Book Review - Learn FileMaker Pro 6

Reviewed by Pierre Lessard

Author(s): Jonathan Stars, Nonie Bernard

Publisher: Wordware


Audience: Beginner to Intermediate

If you are new to FileMaker Pro 6.0 this book is worth its weight in gold! Why? As an advanced developer with a decade of development under my belt I reviewed this material and kept saying to myself "if only I had worked through the exercises in this book. Oh the time and frustration I would have saved!" The authors waste no time, provide an index of nearly 2,500 listings and even include an area in the index called "Problems" listing more than 70 areas for potential troubleshooting.

An incredible mix of experience and enthusiasm brought forth by authors Jonathan Stars and Nonie Bernard make this book a must have for those that want to reach an intermediate level of competency in record time. An award winning Las Vegas singer, songwriter, and comedian Jonathan began using FileMaker in 1986 to keep track of his entertainment business. His love affair with FileMaker has brought him success and recognition as a premier developer and he makes every effort to condense twenty-five years of incredible development and learning experiences into this book. Jonathan wisely partnered with Nonie Bernard for this project. She has an outstanding ability to develop curricula and programs in higher education and is also the Director of Curriculum Development for FMPTraining, and an instructor with the Maricopa Community Colleges as well as a consultant with Waves in Motion. Her expertise and influence quickly shines through in a beautifully laid out publication that is more like going to a top notch two week personal training session than it is reading a book. You can learn more about the authors in the early sections of the book.

You have probably already gathered that this is meant to be a hands-on book. It takes you through a group of exercises that demonstrate the features built into FileMaker 6.0. It is conveniently divided into seven parts. It will take you from first launching FileMakerPro, to leaving this training as a confident user with solid intermediate knowledge. Are you excited yet? You are even provided with a CD containing files so that you are not forced to do the early exercises if your skills are slightly more advanced.

Your learning experience is broken into seven parts:

* Learning the Basics
* Using FileMaker Pro
* Turning Your Data into Information
* Creating a Real Solution
* Sharing Your Database
* Protecting Your Information
* Beyond FileMaker

Each of the seven parts contains several relevant chapters that cover a wealth of information that I could not begin to re-iterate in this review. It is skillfully presented in plain English and is peppered with very helpful tips and tricks that took me ten years to learn! It is no wonder that Nonie Bernardès students have rated her in the top 10% of all their instructors and that Jonathan Stars is such a well-respected contributor to FileMaker Pro Advisor Magazine. They really know how to present material in an enjoyable and easy to follow format.

Every Chapter contains the following:

* Clearly stated reference to any new vocabulary that is introduced
* Clearly stated Objectives for the chapter
* An introduction
* A question and answer session to help you remember what you learned

This wonderful book taught me some new tricks and reminded me of so many of the golden rules that most experienced developers have learned the hard way. Here are a few excerpts from the obvious to the not so obvious.

"Whenever you get ready to experiment with a layout youève worked hard to create, make a copy first." Even I break that golden rule occasionally. It always leads to sincere regrets.

Falling into the not so obvious category dealing with portals "If you have more than one portal on a layout, you need to name one of the fields in the portal before using the Go to Portal Row script step. Otherwise, the step will attempt to work on the portal that was placed on the layout first, which may have unexpected results."

I firmly believe that just the condensed information contained in the "Caution" and "Tip" sections of this book justify its purchase. Personally I will keep this book nearby as an excellent source for reference and I will highly recommend it to those that I constantly field questions from the newsgroups after they have gone through several hours of frustration because they have not had the benefit of this material. Hats off to Jonathan and Nonie. You have saved me a lot of time typing replies to questions. Now I can just respond, "Buy Learn FileMaker Pro 6".

About the Reviewer
Mr. Pierre Lessard is the President of Software Secrets Consulting Inc. a Canadian software development firm providing custom solutions for business. Software Secrets Consulting Inc. has recently entered the pre-packaged software solutions market with Wine-File Pro, a Wine Cellar Management software for wine collectors available at Pierre holds a diploma in Database Development and Administration from Herzing College. He has performed consulting services for companies such as Alcatel and Media-X and has most recently provided Software Quality Assurance services for FileMaker Canada Inc. working on the testing and development of future releases of their product line. He can be reached at

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