:

                       

                      https://filemakerevents.webex.com/ec0605l/eventcenter/recording/recordAction.do?siteurl=filemakerevents&theAction=poprecord&ecFlag=true&recordID=33916922 

                       

                      It is given by the developer of Starting Points and also has links to other freebies. 

                      • 8. Re: FM on trial - not too impressed so far... searching for solutions for the real world
                        RickWhitelaw
                          

                        Hi,

                         

                        I don't develop for a living, but to make my life easier. I've created a solution for my business that's quite robust and complex (seven files, perhaps 240 tables in all) so I can speak from experience that Filemaker IS well suited to complex solutions. The Starter Solutions provided are really mini-lessons . . . each one describing what would likely end up as only one aspect of a large solution. If a person needs a standard CRM solution and one exists, then he/she should probably just buy it. However, the main advantage of creating a customized solution is that, as your business' needs change, your solution can change to accommodate them without pleading for feature sets in someone else's next update. You can just do it yourself. Another point: since I'm not concerned with selling my software I'm not unduly preoccupied with GUI issues. My interface is fine and not unattractive, but it is, after all, the icing on the cake of what's under the hood (badly mixed metaphors). This is a personal choice or preference. I feel the same way about most software. If one piece of software does what it's meant to do and quickly, but looks average, I'll use it over a good looking piece of software  with average performance. That said, there DO seem to be a lot of limits to graphic design in FM. Some of these, such as the mediocre Custom Dialog look, can be worked around or changed via a plugin, but I have to agree that a lot of FM Solutions have a certain look that's less than elegant. I believe it was Comment who pointed out that very few database designers are also graphic designers, so it may come down to a matter of "where do I want to spend energy". The GUI element, for many developers, never makes it to the top of the list.

                         

                        My 2 cents . . . .