Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book for beginner, intermediate & advanced FileMaker developers, 24 Jun. 2008
This review is from: FileMaker Pro 9 Bible (Paperback)
As an advanced developer, I initially wondered how much I would benefit from this 735 page tome, but was pleasantly surprised; I would even go further and say that I was astounded! There is just so much information here that I still find I'm able to learn something new almost every time that I pick it up.

No familiarity with FileMaker is assumed, although a basic acquaintance would be helpful and you probably wouldn't be reading this book if you hadn't already dabbled with FileMaker at least a little bit. The main sections of this book are as follows: The Fundamentals, Introduction to Database Design, Beyond the Basics, Integrity and Security and finally, Raising the Bar. Each section includes chapters covering pretty much everything you would ever want to know... and then some!

Unlike some other books that I've read about FileMaker, this one is not a repetition of the FileMaker Help file; it does not list every function and script step in alphabetical order, explaining what each one does. Rather it takes those very features and demonstrates ways of using them to help improve your development skills. Furthermore, the author's insights into the way that FMP functions `under the hood' actually appear throughout the book as tips, further enhancing your own knowledge. These demonstrations and tips put you, the developer, in a far better position to then know how best to design and develop your own solutions.

The chapters are well organised, but I'm not keen on some of the arrangements used within chapters; they sometimes seems to wander off on a tangent or two before getting to the point. However, to be fair, FileMaker is a complex beast and as we all know, there are more often than not, twenty seven different ways to address a single challenge. Therefore, praise where praise is due, this book shows you the many different ways to approach any challenge and should arm you with the knowledge to choose which method is the best one.

Worth almost more than the book itself, are the many sophisticated demonstration files that the author refers to throughout the book. These files demonstrate and improve upon the techniques in the book and greatly enhance your ability to understand the concept being presented. Your immediate reaction when downloading many of these files will probably be, "I didn't know you could do that in FileMaker!" and then you'll spend hours ignoring your wife and kids learning exactly how it works and replicating it in your own solution.

The only chapter I felt could have been improved was the one about Custom Functions, a much undervalued feature of our chosen development platform. If you don't already know, FileMaker Pro Advanced is required to create and edit custom functions, although once created they can then be used in FileMaker Pro as well. The author explains what custom functions do, how they work and provides several basic examples, but the examples are of little use in every day database development. Some samples of more useful custom functions would have been beneficial and will hopefully be included in a future edition. No need to wait however, since there is a excellent source of useful custom functions at Brian Dunning's website.

There is a wise saying, "Give a man a fish and you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime". This book is not a fish, it teaches you how to fish, or in FileMaker terms, how to become a knowledgeable and self-sufficient developer. My minor quibbles aside; I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
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