What is the FileMaker Data API?
Released in beta with FileMaker 16, the FileMaker Data API allows you to open up your FileMaker data to other systems. This makes the sharing of this data more straightforward than it’s been in the past. The functionality opens up your data capabilities through a variety of potential integrations.
In the past, accessing your FileMaker data from outside systems required complex programming in XML, PHP or related technologies, often requiring the creation of middleware. With the FileMaker Data API, external systems can access FileMaker data directly, via the widely-used REST approach. This simplifies solutions and reduces the need for middleware or additional libraries such as ODBC.
What Do You Need to Use the FileMaker Data API?
You need a FileMaker Server license to use this functionality.
How Can You Use the FileMaker Data API?
The possibilities for this functionality are endless and ultimately depend on your business. The FileMaker Data API opens the door to your FileMaker data to work with other systems. This enhances your offerings and better serves your key audiences. You now have the capabilities of other systems at the disposal of your FileMaker data in a newer, faster, and more secure way.
But what does this mean exactly? Here are a couple of use cases for several industries to give you an idea.
Colleges and universities can utilize the FileMaker API to bring data from various FileMaker solutions into common learning platforms. For example, they can connect Blackboard, a popular technology for student-teacher communication, with departmental systems that contain department-specific or course-specific information. From Blackboard, students could also modify data within individual departments’ FileMaker databases.
Large printing-software packages such as Heidelberg Prinect could query data from more agile line-of-business FileMaker systems. For example, sales leads stored in a FileMaker system could be queried in order to generate jobs and projects in the main Heidelberg system.
Food & Beverage
Companies with a wealth of product, distributor, customer, and other types of data at their fingertips have a significant opportunity to customize their offerings. First, however, they need to analyze their data with complex reporting to uncover necessary insights. With the new FileMaker Data API, data managers can connect their clients’ account data with Tableau. This popular data analytics platform makes analysis much easier and streamlined.
While K-12 schools continue to heavily emphasize parent involvement in students’ education, many cannot determine the best way to communicate with parents about their students without reducing teachers’ time with students. For schools using a FileMaker database to track students’ progress, they can bridge the gap with a common communication application. This automatically pulls data from FileMaker and sending a daily update report to parents without monopolizing educators’ time.
It’s been possible in the past to share FileMaker data with widely-used content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, to name a few. The FileMaker Data AI makes it faster and simpler. CMS users can inspect data stored in a FileMaker database, and integrate that data directly into web pages. Users could also send data back into FileMaker. For example, they can addresses and other profile information inside WordPress. This data would then be sent back and stored in a FileMaker System.
Enterprise Integration Platforms
Enterprise Integration Platforms such as Informatica and Dell Boomi bring together data from many disparate sources across an organization. For example, an organization may wish to bring together data from Salesforce, ERP systems, EDI systems, CMS systems, and distributor catalogs. With the FileMaker DATA API, these platforms can easily query data from FileMaker and include it in their overall integration architecture.
Of course, these are just a few examples. The FileMaker Data API can bridge thousands of applications to drive more power with your data. You can connect Quickbooks to FileMaker, pulling customer data into your invoice process automatically to make your internal workflows more efficient. Through a Toggl-FileMaker integration, you can report on how your employees spend their time by data organized in FileMaker, such as project or task data.
We recommend brainstorming how your existing business applications could work together to improve efficiency and speed up your workflows. Then, you can move onto exploring other systems and how you can gain greater insights by connecting them with your FileMaker data.
How Much Does the FileMaker Data API cost?
This is a trickier question. At this point, it’s unclear how FileMaker plans to license this functionality. They probably won’t announce their intentions until FileMaker 17 is released.
We don’t anticipate the FileMaker Data API carrying a significant added cost for typical users. Our guess is that costs will be data volume based, as opposed to call volume based. In other words, the more data you plan on sending through the API, the more you should expect to spend. This is all conjecture, though. We I do recommend getting an idea of what kind of value you expect so that when pricing is released, you can weigh costs versus benefits.
While still in beta, this functionality is already quite powerful. You can start exploring benefits for your organization right away and prepare for a full version launching with FileMaker 17.
Since the announcement of the FileMaker Data API, we’ve been helping our clients understand and leverage its capabilities. We’ve been empowering organizations to connect their FileMaker data to external systems for years through our free SimpleFM and fmDotNet tools and have years of experiencing in this area.
To showcase this experience, we will be delivering a session at this year’s FileMaker Developers Conference. Join us for “IoT and the FileMaker Data API: Sending Sensor Data to FileMaker Server from a Raspberry Pi.”
We’re happy to help you navigate the best path forward with the new API. Learn more about how we empower clients to use the new functionality, or contact us to schedule a call with our team of certified FileMaker consultants today.
For a great introduction to how to use the FileMaker Data API functionality, check out this helpful article my team wrote.