Whatever happened to …

… Filemaker Pro?

Thanks to Andy Forgrave for the idea for this post that came across as a comment to a post from earlier this week. I just know that his response will be longer than this post, given his long experience with the product.

There was a time, a long time ago, that my experience with databases involved Microsoft Access. It actually wasn’t a big learning curve since I was pretty proficient with Excel and so I was able to do a lot of things including putting a searchable database on the web in the Webquest Locator.

But, around the time of amalgamation of school boards, there was also a new curriculum release. It involved the concept of Overall and Specific expectations and a new way of reporting – all electronic. The “report card” came out as a Filemaker Pro document. I’d never heard of Filemaker Pro before but my superintendent, a big Macintosh fan, told me that this was standard in the Macintosh world and now the Windows version would let the whole world see the light. Now, this was a huge learning curve for me.

I ended up pairing with our assessment consultant doing two hour workshops introducing lesson design with the new expectations scheme and reporting with the new report card. For a two hour session, he typically went through 90 minutes about curriculum and I had 30 minutes to do report card stuff. Needless to say, it wasn’t terribly successful!

I ended up doing two hour sessions on my own, over and over until I could probably do them in my sleep. The timing was right; many teachers had avoided using computers up until that point and everyone had to get with the program with the electronic report card. To make things actually valuable, around this time, the Ministry of Education released the Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner – this time a Filemaker Pro application and it was spectacular. Imagine having all the curriculum just a click away. Later, the Report Card came out as a Filemaker Pro application itself and I had all kinds of fun supporting that and using the features of both of these applications.

Throughout all this, we had a number of versions of the program available – I recall 2.1, 4.2, and 5.5. Ownership of the program also changed moving from Claris to Filemaker Inc.

Filemaker Pro continues to grow and it’s an application that has evolved from a standalone application to web. I haven’t used it since the 5.5 days

For a Sunday, how about your thoughts?

  • Do you recall using the Electronic Report Card and the Ontario Curriculum Planner? Do you have any success or horror stories?
  • Do you use database programs in any form? Which one(s)?
  • Have you ever developed your own personal database?
  • Did the Filemaker program introduce you to the Helvetica font?
  • Did you then, or do you now, share Report Card comments with others?
  • Do you know what a Troi plugin is?
  • Did your comments on student report cards become better when you started typing them instead of handwriting them? (handwriting? gasp)

Please share your thoughts below. As always, I’d enjoy reading them.

This post is part of an ongoing Sunday series of memory posts. You can read them all here.

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If you read it anywhere else, it’s not original.

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

2 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. What a perfect weekend for this post since all Ontario educators ar in the midst of report card season right now. I remember using FileMaker Pro for report cards and the unit planner. I only used it for the unit planner one time. I made some social skills unit on Winnie the Pooh when I was in the Faculty of Education, and finishing it was the first time that I stayed up all night. The unit was huge, and I never even used it. My planning for inquiry topics now is much less neat and organized, but way more effective (at least for me and my teaching partner). Live and learn! 🙂 Thankfully I don’t remember handwriting report cards (my lack of ever being able to find a pen would be a problem), but I do have some that teachers hand wrote about me. Your questions also made me think, as I used to share report card comments, but now personalize Communication of Learning ones. Now these are the kinds of reports I actually like. 🙂


    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, and now to get started on Communications of Learning. Excited to read Andy’s comment here later! 🙂


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  2. I started teaching after the handwritten report cards had been replaced. Thank goodness! But I’ve three times had to learn a new program and it’s tricky. Every time I whine about the reports, My mother-in-law talks about having to write them in a rough draft, then neatly print a “final”version on the report. She laments having to occasionally use White-Out! So I’m very glad we can now type them, and copy & paste easily!

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