FileMaker Pro 5

Click a few buttons, choose which layout you want to display, and your database will appear on the Web with font, field and label formats; radio buttons; and drop-down lists all preserved from the original layout. I looked at a late beta version of the product.

At present, however, only visitors using Internet Explorer can see your database-enhanced pages. FileMaker expects Netscape 5 will soon support the necessary standards, too. An alternative file format lets you share the database information with people using other browsers, but the layout appears as a stock list, not as a copy of the original.

Version 5 finally gets Excel imports right. It converts column headings to field labels, matches field types to cell formats, and creates some basic layouts so you can use the converted file at once. Other new features include pop-up data-entry lists based on the contents of a field in another file; the ability to synchronise office, home and laptop copies of the same database; and a built-in ODBC (Open DataBase Connectivity) driver.

FileMaker 5's changes continue to increase its ease of use. But FileMaker 4 users may find the $249 upgrade price too steep: the new version still lacks items such as data-entry masks and data validation during imports.

FileMaker Pro 5

Price: $399, upgrade $249


Phone: 1800 028 316


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