FileMaker has tweaked the user interface in a "significant" new version of its flagship relational database, FileMaker Pro.

The Apple subsidiary launched FileMaker Pro 10 on Monday, promising "the most dramatic design changes in over a decade." Indeed, the new release features a redesigned and customisable Status Toolbar, similar to browser toolbars. This, says the company, allows commonly used FileMaker Pro features that were previously only accessible from the main menu, to be closer to hand.

"This is a very significant release, giving the user interface the most change in over ten years, so it is not just a little refresh," explained Tony Speakman, regional manager for Northern Europe. Indeed, FileMaker has long been associated with the integration of a database engine with the GUI-based interface. Back in the 1980s, FileMaker was one of a handful of database applications released for the Apple Macintosh, but it is not just a Mac-oriented database.

"The Mac emphasis is a perception but if you look at market penetration, 90 percent of machines used in businesses are PCs, and it is fair to say that the majority of our customers are PC-based," said Speakman.

FileMaker Pro can run on both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, and one of its key advantages is that it looks and feels exactly the same in Windows as on a Mac.

Speakman told Techworld of the other new features in FileMaker Pro 10, which now has the ability to automatically save searches. This is a useful feature that allows users to save specific searches. For example, a search to locate customers in London who have spent more than £1,000 ($1,459) in the past year, but have not ordered in the last three months, can now be saved and used repeatedly again in the future.

Script Triggers have also been introduced in the new version. A FileMaker Script is essentially similar to a spreadsheet macro, and these can now be run based on timing or whenever users take a specified action in Browse Mode or Find Mode, such as clicking in a field or exiting a viewing mode. FileMaker Pro comes with 12 ready-to-use Script Triggers (five object-based and seven layout-based).

The database also has the ability to pull data in from an Excel 2007 spreadsheet, or a .CSV, Tab or Bento 2 file.

It also features dynamic reports, allowing users to make changes on the fly to their underlying data, and then allowing them to see this updated information in a report, without them having to rerun the report.

SQL support has been enhanced, and it can now display, access and use data from a greater number of SQL sources, including SQL tables in Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Oracle 11g and MySQL 5.1 community edition.

Users can also send email directly from FileMaker Pro instead of having to open their email client, thanks to the ability to send mail via SMTP.

FileMaker is shipping the entire FileMaker Pro 10 product line, which includes FileMaker Pro 10 Advanced (the developer version), as well as FileMaker Server 10 and FileMaker Server 10 Advanced (which includes web publishing capabilities). FileMaker Server 10 features simplified server management and an enhanced PHP Site Assistant.

FileMaker 10 also comes with an updated Quick Start screen and Resource Centre. The updated help centres now include videos to help users get going faster. All FileMaker 10 products are immediately available.

New users may order FileMaker Pro 10 for £219/£131 upgrade ($319/$191) and FileMaker pro 10 Advanced for £329/£197 upgrade ($480/$287).

FileMaker Server 10 is £699/£419 upgrade and FileMaker Server 10 Advanced is £2,199/£1,319 upgrade.