[thelist] Anyone use Filemaker?

David Mccreath mccreath at ak.net
Mon Aug 6 12:25:27 CDT 2001

Hi, Chris --

From: "chris Johnston" <chris at fuzzylizard.com>

> I have a client that wants me to create some form of application 
> for him that would allow him to preview photographs from a photoshoot 
> clients and then have the client pick the ones that he/she would 
> like to buy.

Does your client want to do this in his office with his clients? Or 
does he want his clients to be able to preview and make their 
selections on the web?

> (Is there commercial software out there for this sort of thing?) 

I dunno. You'd think there would be, but I don't hang out with 
photographers much anymore. (Nothing wrong with photographers, mind 
you, I just don't have any in my current circles. ;))

> Anyway,the client currently uses Filemaker as his in office 
> database. He would also like this application to be portable to the 
> I have never used Filemaker and so would therefore like peoples 
> of it.
> What do people think of Filemaker and more specifically, how does it
> compare with MS Access? What are it's limitations and/or 
> advantages and how does it hold up to ODBC connectivity? Does it have 
any l
> imitations in terms of multiple connections and can it handle images 
> beingstored directly in the database?

<caveat type="personal experience">
Filemaker's strength is it's ease of use for non-programmer types. It 
works very well for smaller applications, even for the web. I haven't 
worked with Filemaker 5, but the built in web server in Filemaker 4 
works decently for small groups and the Filemaker web scripting 
language is a snap to learn and good for basic stuff.

If you intend to do anything of any complexity, you're going to need a 
third-party engine. Lasso and Tango are probably the two biggest ones. 
Neither is cheap, but you there are hosts out there that run Lasso, so 
all you would need is the developer version

The problems with Filemaker, especially in relation to web work, are 
finding hosting, no multiple connections, and speed. You also need to 
understand that Filemaker doesn't function like other databases. The 
architecture that makes it simple for non-programmers to use it makes 
it kinda wonky for programmers. You don't work with tables, you work 
with files. So an application that has 5 tables in an Access database 
would have 5 *files* in Filemaker. (The parallel isna't always that 
even, but you get the idea.)

Storing images directly in Filemaker is possible, but not recommended, 
especially as you get more and more pictures in there. I've never tried 
storing a local path to a picture in Filemaker, but I suppose it might 
be possible.
> Currently I am thinking of building the application directly in
> Filemaker and then simply connecting that to a website. Therefore, I
> need to be able to store images right in the database and be able to
> view the photos directly in Filemaker without having to open another
> application. Is this possible?

I would really, really try to build this as a web application from the 
get-go. There are literally dozens of photo gallery scripts out there 
in ASP and PHP. You could easily adapt any of them to a purpose like 
this, and add significant value to it for your client, and make your 
job much easier.

> Any help or opinions would be appreciated.

Well, there's mine. :)


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