I received an e-mail this week from one of our customers who uses both Alpha Five and FileMaker. Considering our FileMaker debates that raged this past summer, I thought this customer brought up some very interesting points in his experience using both platforms that would be worth sharing here.
As he still has Filemaker Client's, we won't reveal his identity. So for now, let's call him Mr. X. Here's Mr. X's story, as he wrote it:
I use both FileMaker and Alpha Five. Both have very good points. But I thought you'd be interested in this observation.Actually, one of our Alpha team members did a little online searching after reading Mr. X's e-mail, and found that many FileMaker users are becoming frustrated over these typical FileMaker issues.
Some areas that FileMaker is extremely deficient in are:
Compare importing say, 50,000 records into a FileMaker file versus an Alpha table (using similar index and field attribute settings for both tables.) Alpha will do this in minutes. FileMaker -- forget it -- go out to lunch and dinner, and maybe in six plus hours it might be done.
Import larger files -- forget about it.
Compare the time it takes to delete those same 50,000 records. In Alpha, it's near instant. In FileMaker, it takes even longer to delete the records than it does to import them. The common FileMaker "trick" to solving this problem is to create an empty clone of the data file and then delete the data file that contains the records. This "trick" must be done manually, as one cannot write a script to do it.
Updating large data tables Again, the Alpha edge is incredible. Try updating the 50,000 records, or even a subset of "found" records in the 50,000 records. Alpha will handle it very well. FileMaker does it, but you'll need to run it overnight because it will take ten to 12 hours OR LONGER.
Sorting records Try sorting that same 50,000 records by say, last name. In Alpha, it's near instant. In FileMaker, go to the bathroom and get a cup of coffee. It should be done by the time you return.
I am stunned at the lack of outcry by the FileMaker development community over these issues. I guess, it's they don't know other applications do it faster (much faster), or this is what they've grown use to and just accept it as the standard.
An example of this frustration is expressed in this posting.
FileMaker Pro is impossibly slow in importing records, deleting records and even in doing something easy like emptying one field in a database. I have a database with 130.000 records. If you choose to import the records from a text file (which in my case was necessary because the field needed to be changed to unicode) it virtually took hours. And this is only for one field. Same problem if you need to delete a larger number of records.
If there is no workaround (I do not know of any) this problem makes FileMaker absolutely useless in my opinion."
For more Alpha vs. FileMaker info and comparisons, take a look at our previous posts on the matter.