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Database Options: How Does FileMaker Compare to Microsoft Access

written by: Indu Priya•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/20/2008

These database applications are actually quite different. We explain why.

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    The first version of FileMaker came out as FileMaker, v1.0 in 1985 and was published by Forethought Inc. It then underwent many feature changes and came out in different versions. The present version of FileMaker is 9.0 published by FileMaker, Inc.

    Microsoft Access is relational database management system that combines the relational Microsoft Jet Database Engine with software development tools and a graphical user interface. The first version of Access (Access 1.0) was released in 1992. The latest version of Access is available as Microsoft Office Access 2007.

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    Operating Systems: Microsoft Access is a Microsoft Windows product. It operates on Windows operating systems only whereas FileMaker can be used by Macintosh computers as well as Windows and Linux-based platforms. FileMaker is a suite of products: FileMaker Server, FileMaker Unlimited, FileMaker Mobile, and FileMaker Pro.

    Application Size: The application size of Access is 160 megabytes, and the application size of FileMaker is 26 MB.

    Limitation on number of objects in a file: Microsoft Access has a limitation on the number of objects in a file whereas when using FileMaker, you can put as many objects in a file as you want. It does not have a limitation.

    Storage Capacity: In Access, the data file size that is applicable (*.mdb) cannot be more than 2 gigabytes. This is the maximum storage capability per database. The number of objects per database is 32,768. FileMaker also has a storage capability of 2 gigabytes, but it does not have a limitation of objects.

    Search Criteria: In FileMaker, the users can input search criteria in global, then take or use these global results to perform the actual find. The find process in Access is similar to that in FileMaker.

    In Access, you use querie to perform operations on data in your tables. With these queries, you are able to display records that match certain criteria, sort the data out, or even combine data from different tables. Query is a visual user interface for building SQL statements. Queries in Access are SQL based against the open database.

    Character Length: In Access, the number of characters in a given field name is 64. The number of characters in a record are 2000 excluding Memo and OLE Objects fields. The number of fields per table is 255. The table size should not exceed 1 GB; the file size limit is 2 GB whereas in FileMaker, these characters numbers are unlimited. Your data is in the form of lists; hence, you find it in list mode. The number of characters per name is 60. The number per table field is unlimited. FileMaker does not have tables; one FileMaker file is one table. It does not make or have Table distinctions. You always work with or within the table's layout.

    Layout: In FileMaker, a layout is an integral part of the file as there are no forms in FileMaker. Control in the file interface is limited. You can only have more power for this by downloading plug-ins. FileMaker has value lists. Columns you show are numerous. In Microsoft Access, a form opens separately from the database in a new window. Access allows more built-in control over the interface in a file. It has values which are listed as functions, tables, queries, or hard coded values. It offers built-in charting in reports.

    Programming Interface: The programming interface in Access is Visual Basic Editor while in FileMaker, the interface is FileMaker Developer 5.5 Edition. Coding in FileMaker is centralized while in Access it is not.

    Referential integrity : Referential integrity or file security is not strictly adhered to in FileMaker but in Access it is strictly implemented.

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    All in all, the FileMaker built-in tools and functionality are more limited than what you would find in Access. However, Access makes it completely necessary to learn more about theories of database design than FileMaker does. But to its credit, FileMaker makes the growth of your workgroup less costly than Microsoft Access.

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