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In-Depth: FileMaker Go and iPad scores big for AEC Industry

In this feature In-Depth article Architosh talks to FileMaker executives and a key FileMaker developer for Johnson Controls about why the new FileMaker Go 1.2 is a great tool for AEC professionals and how FileMaker offers iOS development a wonderful alternative to working with Objective-C

A few weeks ago Apple subsidiary, FileMaker, Inc., called to ask if they could show us their latest database software applications. Now we have been covering this company’s award-winning workgroup database software for years but this was the first time they called with this kind of enthusiasm. So what was all the excitement about?

The iPad of course!

Well…not precisely Apple’s popular tablet computer but the way in which developers and businesses are discovering that FileMaker’s database software tools offer them amazing ways to utilize the iPad (and the iPhone too) within industries with field-based services–particularly Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC).

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FileMaker Number One in World

While many people know of database software companies like Oracle what few people realize is that Apple’s database software subsidiary, FileMaker, is a worldwide leader. FileMaker is the number one database software on the Mac OS X platform, the number one cross-platform (Mac/Windows) database software, and the number one database software on tablet computers worldwide. It is also the number two database software worldwide on the Windows platform, behind Microsoft’s own Access. The company actually sells more copies of FileMaker Pro on the Windows platform.

From this combined perspective FileMaker is number one in the world.

It has long been the case that FileMaker Pro has been a popular workgroup database tool within the AEC industry, particularly popular with architectural practices because the database tool offers programming simplicity, graphical presentation flexibility and excellence, and works seamlessly with both Windows and Mac computers.

(Architosh conducted an AEC industry software use report in 2002 and found that FileMaker Pro was the dominant database used by all AEC firms in the study with 20 or more employees, capturing nearly 70 percent usage. All firms over 20 employees in the study used a database application. Click here to learn more.)

A Sweet Spot for AEC

While FileMaker is used by most AEC firms, the big news these days is that the company’s FileMaker Go, an Apple iOS application running on both iPad and iPhone, plays a unique story for mobile application development. And with the iPad device being heavily adopted by AEC professionals–particularly on the construction and facilities side–the merger of iPad and FileMaker and FileMaker Go is hitting a sweet spot for these field-based industries.

01 - FileMaker Go offers simple iOS development as an option, enabling rapid application development for mobile solutions on Apple's iPad and iPhone platforms. The quality of the interface capability is very high, as can be seen here.

Both architects and engineers are bringing iPads onto the construction site to tote their drawings and 3D models around with them. Contractors are using the iPad as a drawings and specifications storage device, as well as using it for field-conditions tracking and document markup. And now from the suppliers side of the equation AEC manufacturers are using iPads armed with mobile databases to solve particular data-heavy workflow needs in the field, better servicing the design-building delivery cycle.

Next page: Case Study – Looking at AEC Manufacturer Johnson Controls

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