Logo for FM BetterForms, used for creating FileMaker web apps

FM BetterForms: Creating a Modern Web Application with Your FileMaker Data

Your FileMaker app runs your business. Yet its potential may be untapped by your clients. Transform it into a polished, professional web app, unlocking the full potential of your data.

We have been using FM BetterForms for several years to readily create modern, fully web standards-compliant applications for our clients. After attending the recent Claris Engage conference in Austin, Texas, our team has a new-found enthusiasm for building even more applications with BetterForms!

Logo for FM BetterForms, with Build Anything tagline

What is FM BetterForms?

FM Betterforms is a hosting and front-end development tool for your FileMaker database. It readily integrates with your existing FileMaker Server, whether on-premise or cloud-hosted (though it is currently not compatible with Claris Cloud), and provides a development interface for creating your web application. You’re able to expand the abilities of your app without needing to overhaul your foundational business logic. 

On the back end, BetterForms solves the complex problem of reliably accessing your FileMaker data at scale. Nothing complex here; it just works.

On the front end, our web developers utilize time-saving tools like AI – which is a reality in FileMaker today – along with pre-built components and real-time deployments. BetterForms gives you, the developer, a substantial head-start on your overall application design. In fact, components are designed with responsiveness in mind so transitions from desktop to mobile are seamless.

How about authentication? BetterForms can support this step right out of the box coupled with URL hashing, username / password, web sign-up process, and even external OAuth providers. 

Read a couple of our blog articles about our experience with OAuth integrations and transitions.

Another key point is that versioning is built into the design tools, and, if necessary, you can quickly roll back to the previous version of a design at the click of a button.

How Does FileMaker Data Get Integrated with the Web?

There are a variety of ways of integrating your FileMaker data with the web, each with ensuing advantages and disadvantages. 

FileMaker WebDirect is innovative web technology that instantly runs FileMaker apps directly in a web browser – on desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone – with no web programming and no additional software required.

Gif showing FM BetterForms in use on a mobile phone, for a Soup Notifier app.
FM BetterForms in use through mobile, for the Soup Notifier app

It is impossible to beat FileMaker WebDirect for some applications and we love utilizing it, but it is best suited to applications where the base of users is known since it does have its quirks – like the Back and Forward buttons not working in the browser.

For many applications, you don’t know who the users will be and you want the web application to behave as any typical web user would expect it to. This area is where FM BetterForms gives you exactly what you’re looking for, without the complexity and cost of a traditional full-stack web application.

Why Does FM BetterForms Matter to You?

Take a look at these elements from the FM BetterForms website and see how they highlight the unmatched power and flexibility of its implementation.  

  • Develop like a pro
  • Experience scalable, high-performance solutions
  • Maximize your FileMaker skills
  • Build true multi-tenant apps
  • Implement robust validation logic
  • Enjoy a range of starter templates
  • Customize your navigation and design
  • Use a cross-platform and mobile responsive tool
  • Implement full user authentication
Gif showing FM BetterForms in use for a stamp & seals registry
FM BetterForms provides a clean interface for your clients and guests.

We’ve Enjoyed Using FM BetterForms Across Several Projects

Rapidly growing specialty healthcare clinic

Icon of a healthcare clinic.

We created a complex series of forms for patient registration that is tightly integrated with the FileMaker back end to customize the path the user takes through the forms based on information in the FileMaker application.

Large Games Developer

Icon of a chess board.

BetterForms allows us to rapidly create an artwork approval process, external to FileMaker, which allows a user to click a button in FileMaker that, in turn, triggers an email to an external approver. Said email includes a URL that sends the approver to an FM BetterForms web application, where the approver sees the artwork and can approve, deny and add comments related to the artwork.

Startup COVID Response Project

Icon of a COVID virus.

Rapid development was essential for this project where we created a series of data acquisition forms for gathering data about COVID symptoms for an employer-managed screening process.

Unlock the Full Potential of your Data

In summary, FM BetterForms is an excellent tool for creating modern web applications from your FileMaker data, seamlessly integrating with your existing FileMaker infrastructure. Schedule a free 15-minute Zoom session with us, where we can discuss incorporating this solution into your workflow.

About the Author

John Newhoff’s business background and years of database design, computer, and network configuration, and troubleshooting experience allow him to see beyond the immediate problem to the long-term solution. John is the business manager of Portage Bay and our lead 4th Dimension developer, creating sophisticated cross-platform solutions.

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