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FileMaker has long been a leader when it comes to making small-scale relational databases easy to develop, use, and deploy. FileMaker Pro 7 builds further on this already strong foundation with improved capabilities for managing relationships, more sophisticated user-access controls, and other subtle improvements.

Compared with Microsoft Access, FileMaker retains a distinctive edge in usability. Granted, Access has the advantage when it comes to implementing larger-scale applications that have heftier programmatic needs. But Version 7 extends FileMaker’s appeal farther into the midrange database space.

Previous versions supported relationships between tables, but they seemed like an afterthought grafted onto a predominantly flat-file view of the database world (where each table was stored in its own file, and establishing relationships meant linking between separate files). FileMaker has revised its data storage so that a single file now encapsulates a full set of database tables and the relationships between them. If you open a database created in an earlier version, the program prompts you to make a backup of the original and migrates the database to the new format.

The improved relationship support is especially evident in a slick new relationship editor that lets you visually create and manage links between fields in multiple tables. When you’re creating on-screen forms and report layouts, you now have access to fields related by any number of links from a given table, instead of just one.

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