Considering Filemaker - some Q's.
I am not currently using Filemaker but after doing a little research, it looks like the new V10 offers some intriguing possibilities. I'm not sure if this is the right place to post these questions, but I'm hoping someone will re-direct me, if necessary.
We are in the process of trying to select a couple of different development systems to move our Visual Foxpro applications over to. Some of our applications have been distributed for as many as 24 years, so we have a quite a history with our clients. During the last couple of years, I've started using a Mac and love the OS, but right now, my apps are strictly windows. Trying to stay a little a head of the curve, this looks like a good time to go cross-platform, so this has been set as one of my priorities for at least one of our development choices.
We are not only looking short-term, but long-term as software solutions will certainly turn into web apps in the future. We therefore want to ensure that our learning efforts now will not be wasted in the future.
I might also add that a Microsoft solution is not currently on my list because of the poor way they handled the demise of Visual Foxpro, a development system that still seems viable for the next 5-10 years, but is certainly dead-ended. We, of course, have to maintain what we have, but any new development means re-writing sometime in the future - which is not a prudent option.
On to the questions.
Q1. I'm not looking at Filemaker to satisfy all my needs, but perhaps in time, it might be able to. My background is accounting and most of the applications, sorry, solutions that I develop are for the accounting profession. As such, they need to be updated on a regular basis. My solutions would be electronically distributed and would have to be turnkey solutions. I've read about separating the data from the UI and this would probably be a requirement for my solutions. Can someone explain how to do this in general terms. The specifics can wait till later. As a follow-up, what types of solutions is FM most suitable for?
Q2. Most of my solutions are multi-tenant, meaning that I sell to an accountant who uses my solution to process many clients. Consequently, each of his client's data needs to be separated into it's own database. This is necessary for a number of reasons, portability being the most important one. Accountants typically worked on client data in the office and at the client site on their laptops. Is this feasible in FM.
Q3. It is not uncommon for our file structures to change at least on an annual basis. We add new fields and remove those that have become obsolete. Is it possible to make these file structure changes in code as opposed to having to manually change the database?
Q4. It appears that there is a wealth of support for FM. I've already found some podcasts, multiple forums, and lots of plugins. We are all experience programmers, but all self-trained. As my experience has grown, I've noticed something about developing solutions in VFP. Even though we've written our own framework to handle many of the features that need to be included in every solution, it still takes a great deal of time from "idea" to "solution". I"m really interested in finding something that cuts the development time down. FM seems to be that way. I'm willing to sacrifice a little control over the UI to get the solution completed in less time. In terms of learning FM, would it be advisable to attend some onsite training sessions or can we rely on the online community support to get up to speed? What about DevCon? Is it a worthwhile experience?
Q5. What do you think the future will hold regarding using FM as a development tool for web based solutions? Is it possible now or is there still some work to be done.
I think that's it for now. I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and look forward to some thoughtful responses.