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FileMaker Organizes Biological Research at The Salk Institue

The Salk Institute

The Salk Institute is a private, non–profit, research organization located in La Jolla, California. Scientists here are dedicated to fundamental research in biology and its relation to health, studying such challenging problems as the organization and operation of the brain, the control of gene activity, and the molecular origins of cancer, AIDS and other diseases.

Overview

  • Researchers at Salk Institute used to track their biological research with a difficult–to–use FoxPro system. Needing web–publishing and cross–platform capability, they switched to FileMaker Pro.

Industry

  • Information Technology
  • Non–Profit

This is a product that is fun to develop with, and I look forward to maximizing the power of FileMaker Pro as it continues to evolve.

— Michael Picardal, Research Database Manager at Salk LCN

Business Challenge

The Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience (LCN) focuses specifically on new perspectives on language through studies of sign language and brain organization. In addition, LCN is focused in performing breakthrough research in genetic disorders in populations with Williams Syndrome, and in linking cognition, brain and gene.

'This lab has been using Macintosh Visual FoxPro for its primary database. However, the Labratory has never been able to utilize any of the true power of this comprehensive database management system because it is very difficult to learn and develop for most people.' Explains Michael Picardal, Research Database Manager at Salk LCN. 'Everyone in the lab hated using the FoxPro database because it was always a mystery to understand and confusing to perform queries.'

Mr. Picardal was brought in to manage the situation. Just after his arrival, Mr. Picardal began assessing the past, present and future needs of the lab. 'It was clear we had to move out of FoxPro.' he said. 'This decision was made easier by the fact that Microsoft no longer supported Visual FoxPro on the Macintosh. Also, the ability to publish our databases on the web was not possible using Visual FoxPro without extensive programming, long development time and expense.'

Thus the search began for a development environment upon which to develop the replacement for Salk LCN's FoxPro database system. Since the Lab primarily runs on Macintosh systems, there were only three options from which to choose. 'To stay with the Mac platform, we had two choices, 4D or FileMaker. The third alternative was to invest in Windows machines specifically to develop with Visual FoxPro for Windows.'

Successful Solution

Changing platforms would be an expensive option, and one that the lab decided not to pursue. Which left only two remaining choices: FileMaker or 4D.

'Taking into account the scope of the projects in our lab, and a cost/benefit analysis of all alternative products, I chose FileMaker Pro because ideally, it fit the needs of the lab and its projects. What sold me completely is that developing applications could be done very quickly, on either a Windows or Macintosh system, with the same querying functionality of our FoxPro database. And it could be made to look very sexy!' Mr. Picardal explained.

After the work in implementing the FileMaker–based system was completed, lab workers were impressed. 'The comments I get is that it (the new database system) looks like a website; that tells me everyone is comfortable with it. There is no fear of databases anymore.'

Very soon, project participants off site will be able to access data via the web. I am also making FileMaker Pro the standard database product to be used for all database needs.

— Michael Picardal, Research Database Manager at Salk LCN

Customer Benefits

The new database system has proved to be a tremendous asset to the lab. Looking into the future, Mr. Picardal sees an ever expanding role for FileMaker. 'Very soon, project participants off site will be able to access data via the web. I am also making FileMaker Pro the standard database product to be used for all database needs. Nobody wants anything to do with FoxPro anymore.'

In closing, Mr. Picardal commented 'This is a product that is fun to develop with, and I look forward to maximizing the power of FileMaker Pro as it continues to evolve.'

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com