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Summary:

Both the iPhone and the iPad versions of Filemaker Go were updated to 1.1 today. The update adds some nice features, including barcode scanning, thanks to third party integration with other apps. It’s a sign of exciting new things to come from the app for businesses.

filemaker_go

Apple subsidiary Filemaker found a warm reception for their mobile product Filemaker Go, which reached #3 on the top grossing list for business apps and is still sitting at #6 today. Both the iPhone and the iPad versions of Filemaker Go were updated to version 1.1 today. The update adds some nice features, including barcode scanning, which business users should be very excited about.

New Features

The update includes following features:

  • Insert a photo into a container field
  • Save or Send Database
  • Save or Send PDF
  • Import from Filemaker Database
  • Integration with third party iOS apps

The photo feature lets you add images from the camera roll or take a new picture and insert it into a record. Save and Send allows for saving a copy of the database, and sharing by email. Filemaker Go can generate PDF reports from any view, and the import step allows mobile databases to update their content from existing Filemaker databases residing elsewhere over a network connection.

Barcode Scanning

While these updates are certainly welcome, the integration with third party iOS apps through the URL protocol handler is much more interesting. The first product announced that will work with this feature is CNS Barcode, which lets you include barcodes in databases.

A script step calls CNS Barcode using the URL protocol for that app. Once the barcode is captured via the camera and converted into a string, CNS Barcode passes that result back to Filemaker Go. Thanks to the magic of multitasking in iOS 4, Filemaker Go then continues the script where it left off. The potential for inventory and retail applications is apparent.

Possibilities

This kind of integration is available to any iOS app. Developers can extend Filemaker Go with bespoke apps that can perform a particular task and then insert the result into a database. For example, it would be possible to write an app that connects to a web service to get current information on pricing, inventory levels, etc. from an enterprise system and add those results to the database. Or a developer could create apps to talk to specialty hardware accessories through the dock connector, but return the results to Filemaker Go where they can be stored for later analysis or used to generate PDF reports on the go.

I think this will be particularly interesting to enterprise customers that want to tap into existing data sources because they should be able to focus on building just the bridge app that connects to their system and then leverage the existing features of Filemaker Go to store the results, search records, generate PDF reports that can be emailed, and so on.

We’re used to this sort of integration on the desktop, but seeing it work on an iPhone is surprising. It feels new again and shows me that the future of iOS apps is really limitless. I’m sure I’ve only just scratched the surface of possible future uses.

What about you? What apps would you like to integrate with Filemaker Go? How would you use this feature in your organization to tap into other data sources?

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  1. At the end of your 4th paragraph, you write: “Thanks to the magic of multitasking in iOS 4, Filemaker Go then continues the script where it left off.”

    This is technically incorrect. When FileMaker Go hibernates to allow another app do its thing, the running script is halted, and does not resume from where it left off when returning to Go. The protocol allows the helper app to call a specific FileMaker script (from the beginning), and to pass variables and a parameter to that script. (The helper app can be told what script to call with information from the first URL.) Though the original FileMaker script can’t be resumed from the beginning, thoughtful developers can certainly make the experience a mostly invisible process.

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