It’s always an interesting challenge to take a system you are familiar with and try to use it in an entirely new way or context. That’s what I’ve been getting with PHP of late. As more and more of my web development work moves to Rails, I’ve had the chance to work on PHP embedded within Filemaker Pro as I’ve tested and explored Scodigo‘s new Smart Pill plugin.
For those of us used to programming in full-fledged languages, writing scripts and functions in filemaker can be quite a challenge. Writing and debugging all that recursive code is a time-consuming process, and communicating with external processes isn’t really worth the work without plugins. Smart Pill changes all that, by opening up the entire PHP (5.1.4, including many extensions) engine for use within Filemaker.
I can’t imagine the plugin is going to tempt many web developers over to Filemaker, but for those who are integrating with existing filemaker systems or who need an office database system but want to be able to make use of web services or any of the other functionality PHP allows this could be a huge improvement.
You can see a screencast of the plugin in action, including a number of examples I worked on, over at the Filemaker Magazine site.