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FileMaker Pro™ database explanation from MEC

A defining characteristic of FileMaker Pro™ is that the database engine is integrated with the forms (screen, layouts, reports etc) used to access it. Most database systems separate these tasks, concerning themselves primarily with organization and storage of the data.

Until recently, each table of a FileMaker database system was stored as a separate file (with relational links to other files) and each file had its own built-in interface capabilities. Version 7 introduced the capability to build multiple tables into one document. Compared to other relational database management system products, it is fairly easy to develop quickly and to make changes on the fly as the data structure is altered. More complex systems may introduce some separation between interface and data files and FileMaker provides the flexibility to accommodate this.

FileMaker History

FileMaker began as a MS-DOS-based computer program named Nutshell – developed by Nashoba Systems of Concord, Massachusetts, around 1982 or 1983. Nutshell was distributed by Leading Edge, an electronics marketer that had recently started selling IBM PC-compatible computers.[1][2]
With the introduction of the Macintosh, Nashoba combined the basic data engine with a new forms-based graphical user interface (GUI). Leading Edge was not interested in newer versions, preferring to remain a DOS-only vendor, and kept the Nutshell name. Nashoba found another distributor, Forethought Inc., and introduced the program on the Macintosh platform as FileMaker. When Apple introduced the Macintosh Plus in 1986 the next version of FileMaker was named FileMaker Plus to reflect the new model’s name.
Forethought was purchased by Microsoft, which was then introducing their PowerPoint product that became part of Microsoft Office. Microsoft had introduced its own database application, Microsoft File, shortly before FileMaker, but it was outsold by FileMaker and Microsoft discontinued it. Microsoft negotiated with Nashoba for the right to publish FileMaker, but Nashoba decided to self-publish the next version, FileMaker 4.[1]
Shortly thereafter, Apple Computer formed Claris, a wholly owned subsidiary, to market software. Claris purchased Nashoba to round out its software suite. By then, Leading Edge and Nutshell had faded from the marketplace because of competition from other DOS- and later Windows-platform database products. FileMaker, however, continued to succeed on the Macintosh platform.
Claris changed the product’s name to FileMaker II to conform to its naming scheme for other products, such as MacWrite II, but the product changed little from the last Nashoba version. Several minor versions followed, and things finally settled down with the release of FileMaker Pro 1.0 in 1990.
fIn September 1992 Claris released a multiplatform version for both the Mac and Windows. Except for few platform-specific functionalities, the program’s features and user interface were the same on both platforms. Version 3.0, released around 1995, introduced new relational and scripting features.
By 1995 FileMaker was the only strong-selling product in Claris’s lineup. In 1998, Apple moved development of some of the other Claris products in-house, dropped most of the rest, and changed Claris’s name to FileMaker, Inc., to concentrate on that product.
Version 4.0, introduced in 1997 added a plug-in architecture much like that of Adobe Photoshop, which enabled third-party developers to add features to FileMaker. A bundled plug-in, the Web Companion, allowed the database to act as a web server. Other “plugs” added features to the interface and enabled FileMaker to serve as an FTP client, perform external file operations, and send messages to remote FileMaker files over the Internet or an intranet.
Version 7, released in 2004 introduced a new file format (file extension .fp7) supporting file sizes up to 8 terabytes (increased from 2 gigabytes in previous versions). Individual fields could hold up to 4 gigabytes of binary data (container fields) or 2 gigabytes of 2-byte Unicode text per record (up from 64 kilobytes in previous versions). FileMaker’s relational model was enriched, offering multiple tables per file and a graphical relationship editor that displayed and allowed manipulation of related tables in a manner that resembled the entity-relationship diagram format. Accompanying these foundational changes, FileMaker Inc. also introduced a developer certification program.
In 2005 FileMaker, Inc. announced the FileMaker 8 product family which offered the developer an expanded feature set. These included a tabbed interface, script variables, tooltips, enhanced debugging, custom menus, and the ability to copy and paste entire tables and field definitions, scripts, and script steps within and between files.
Version 8.5, released in 2006 added an integrated web-viewer (the ability to view such things as shipment-tracking information from FedEx and Wikipedia entries) and named layout-objects.
FileMaker 9 was released on July 10, 2007 This version introduced a quick start screen, conditional formatting, fluid layout auto-resizing, hyperlinked pointers into databases, and external SQL links.
