FileMaker is a popular and powerful desktop database application toolkit. Recently, FileMaker, Inc. released a beta version of the FileMaker API for PHP, which allows PHP to more easily talk to the FileMaker Server Advanced product. Learn how to leverage FileMaker’s strengths to deliver complex Web applications in a fraction of the time it would take using a typical SQL database.

What is FileMaker?
FileMaker is a workgroup productivity toolkit designed to let knowledge workers quickly and easily construct data management systems for themselves. It is often referred to as a database—which it is—but it is more than that. In order to give you a solid understanding of how and when to use FileMaker, I am going to run through a realworld scenario.

Spreadsheet Headaches
ABC Company sells office supplies. Their catalog team is responsible for publishing product catalogs that are distributed to the sales force for generating new business. Every week or so, the catalog team receives spreadsheets of products that need to be included in upcoming catalogs. Information and images for any new products must be procured from the product manufacturer. Once all the data has been gathered, it is entered into a page layout program and printed.The catalog team finds this process very frustrating, because the spreadsheets are more often similar than not. Any given item might be going into multiple catalogs, so any changes to the item price, for example, must be made in multiple spreadsheets.

Even worse, the team members have to pass documents back and forth, making sure to keep track of who has the most recent version. It is all too easy to overwrite the wrong file, or to find different changes made to two copies of the same document. Merging these changes is a tedious manual process.

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