Comparative AnalysisBy Frank Ohlhorst | Print
With the release of FileMaker Pro 10, FileMaker aims to breathe new life into the relational database market by incorporating Web-centric features and improving ease of use.
When it comes to the desktop relational database management system (RDBMS) market, three names come to mind—Microsoft Office Access, Alpha Software’s Alpha5 and FileMaker. While each of those products has its niche, they are much more alike than they are different.
To compare those products it is best to look at the strengths of each to determine where they fit in the market.
Microsoft Office Access is designed to work with other Microsoft applications and presents a look and feel that is very consistent with the Microsoft Office Suite of products. Access is also complementary to other Microsoft software development tools and in many cases can be used to bridge the gap between a desktop application and Web-based applications.
Alpha Five V9’s claim to fame comes from its rapid application development (RAD) capabilities. While FileMaker and Access offer a GUI-based development environment, Alpha Five V9 goes much further when it comes to capabilities and design. What’s more, Alpha Five V9 offers the ability to create AJAX-based applications, which allow developers to move Alpha Five V9 applications over to the Web with unprecedented ease.
FileMaker Pro V10 also offers Web application capabilities but requires the purchase of File Maker Server V10 Advanced for $2,999 to accomplish that task and FileMaker’s Web application features are quite limited, when compared with Alpha Five V9. For developers looking to make the transition over to Web applications and leverage AJAX technology, Alpha Five V9 proves to be a better choice than FileMaker.
FileMaker does have several strengths over its primary competitors. For example, FileMaker Pro V10 works on both Macintosh and Windows platforms, allowing developers to create databases for mixed environments without having to do any extra work. Also, FileMaker proves to be an easier product to get started with. New users can import in Excel spreadsheets and other data sources to create "instant databases." For the most part, FileMaker’s design tools and database creation features are much easier to use than competing products. That makes FileMaker a better choice for small businesses and workgroups that need to get a database thrown together quickly.
When it comes to the RDBMS market, solution providers should not kid themselves by thinking that they will make any money on selling those products. Margins will prove to be razor thin, and there’s substantial competition from retailers and e-tailers when it comes to selling boxed RDBMS packages. Nevertheless, there’s a huge services and custom application development opportunity with RDBMS.
Contemporary RDBMS software reopens the world to affordable custom application development, where a solution provider can bill out for design, training and implementation, configuration, and security services. FileMaker Pro V10 proves to be a good product for creating all of those opportunities with a minimal investment needed.