Until yesterday, FileMaker Go, the iOS data app client from wholly-owned subsidiary, FileMaker, Inc., cost $40 bucks a seat ($20 bucks for iPhone users). This was always a little sticking point for small and even more so, for larger  organizations.

Today, FileMaker Go for iPad and iPhone is free.

What this means is that for a paltry $299 (the cost of FileMaker Pro for the desktop), anyone can build mobile database apps and without any significant training or app-building expertise.

Alternatives to paying hefty licensing fees for mobile clients included  developing your own database app clients in XCode or signing up for a forms solution such as iForm Builder. Today’s announcement, which includes some very nice enhancements across the FileMaker product line, lift FileMaker Go as a viable and compelling alternative for businesses that need mobile apps.

While $40 a seat isn’t that expensive for a two person company, this pricing model may have made FileMaker Go less attractive  as a viable alternative in situations where app deployment needed to scale.  This announcement changes the dynamics significantly enough to cause businesses to reconsider their app strategies.

And what’s not to like about the rest of the FileMaker Suite of business tools. FileMaker Pro runs on Mac and Windows desktops, includes a proven database engine (FileMaker Server) upgraded to 64 bit architectures and has been around since the dawn of personal computing. This is a highly reliable and well-tested suite of tools that can bring your mobile strategy into sharp focus at relatively low cost and quickly.

Having the privilege of using FileMaker 12 for the last few weeks, I designed and built a vehicle maintenance app for a client in about 6 hours – from nothing to testing to deployment – in just a half day. This sort of mobile app development productivity is a significant step forward for businesses who are drooling about mobile possibilities.

At no additional cost, my client can deploy this app across her fleet of drivers without provisioning the app and paying license fees for each device. And she can even send app updates directly through email, or share them through DropBox. There’s no convoluted app store upload and approval processes required for FileMaker Go apps. The same database app developed on the desktop simply runs on the Go clients. No conversions; no changes; no limitations.

FileMaker Go (for FREE) isn’t a game-changer, but it will have a profound impact on the app development topology for businesses of all types and sizes.

Now, even the simplest app ideas can be explored, tested, and deployed without friction.

Now that the deployment floodgates are open for mobilizing FileMaker apps, we can look forward to accelerated innovation in business mobility. Once you purchase the FileMaker suite, your mobile app experiments can flourish. More failures can occur, and of course, the likelihood of successful apps will also increase.

Streaming [Database] Media

How often have you wanted to stream video and other types of rich media but you instinctively understood that a different type of server was required. The FileMaker 12 product line helps teams and individuals manage the growing tsunami of digital content — especially multimedia files.

Enhanced container fields in FileMaker Pro 12 support drag-and-drop to store, many file types such as PDFs, video, photos, audio, and documents. Files can be stored in the database or linked. Managing linked files just got easier as FileMaker 12 now automatically organizes files on disk and can even encrypt them for extra security.

FileMaker 12 automatically generates media thumbnails, and, when using FileMaker Server, will stream media files to connected clients. When running on the iPad or iPhone users can now record video and audio directly into container fields, and can stream them out content using AirPlay.

Themed Mobility

FileMaker has always provided excellent templates – business application examples that allow you to get a running start if you’re new to the platform. FileMaker 12 brings key resources to help you create seriously compelling design themes for both desktop and mobile experiences. With more than 40 new design patterns and many with touch-optimized interfaces, the toughest part of of using this product involves deciding which of the themes you like best. Tough life for mobile database developers indeed.

According to IT and facility manager James Pierson, Rampart Hydro Services,

“The use of FileMaker Go 12 enables us to get timely and consistent data from the field eliminating the hodgepodge of spreadsheets, hard-copy forms, and the odd flap torn off an old cardboard box. I love the idea of FileMaker Go specific script steps, making it easier to take advantage of the growing capabilities of iOS.”

Go-specific Script Steps

FileMaker product designers have recognized a key requirement for mobile development; the ability to run scripts contingent upon the device executing the code. As I mentioned in an earlier article about FileMaker’s run-time architecture, the run-time capabilities are what make this product instinctively agile and suited for deployment multiple form-factors.

Go-specific script steps eliminate the need to test for the device environment and conditionally block certain code from executing. This is a huge benefit to developers as they can magically create apps that perform in context to the device. This leaves them more time to focus on business requirements.

It’s the Architecture

In case it isn’t obvious, I’m pro-FileMaker not because of the outcome possibilities for mobile apps, but because of the architecture.

I was in the PC database industry back in the early eighties when run-time architectures were prevalent. In the 90’s executable [native] code was the cool thing database vendors strived for. Today, with expanding mobile platforms, businesses need development advantages that translate directly into competitive advantage. FileMaker delivers on this requirement through its carefully planned multi-platform design.

FileMaker Pro with Go provides business people with clear advantages that are not likely matched by any other $300 investment. Pull the trigger on this one – you won’t regret it.