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Upgrading old Filemaker solutions

February 13th, 2007 by Mark · No Comments

Q: What do we do with old Filemaker databases?

There were massive changes in the way Filemaker works between version 6 and 7 (all of them good). You’ve got a number of options, mainly determined by the size and complexity of your existing solution. The main two options are upgrade or rewrite.

To determine the best option, you need to take several factors into account – what you use the databases for, who designed them, who maintains them, how complicated they are, how many tables and their relationships, and it is helpful to know the reasons for upgrading – ie are you planning to take advantage of new Filemaker features?

New versions of Filemaker have options to automatically import old Filemaker databases and upgrade them. The process is automatic, but you need to be very careful about testing everything afterwards. Filemaker 8.5 *WILL* open Filemaker V5 files and convert them.

Sometimes it is a good idea to re-write an existing solution from the ground up, as there are often considerable archaic methods used in old Filemaker databases, and a lot of “kruft” that can be cleaned up. Once a new solution is created, one can simply import the old data. Newer versions of Filemaker (for example 8.5) support much more efficient and transparent methods for creating database solutions (for example using script parameters rather than global variables).

On the other hand, if an old solution is logically constructed, efficient and works well, then a direct upgrade can work, with a little bit of testing and tweaking of the final results. For example, after conversion you will still be left with lots of .fp7 files, which are normally best incorporated into a single .fp7 file for efficiency, practicality and safety.

The current version of Filemaker is 8.5, but version 9 is planned for late 2007, and promises to bring further functionality to an already successful database package, but I’m looking forward to more standards compliance, and more robust ODBC access.

Tags: Databases

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