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FileMaker Pro: 13 going on 30

December 03, 2013 9:00 AM EST

FileMaker 13, which debuts today, represents a milestone in more ways than one. In April the database program will celebrate its 29th birthday. It’s mind boggling to think that this popular database has been around since 1985. And although Apple owns the product today, FileMaker originally only ran on MS-DOS. Even today, most customers use it on Windows, not the Mac.



FileMaker’s origins actually go back even further than 1985. The original version of the program was called Nutshell, an MS-DOS database application developed by Nashoba Systems Inc. and distributed by PC clone maker Leading Edge Hardware in the early 1980s. I got my start as a support tech at Leading Edge, where one of my tasks was to troubleshoot corrupt Nutshell databases. I still have a working Leading Edge Model D, which came with Nutshell and Leading Edge Word Processor software on 5 ¼-inch floppies. At the time, Nutshell had a no-nonsense text-based interface that I ran on a green-screen monitor.



By the time Apple bought Nashoba Systems, however, the FileMaker user interface looked like this:







In version 13, FileMaker has worked to optimize the user experience when accessing the database from a Web browser. FileMaker now offers WebDirect, a feature that uses HTML 5 and JavaScript to deliver what the vendor says will be a desktop-like experience for users accessing the FileMaker Server database engine from a browser. One cool feature: You can configure the content on the display to change when an iPad user switches between portrait and landscape orientation.

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