Document-based SQL and REST API process automation

Simple ways to design, build, and share process interfaces that interact with distributed data

In 2024, FileMaker, Excel, Sheets, or Acrobat documents can be extended with PHP technologies to enable real-time data interactions with databases or APIs.

Extended documents use calculations and native functions to format and send query parameters to SQL databases in order to look-up information, execute Create-Read-Update-Delete transactions, call stored procedures, or interact with customer, reference, or messaging APIs, and then instantly filter and return query results back to the document as single values or as JSON, XML, CSV, FDF, or HTML arrays, automatically refreshing related calculations in the process.

Ultra-efficient 2-way data interactions, triggered as users enter, update, select, or click, sending query parameters to and conditionally processing and merging query responses from one or many databases or APIs in real-time.

Extended documents retain their native capabilities, can be shared in multiple ways, and can interact with any combination of databases or APIs in any order.

Originally created to simplify complicated data-assembly processes (order forms, cost estimates, invoice generation...), extended documents can also be used similarly to workflow and process automation platforms like Zapier, Make, Workato, Pabbly, Boomi, or Integrately, increasing process design options while eliminating platform-associated subscription costs, transaction fees, functionality limitations, security concessions, and third-party dependencies.


Claris FileMaker database forms can calculate and execute queries that use PHP, PDO, and cURL to interact with SQL databases and REST APIs. FileMaker provides an advanced process automation toolkit, designed specifically for building custom programmable controls and multi-user interfaces that can be shared securely using the Mac or Windows desktop application, WebDirect or mobile forms, or the FileMaker Data API.

Excel & Sheets

Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets spreadsheets can also use calculations and native functions to send query parameters to PHP scripts that interact with SQL databases or REST APIs. PHP scripts can filter real-time scalar or aggregate query results back to active spreadsheet cells in a variety of formats, like XML-formatted results for Excel dynamic arrays, CSV or HTML-formatted results for Sheets dynamic arrays.


Adobe Acrobat PDF forms can be utilized as freely-distributable data interaction runtimes. Any type of document can be converted to PDF and then extended to interact with SQL databases or REST APIs and return filtered query results back to form fields in real-time. More secure than HTML forms, Acrobat PDF forms are not susceptible to XSS, CSRF, or session attacks, and can be password protected, encrypted, flattened, or digitally signed.


PHP is the most popular server-side technology in the world, powering approximately 75% of websites globally. PHP Data Objects and cURL code libraries provide comparatively simple, securable, injection-resistant methods for efficiently interacting with SQL databases or REST APIs. Also, PHP is open-source technology, so there are no licensing costs, transaction fees, or subscriptions required to own and use reliable industrial strength code.


The PHP Data Objects (PDO) extension defines a lightweight and consistent interface for accessing SQL databases. PDO provides a data-access abstraction layer, designed so regardless of database type, you can use the same functions to execute queries and fetch results with minimal code modification because database drivers that implement the PDO interface expose database-specific features as regular extension functions.


PHP incorporates libcurl, an advanced cURL code library that provides extremely versatile connection and communication methods for REST APIs (and a lot of other things) using a variety of protocols. The libcurl library supports the http, https, ftp, gopher, telnet, dict, file, and ldap protocols, and also additionally supports HTTPS certificates, HTTP POST, HTTP PUT, FTP file uploads, HTTP form-based file uploads, proxies, cookies, and user authentication.

Depending on the document type, you can...

share calculating web forms that merge data from distributed and disparate sources...

return real-time
SQL or REST API query results to spreadsheet calculations...

execute simple or extremely complex SQL queries in real time...

add dynamic
SQL CRUD or REST API functions to PDF forms...

deploy really, really, really well connected desktop and mobile workgroup apps

“Extremely efficient, ridiculously cost-effective.”

“Simplified, lightness added.”

“That is way less complicated. Thanks."

minimal code

minimal expense

minimal dependencies

Web-enabled desktop or mobile interfaces, simple deployment, minimized dependencies, integrating disparate technologies to build simple or complex data automation solutions.

Take a look at the examples at the top of the page and e-mail with any questions. Thanks!