I’ve spent some time over the past few weeks using the new External SQL Data Sources feature that is part of FileMaker Pro 9 and I have to say I’m pretty impressed. I’ve started using it internally to do something I’ve been dreaming of for many years – live integration (no import/export) between and internal FileMaker CRM system and an external web based SQL database. With work on my new website almost complete I’ve been building some MySQL databases for the usual tasks of feedback, product suggestions and other web based forms. In the past I would receive emails when these forms had been submitted and copy/paste into a FileMaker database. Now I can view these MySQL tables from within FileMaker Pro 9 at the office. I’m impressed with the speed and responsiveness so far and also how you can set this up on FileMaker Server 9 so you don’t have to worry about installing ODBC drivers on all the workstations.
If you’re getting started with ESS and FileMaker Pro 9 I would recommend the public ESS Tech Brief and if you’re a TechNet member there’s a more detailed technical version available in the TechNet members only area. There’s also an article in the March 2008 issue of FileMaker Advisor by the same author as the tech briefs available from FileMaker.
Finally make sure you use the new Refresh Window menu command (under the Records menu) or have a button/script that uses the Refresh Window [flush cached SQL data] script step to update your ESS views.
I also tested ESS with WordPress which uses MySQL as the database backend and I can view the WordPress tables in FileMaker Pro 9 too!