What it is: FileMaker is a database development tool owned by a subsidiary of Apple.
A long time ago, Apple owned a software subsidiary called Claris Corporation. Claris marketed software for the Macintosh including MacWrite and an integrated program called ClarisWorks. However, their most popular product was a database development tool called FileMaker.
FileMaker was designed to be a simple to use database that also allowed people to make custom programs out of databases. While Claris eventually abandoned their other products and changed their name to FileMaker after their only product, FileMaker has remained a mostly forgotten product despite its popularity among corporations.
FileMaker is not only easy to use, but also cross-platform so it runs on both Windows and OS X. Best of all, it’s also surprisingly easy to create custom programs using its database tools. Now the latest FileMaker 15 version allows you to create iOS apps as well.
The target market of FileMaker is mostly small businesses that can’t afford custom programming. So as Apple tries to sell more iPads to businesses, a tool like FileMaker can help because it allows business owners to create their own iPhone and iPad apps without going through the complexity of learning Xcode or any other dedicated programming tool for creating iOS apps.
Unlike learning Objective-C or Swift, learning FileMaker as an app development tool is much simpler and faster. So the future of FileMaker might not just be as a cross-platform database development tool any more but as a specialized database-oriented development tool for small businesses.
If you’re interested in creating iOS apps for businesses as a consultant, you could master Xcode along with Objective-C or Swift, or you could master FileMaker instead. By learning FileMaker, you can create Windows, OS X, and iOS apps faster and easier than traditional programming tools. FileMaker puts programming back in the hands of ordinary people who can’t afford a professional programmer.
Back when Apple first introduced the Macintosh, they also offered HyperCard, a simple to use development tool that many people used to create simple Macintosh programs. FileMaker could now play this same role in helping people create iOS apps.
The future is clearly mobile with iOS leading the way with the iPhone and iPad. If you want to be part of the future, learning FileMaker might be a shorter path to app creation than you might have thought possible.