What is a database?

A database (database system, DBS) is classically understood as a software program with which large amounts of data can be stored and managed efficiently, unambiguously and without contradiction. A data base system usually consists of a data base management system (DBMS) as well as the data to be administered (DB), also called database.

In a classic SQL database, these two parts are usually separate – a program (DBMS) is executed on a client that accesses SQL databases (DB) provided on an external server.

Separation of database management system and database

In FileMaker databases these two parts are usually found within one database file (.fmp12). In this context, the database management system is understood to be all controlling elements such as scripts, layouts or custom functions. The database itself is provided by the contained data tables.

In FileMaker, separation of the database management system and the database is not standard. However, this procedure has a decisive advantage, since updates only require the DBMS to be updated and the pure databases do not need to be changed. In this way, program updates can be carried out much easier and faster.

In order to realize the separation of database management system and database in FileMaker nevertheless, there are several approaches for this purpose for several years. Probably the best known approach is to create sufficient (usually hundreds of) replacement fields in each table, which have no function at the time of creation and are numbered consecutively. In addition, several replacement tables are created, which also contain hundreds of fields with all available field types. In this way, the replacement fields and replacement tables can be accessed when the software is extended – an adaptation of the database management system is then only necessary in rare cases – for example, if two tables are to be linked together in a special way.

Since some time it is possible to create new fields in a FileMaker database during runtime using the MBS FileMaker Plugin. This can also be an approach to separate data in FileMaker from the DBMS.

separation of data and DBMS in gFM-Business

In the business software gFM-Business, data and database management system are largely separated. After most adaptations and enhancements, it is not necessary to update data tables during an update, but only if changes have also been made to a data table.

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About Author

Markus Schall
Development of FileMaker databases since 1994, modification and extension of FileMaker solutions, conversion of FileMaker databases from .fm, .fp3, .fp5 (FileMaker 2-6) or .fp7 (FileMaker 7-11) to .fmp12 (FileMaker 12-17), interfaces to third-party systems such as online shops, CMS or other databases. Development of individual FileMaker database systems based on the gFM business framework with personal advice from Oldenburg. Operator of the online specialist portal, developer of the CRM and merchandise management system gFM-Business. Member of FileMaker Business Alliance, FileMaker Developers Subscription and FMM Expert. Winner of an FMM Award 2011, awarded by the FileMaker Magazine.