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I am in the process of trying to figure out what software program I need to develop a program for sell. I've finally narrowed it down to two different ones; Access and FileMaker. Can someone please give me the pros and cons of each.


Any help will be greatly appreciated!


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Access and Filemaker are different enough that you do have to change some of your thinking, and use different techniques.




Of course Access is not available for the Macintosh except through Windows emulation software.So for cross-platform development I would recommend a product like Filemaker, which operates just as well on Windows-based platforms as on the Mac.


Web-database development


Filemaker is definitely easier to get a basic web database set-up. However, Access uses some other technologies such as ASP to a greater extent. By the time you start making complex web databases where Access becomes a better choice than Filemaker, Access itself is outclassed by SQL

Server and other industrial-strength databases.

This may change with the better Data Access Pages in Access 2002, but I doubt it.


In terms of bandwidth usage over a network, Filemaker is nice and lean, whereas Access is not ... (other Access developers know what I am talking about)


Relational design, ODBC and SQL


From a very early stage Access incorporated Relational design, two-way ODBC

connectivity and Structured Query Language statements in Queries. Access makes a great front-end client to other databases such as SQL Server.

On the other hand, Filemaker has added these features in the last few years.

In these areas Filemaker may never catch-up


Table/Form/Report/Layout design


The two products have different strengths and weaknesses. However, my impression is that Filemaker is a much more elegant database product, with a lot of sensible features. Microsoft could learn a lot from Filemaker.


The only areas in which Access seems to have a better design is with table linking and developing relationships. Filemaker would probably be quicker to develop an application that had only a couple of main tables.


Macros/Scripting/Visual Basic


Filemaker scripts seem to fall between Access Macros and VBA (Visual Basic

for Applications) in terms of power.


The Filemaker scripts are really easy to set-up - easier than Access macros.

However, they still fall short of a full programming language such as VBA.


Ease for novice


Databases always require a higher learning curve than word processors or


In terms of ease of use, in my mind I would use the following order:


- Filemaker

- Access

- FoxPro, Paradox

- SQL Server

- Oracle


At the top of this list the databases are easy to use. At the bottom the databases are powerful.




Here I believe Access has a slight edge for an Access expert. There is a developer edition of Office that features integration via programming, OLE,ADO and ODBC and other technologies with other Office products - Word,Excel, Outlook, FrontPage. If you do not already have Access installed (preferably the same version as you have) you can distribute run-time versions of Access. But the new version of FM Developer is really fantastic and easy in use.


Why Access ?



Access is ubiquitous (what a word !!) as it is sold by Microsoft in the Professional version of their Office suite. I can buy Access at just about

any computer shop.


One thing to bear in mind:

It has taken you years to get to your level of expertise with FMP and it would take you just as long (if not longer) to attain a similar level of expertise in Access or visa versa. Your will be making the most use of your talents and skills if you developed the database in Filemaker (unless it uses ODBC).


This is a opinion that I deal with Gregory Scott.


Hope this helps. Feel free to ask if you have more questions.



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Filemaker have a white paper on this.




under white papers, click the link for the Filemaker Advantage for workgroups.

Also the following at the end of the white paper section


Comparing and Contrasting Database Software Tools: FileMaker 5.5 and Microsoft Access 2002 (PDF)

(This is an introduction to the following white paper.)


FileMaker vs. Access: A developer’s comparison (PDF)

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