Several activities and events have had me thinking a lot in recent weeks about how long things last, how long should they last?, why do some things last? how long should you keep stuff? Folks were spring cleaning, taking things to the SPCA yard sale; we were making decisions to keep things or pass them along, or trash them. Everyone is all excited about social media, trying to figure out its role in the overall scheme of things, which service will “win,” where to invest time and resources. The ongoing cycle of things coming and going really came into focus.

Well, what is popular today — be it service, software, app, or style — is either maturing and will continue to be used for a while if it evolves, or it is a fad already on its way out, with a replacement already on the rise. Social media is here to stay (for now), and that is a very good thing, but technology services and tools are ever changing. To get the most out of them, it helps if one is fluid and willing to change as well. The tools must keep up with what we want and need to do, and in turn, we must keep up with the tools and abilities they provide. (See where I’m going here?)

And FileMaker 11 is now available, released Tuesday, March 9, 2010, and here is a software line that is mature and continues to evolve. FileMaker 11, like every release of this software, includes new features for every level of user and moves forward with emerging technologies. FileMaker has become so rich with features, big and small, that it is almost like an operating system in itself. Even if you know every feature, you can’t run out of ways to use them. And of course you can save a search of #filemaker on Twitter for a daily stream of news to help you discover what’s new and new ways to use what has been there a long time.

So now … with great power comes great responsibility  🙂  For database developers and for the people using their FileMaker databases.

Yes, it is truly awesome, but also a little scary, to be able to change, delete, and add new fields in the database directly from the table view of a layout. Wow! And I know FileMaker provides the tools to help me as a developer make sure that users will be able to do that safely. And that means I should review some files to make sure they won’t have pitfalls.

Because FileMaker databases last a long time, and each version of FileMaker software is compatible for a long time, through multiple versions of OS, too. recently mentioned that a lot of people using pre-fp7 databases are ready to convert forward. Yes, there are FileMaker 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 databases still in use, doing their jobs for their people. And the people using those databases know it will be worth the investment to upgrade and update their systems.

Some old FileMaker databases will be converted and adjusted; some simply should be rebuilt. But each can keep all the valuable data that has been collected, and in a better system, too. Databases being used in more recent versions of FileMaker will be easily updated with some great new features, integrated in more ways than ever before. And a lot of users will simply start using the new FileMaker 11 features with no work at all.

Go ahead, click on the table view column heading to add leading or trailing sub-totals on the fly for your report — sums, averages, counts, deviations — without even adding a field or a formula of any kind. Oh my.

Quick Find something in all fields on the layout. It’s never been easier to find what you want in your database. Highlight some data. Add charts; you already have the data!

Me? I’m giddy. I can start grouping layouts, move custom functions from file to file, put variables in merge text on layouts, let FileMaker Server make my backup clones for me. Yes, it is very good, and that’s just a start. I’m a dedicated recycler, and FileMaker constantly improves how I can make the most of everything that comes my way for managing data:  Reduce time and costs to get the job done; Reuse data and structure; and Recycle old systems into solutions for new challenges.

Aloha FileMaker 11, I can hardly wait to see you at DevCon!