FileMaker is coming out with version 7, which is going to require us to tear all our databases to pieces and build them up again from scratch. While the new FileMaker is an improvement, it's still a toy as far as "real" databases go. (The latest update just introduced relational tables, for example). Also, data lock-in is becoming a problem; I'd like to have access to all our data from non-FileMaker interfaces (to populate our LDAP directory, for example). While we can work an export from FileMaker, it would be much better if the data were available in an open, standard database instead.
I figure, so long as we're rebuilding everything from scratch for version 7, why not use a "real" RDBMS (no flames about which, please). Problem is, FileMaker does two things very well:
- Rapid development of front-end data entry screens (using a GUI for layout)
- Ability to create printable layouts for reporting (mail merges, report cards, etc)
Thus far, the only solution I've found is to use some kind of SQL access plug-in for FileMaker. This way, I get to keep the FileMaker interface but ditch its lousy relational model. Unfortunately, I'd still have to pay for FileMaker, and the SQL plug-in requires tons of extra coding to pass the data from FileMaker to SQL and back again.
I know other people have had to move from small, proprietary systems (FileMaker, Access, etc) before; what have you done to keep the simple user interface alive?"