FileMaker 10 was released on January 5, 2009 before the Macworld Conference & Expo. This version offers scripts to be triggered by user actions and a redesigned user interface that is similar to many applications on Mac OS X Leopard.
FileMaker 11 was released on March 9, 2010 This version offers charting.
FileMaker 12 was released on April 4, 2012 This version offers themes, all new starter solutions, streamlined charting and makes it easier to make iOS databases.
FileMaker Go 11 for iPhone and iPad was released on July 20, 2010 These versions allow only record creation, modification, and deletion. Design and schema changes need to be made using FileMaker Pro.
FileMaker Go 12 for iPhone and iPad was released on April 4, 2012 These versions allow only record creation, modification, and deletion. Design and schema changes need to be made using FileMaker Pro. This version offers support for multitasking, improved media integration, export of data to multiple formats and enhanced container-fields.
FileMaker Pro/Advanced 13 was released Dec 2013 WebDirect and HTML5 features; better mobile app development;
enhanced GUI design tools, themes and behaviors; more dynamic data refreshing, encryption at rest (EAR 256bit AES) data protection, new summary list feature, enhanced ExecuteSQL expressions, perform script on server script step, 256bit SSL client server connection
FileMaker Go 13 was released Dec 2013 Free universal client for iPhones and iPads supports iOS 6 & iOS 7. Supports barcode scanning from camera.
FileMaker Server 13 was released Dec 2013 FileMaker WebDirect, Platform Security; new HTML5 Admin Console replaced need for Java
FileMaker Pro/Advanced 14 was released May 2015 Script workspace, Button bar, Tooltips in layout mode, Launch Center
FileMaker Server 14 was released May 2015 Standby server, FileMaker Pro auto-reconnect, WebDirect support for Android
FileMaker Go 14 was released May 2015 Improved signature capture, iOS 8-style interface, Video/audio controls, Keyboard control, Rich editing
FileMaker Pro/Advanced 15 was released May 2016 In-Product Updates, Portal In-line Progress Bar, Concealed Edit Box, Script Workspace highlighting and unlimited undo
FileMaker Server 15 was released May 2016 External SQL Support extended to DB2 and PostgreSQL, SSL Certificate installation made easier, eliminated shared hosting, Licensing for Teams
FileMaker Go 15 iOS SDK, was released May 2016 Touch ID and 3D Touch, App Extensions and iBeacons
FileMaker Cloud 1.0 was released Sept 2016 FileMaker Server via Amazon Web Services (AWS) running on CentOS Linux
FileMaker Pro/Advanced 16 was released May 2017 Layout Objects window (control layers in layouts), Cards feature (better control of prompts), cURL support added for “Insert from URL” function (HTTP/S methods such as POST/GET), JSON text manipulation functions, data viewer auto calc
FileMaker Server 16 was released May 2017 REST-based FileMaker Data API, WebDirect browser support scalability up to 500 concurrent users, PDF generation on server and WebDirect, OAuth 2.0 support (Amazon, Google, Microsoft) at the Security layer
FileMaker Go 16 was released May 2017 Enhanced signature capture, geofence, plugin compatibility, animations and transitions
FileMaker Pro/Advanced 17 and Server 17 were released May 2018: Premade add-on tables to templates, sensor support (barometer, GPS etc), redesigned server admin console with dashboard, FileMaker Go push notifications
FileMaker Pro/Advanced 18 and Server 18 were released May 2019: New user interface for importing data, open specific app at launch, file-based script steps, script error logging, while calculation function, SetRecursion calculation function, new managed security access privilege, new manage security dialog box, plug-in security enhancements, default file access protection. Filemaker Server 18 Page-Level Locking enables multiple simultaneous read operations on the same file, Startup Restoration automatically restores files after a crash, FileMaker Server Admin Console enhancements, server monitoring enhancements, FileMaker Data API enhancements, FileMaker Admin API is now standard, Spanish language support. Page-level locking can be enabled or disabled only together with startup restoration.
FileMaker Pro 19 and FileMaker Server 19 (continued additions added through April 2023 versions 19.1 through 19.6.1): New options for FMP URLs; Plugin control improvements; Preview Enhancements; Get(InstalledFMPPluginsAsJSON), Security improvements; Improved Microsoft Edge WebView2 control and few other bug fixes; Shortcuts for Siri voice commands, Customizable OAuth identity provider support, new session identifier, Faster SQL queries, FileMaker_BaseTableFields, Data API improvements; Security improvements and OpenSSL upgraded to 1.1.1n, some JSON function updates and ReadQRCode function, improved Save a copy as XML, tab order works pasting layouts as expected, performance improvements, some GUI improvements; Improved Replace Field Contents, Quote function modified to handle line feeds same as carriage returns; Script transactions.