We moved our Apiary field paper records to an iPad 2 FileMaker Go relational database in 2011. We decided to use a relational database record keeping system because of its capability to quickly sort and view many thousand pieces of data and its ability to display search results via formatted or on-the-spot reports.
We had experimented with Palm Pilot databases in early 2003 but found that sun glare and battery issues made these devices impractical. We began looking at FileMaker Pro 8 in 2005 and then upgraded to FileMaker Pro 9 in 2007; but we were just playing around. Then we got serious and upgraded to FileMaker Pro 10 in 2010 after the iPad introduction was announced. We completed all the flat file database work in 2010.
If we were going to use the iPad in our bee yards we needed to turn our flat file database into a relational database. For the serious relational development work I needed an expert. I went to the FileMaker Pro web site and searched for Certified FileMaker Pro Consultants. From the certified list we picked. Awaisi Inc. They did all the relational development work during the 2011 database transition. We worked very closely with them from May through November; we are very satisfied with their work.
The transition to the iPad and FileMaker Go was not easy. We had to modify the FileMaker Go iPad layout as the beekeeping season progressed. We found the FileMaker Go layout had to be changed due to field conditions and user input. For instance we needed to simplify the screen layout by making input boxes and fonts larger, we needed to change the layout from landscape to portrait, and we needed to change the way Checkbox and Radio button choices were pre-populated.
Last year Mary made over 2,200 visits to our 120 hives. After each hive inspection, hive manipulation or hive measurement she recorded her notes on the iPad 2. When she completed the out yard inspection she used a cellular 3G network to transmit the new and updated records from the iPad 2 back to a FileMaker Pro database located in our Honey House. Finally we covered the iPad 2 with an Otter box defender 2 series case and an iPad screen protector to provide extra protection while in the field.