TweetFollow Us on Twitter

May 01 KoolTools

Volume Number: 17 (2001)
Issue Number: 05
Column Tag: KoolTools

Is 4D 6.7 Really Worth it for RAD Developers?

by Matthew Stoton

RADically Different

The main goal of any high-end database is to deploy information as fast and easily as possible. Until version 5, FileMaker has been the obvious choice for anyone; experienced or not. 4th Dimension is now ready to entice FileMaker users to make the switch with version 6.7. Now 4D has RAD capabilities, WAP support, Mac OS Theme support, 24 new and 24 modified commands and several new Internet features. More than enough reasons to upgrade, but will it be enough to bring FileMaker users home?

All Entangling Web

If you have ever used FileMaker's not-so-instant web publishing then you will love 4D's simple, and instant, web publishing features. It produces HTML 4 and supports many other web-based technologies such as JavaScript and XML. For those wondering about security, 4D supports both SSL 2 and 3; a big bonus for eCommerce starters. Still, most beginners will be stunned by the installation process of the web assistant. You must open your database using the 4D Insiderr, install the web assistant and wait. You may also have to edit the installed code, although the exact purpose of this is not mentioned. Aside from this, web publishing is extremely easy and actually instant.

No Relationship?

What about those who only need a single user database? This is where most would crown FileMaker king... or not. 4D has some great tools for small-time developers that simply can't be ignored. Sure, I'll be the first to admit that 4D, if put in the hands of an unexperienced user, can be overkill. For the unexperienced, Filemaker's word-like simplicity is great, yet it lacks some of the features of a full-featured database like 4th Dimension. 4D has power that can't be found in FileMaker, although this can be troublesome at times. Even if you don't need a relational database, 4D is still the product for you. Even if you only need to do simple database tasks, 4D will boost your productivity like you've never seen before.

Bugs and So Much More

Of course you'd hardly expect a feature packed program like this to be bug free. And after years of using a rather mediocre product, you could over look more interface glitches than you care to admit. Not so. With 4D you have no reason to anyway. In FileMaker 5 the interface looks exactly like AppleWorks 5, except for an ugly Microsoft Word button-bar. 4D has a similar button bar that looks more like AppleWorks' but with tool-tips instead of an info box. It opens to a simple "open/new" dialog box, allowing you to open a previous database or make a new one. After choosing "New Database", you must make the structure for it. This is sure to confuse users who used the "Define Fields" window in FileMaker. In the structure window you define the table, fields and any relationships between them. This speeds up the field-making process tremendously. After this you are required to create a form ; 4D's version of FileMaker's "layout". Naturally, the process of making a form is quick and easy, it can be completed in as little as five minutes depending on the size of database. A much more daunting task is editing a created form. It brings up two palettes: the tools palette and the property list. Both palettes take up tons of screen space and the tools palette has no tool-tips for it's generic-looking icons. The most annoying problem is that when you align two objects using the align feature, both objects move to a central point. Unless you go deeper into that menu, can you bring up a more detailed alignment dialog. The design area isn't all faults though. You can choose to display many different page guides to assist in keeping everything in the page. It also offers a grid, rulers, grouping, mass duplication and many other time-saving options.

Scientifically Fast

The main reason to choose 4D is it's speed, or ability to save time. It's interface isn't nearly as nice as that of Bryce, but it isn't all that bad either. It doesn't really enable you to have a "liquid work flow", but it offers some really smooth easy-to-find features. Time is the 4th Dimension, so its no coincidence that they named the program 4D. I must say, it really is fast. If for no other reason, buy it because it has the edge on speed. Not only in creating records or other automatic tasks but also in form creation, data importing and structure creating. All tasks that can slow you down on other software.

Learn a New Language

Although it isn't absolutely necessary, it is advisable to learn the 4D programming language. By using it you enable greater flexibility and without this skill your database or application will be much less powerful. If you are the type that doesn't like to read manuals you should at least browse through the 1600 pages. If you actually read the thing then you will pick up the language much better. It's language, though simple, will knock FileMaker users to the ground. It is not one bit like the all-to-familiar ScriptMaker of FileMaker. Nor is the language anything like the incredibly simple HyperTalk. 4D's language is much like that of FoxPro. For novices this is just one more thing to learn. For seasoned professionals the power of the language will allow much greater flexibility. Although some commands are missing it is a rather mature programming language that empowers all users, novice or pro.

Final Word

4th Dimension is a great database for those who know databases. If you are a novice then you will not be able to exploit as much of 4D's power as an experienced user would, but you will still get incredible results. If you already own FileMaker then the decision to switch is an easy one. Even software developers will love it's great functionality using RAD. Whether making a database or anything else time is always important. 4D gives users more speed and flexibility. So, whether you are a seasoned professional, unhappy FileMaker user or a complete novice, you will be at home in 4th Dimension.


Matthew Stoton is a software developer and writer. He uses RAD and visual programming tools. You can reach him at editorial@mactech.com or visit his site at www.totallymac.8m.com.

