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Database programming question

I have done some development using Access and am now switching to the Mac and learning Objective-C. I am also new to programming with databases, so I don't have all the lingo and knowledge to fully express my question. I have primarilly programmed in C on a UNIX machine and Visual Basic for applications in Excel and Access to do data storage, retrieval, and processing.

Question: Can a developer use FileMaker Pro as an underlying database to develop a stand-alone application for data management, query, analysis, and alteration? For instance, though I haven't done this, can a stand alone application get a query from a user via a form window, send a query command (in SQL or other language) to the FileMaker Pro database and receive the desired data back for proprietary use in the stand-alone application? And vice-versa, can the stand-alone application receive new data via a form window and send it to the FileMaker Pro database to update or add records? A real world application of this would be, in a health study, we send out questionaires and receive them back. We want to put the data in and run a
statistical analysis. My application would bring up a form for data analysis, then the user would issue a command to do a statistical analysis. The program would go to the database file, retrieve (for this example) age and weight information, run the statistical analysis, and then display the summary statistics. Is FileMaker Pro able to do this? And if so, is there a book describing how this process can be done in the Mac environment? If not, is there a better option?

Thank you for any help and insight you can provide.
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PhilipRiggs
Asked:
PhilipRiggs
1 Solution
 
pakiCommented:
Where is the data that you will do stat analysis on? Local drive, floppy, website, another db? What format is it in?

Example: Your Filemaker Pro application takes the user to the form. The user fills-in the appropriate information. The program imports certain fields from the data file(TXT/XLS/XML/dBase/SQL query). Runs the stat analysis and takes the user to a summary results layout for printing or savisg.

If the above is correct, Filemaker can do the job just fine.

Do you plan to distribute the app or have the minterface through a web page?
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PhilipRiggsAuthor Commented:
The program and data would be on a local network drive for in-house lab access. Format is undefined at this point.

If I understand correctly:
1. Develop a form in Filemaker Pro
2. User inputs data via that form
3. Filemaker exports the desired data in, say, text format
4. My program imports the text file
5. My program runs the analysis
6. My program displays results for saving or printing

Can my program run a script in Filemaker Pro to automate tasks 1-3?

Thanks for the reply!
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KungFoolioCommented:
Yes, FileMaker can take care of tasks 1-3.

Step 3 can occur as a script step that exports records to a file (file format of your choice), or via ODBC.

FileMaker is ODBC level 1 compliant, basically meaning that it doesn't keep live communication with the ODBC source - you have to prompt it. You can do this with or without a plug-in. Your ODBC source sould be an SQL server, MS Access db, etc.

(As a statistican that uses FileMaker - I enter data in FileMaker, use a scripted export, and import and work with the data inside of whatever statistics program I'm using. Sure, for summary stats I have FileMaker reports, but there's no reason to teach FileMaker to do regressions, and no one would believe your results anyway :) )
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