 
AAPL
$98.15
Apple Inc.
-0.23
MSFT
$43.58
Microsoft Corpora
-0.31
GOOG
$587.42
Google Inc.
+1.81

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Knock 1.1.7 - Unlock your Mac by knockin...
Knock is a faster, safer way to sign in. You keep your iPhone with you all the time. Now you can use it as a password. You never have to open the app -- just knock on your phone twice, even when it's... Read more
Mellel 3.3.6 - Powerful word processor w...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical writing and multilingual... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.0.4 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
Freeway Pro 7.0 - Drag-and-drop Web desi...
Freeway Pro lets you build websites with speed and precision... without writing a line of code! With it's user-oriented drag-and-drop interface, Freeway Pro helps you piece together the website of... Read more
Drive Genius 3.2.4 - Powerful system uti...
Drive Genius is an OS X utility designed to provide unsurpassed storage management. Featuring an easy-to-use interface, Drive Genius is packed with powerful tools such as a drive optimizer, a... Read more
Vitamin-R 2.15 - Personal productivity t...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
Toast Titanium 12.0 - The ultimate media...
Toast Titanium goes way beyond the very basic burning in the Mac OS and iLife software, and sets the standard for burning CDs, DVDs, and now Blu-ray discs on the Mac. Create superior sounding audio... Read more
OS X Yosemite Wallpaper 1.0 - Desktop im...
OS X Yosemite Wallpaper is the gorgeous new background image for Apple's upcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite. This wallpaper is available for all screen resolutions with a source file that measures 5,418... Read more
Acorn 4.4 - Bitmap image editor. (Demo)
Acorn is a new image editor built with one goal in mind - simplicity. Fast, easy, and fluid, Acorn provides the options you'll need without any overhead. Acorn feels right, and won't drain your bank... Read more
Bartender 1.2.20 - Organize your menu ba...
Bartender lets you organize your menu bar apps. Features: Lets you tidy your menu bar apps how you want. See your menu bar apps when you want. Hide the apps you need to run, but do not need to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Murl the Squirrel (Games)
Murl the Squirrel 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Meet Murl. He is teased by a group of flying squirrels because he can't fly. Determined to show them he's can fly, he meets... | Read more »
Celleste (Games)
Celleste 0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 0.1 (iTunes) Description: Lots of cute action with amazing 3D graphics and a new type of gameplay! Take control over the forces of the universe to help a group... | Read more »
Super Heavy Sword (Games)
Super Heavy Sword 0.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 0.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Get Ready to Get HEAVY! Monster Robot Studios presents SUPER Heavy Sword! The sequel to the smash hit HEAVY sword which... | Read more »
Angels In The Sky (Games)
Angels In The Sky 1.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.00 (iTunes) Description: - This game is only for the iPhone 5s. please do not use the iPad, iPhone 5 or earlier devices.- Just touch or holding... | Read more »
80 Days (Games)
80 Days 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: 1872, with a steampunk twist. Phileas Fogg has wagered he can circumnavigate the world in just eighty days. Choose your own route... | Read more »
Micromon (Games)
Micromon 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: 130+ Animated Monsters to Catch & Battle! No waiting, play at your own pace! Embark on an epic monster capture RPG like none... | Read more »
Empire Manager (Games)
Empire Manager 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Become ruler of an empire. Manage your economy, develop technology, hire an army and conquer the world in this addictive turn-... | Read more »
Empire Manager HD (Games)
Empire Manager HD 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Become ruler of an empire. Manage your economy, develop technology, hire an army and conquer the world in this addictive... | Read more »
Star Admiral Review
Star Admiral Review By Rob Thomas on July 30th, 2014 Our Rating: :: ADMIRABLE ADMIRALSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad While this new digital CCG may feel a bit familiar, Star Admiral offers a sci-fi twist and galaxy’s... | Read more »
Zap! Pow! Become a Badass Wizard in Phan...
Zap! Pow! | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

iPad Cannibalization Threat “Overblown”
Seeking Alpha’s Kevin Greenhalgh observes that while many commentators think Apple’s forthcoming 5.5-inch panel iPhone 6 will cannibalize iPad sales, in his estimation, these concerns are being... Read more
Primate Labs Releases July 2014 MacBook Pro P...
Primate Labs’ John Poole has posted Geekbench 3 results for most of the new MacBook Pro models that Apple released on Tuesday. Poole observes that overall performance improvements for the new MacBook... Read more
Apple Re-Releases Bugfixed MacBook Air EFI Fi...
Apple has posted a bugfixed version EFI Firmware Update 2.9 a for MacBook Air (Mid 2011) models. The update addresses an issue where systems may take longer to wake from sleep than expected, and... Read more
Save $50 on the 2.5GHz Mac mini, plus free sh...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Save up to $140 on an iPad Air with Apple ref...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished iPad Airs for up to $140 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Stock tends to come and go with some of these... Read more
$250 price drop on leftover 15-inch Retina Ma...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on 2013 15″ Retina MacBook Pros by $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.3GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $2249, $250 off... Read more
More iPad Upgrade Musings – The ‘Book Mystiqu...
Much discussed recently, what with Apple reporting iPad sales shrinkage over two consecutive quarters, is that it had apparently been widely assumed that tablet users would follow a two-year hardware... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $999.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $100 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Save up to $300 on an iMac with Apple refurbi...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more
WaterField Unveils 15″ Outback Solo & 13″...
Hard on the heels of Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pro Retina laptops announcement, WaterField Designs has unveiled a 15-inch version of the waxed-canvas and leather Outback Solo and a 13-inch version of... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.