Claris’s Plans for FileMaker Bode Well for Individual Users
I’m not deep into the FileMaker development community, but some announcements from Apple subsidiary Claris a few months ago generated quite a bit of interest on TidBITS Talk and should be coming to fruition in the next few months. These changes may be particularly interesting if you have a long history of using FileMaker for personal projects, something that has been tricky to maintain and justify as Claris has priced FileMaker to match its focus on professional developers.
Claris will rename FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go (for deploying FileMaker apps on the iPhone and iPad), and FileMaker Server (for hosting multi-user FileMaker apps) to Claris Pro, Claris Go, and Claris Server. A new Web-based development environment called Claris Studio will join and integrate with the other products to provide a modern, cloud-based system. Claris Studio can—among much else—host public-facing forms that pipe data from anonymous Web users into Claris Pro and create tables, graphs, and dashboards using data from Claris Pro.
The more important change for longtime individual FileMaker users is that there will be a freemium version of Claris Pro with free access to Claris Studio (and presumably Claris Go). Its only restriction is that databases created with the freemium version are restricted to a single user—but there are no size or time constraints. The apps are also free for professional developers, who will pay a single, as-yet-unspecified Claris Platform licensing fee only when they wish to deploy a solution to additional users. Since Claris is wholly owned by Apple, deployment could even mean putting an app on the Mac App Store. Those with existing licenses can continue to rely on them but won’t get access to Claris Studio without switching to a Claris Platform subscription.
Claris promised that all of this would start to be available “this fall,” so we should soon be able to see if the freemium model provides the capabilities needed by those who have relied on single-user licenses of FileMaker Pro for years. Signs are good that it will, but it’s never helpful to make too many plans based on pre-release software.
Any idea if the new freemium Claris Pro will import old Bento databases? I still use Bento in Mojave but one of these days that will need to end, I’m afraid.
For the free, individual copies of the software:
–Will the database be local on the user’s Mac, or based in the cloud (I assume iCloud)?
For that matter, will the programs all be “web based” (as per the article for Claris Studio) or will individual copies be installed on the user’s computer?
–Will the new software be compatible with existing Filemaker applications, or must old FM applications be “recompiled” using Claris Pro/Studio?
–Relatedly, will the programming “language” of Claris Pro be significantly different than Filemaker Pro?
Obviously, there’s no way to know for sure, but from what I took away from the video:
Claris Pro is FileMaker Pro with a new name. There’s no reason to think it has become cloud-based, and at least at one point, they said the word “on-prem,” meaning “on premises,” so at least not in Claris’s cloud.
They made a big point about how they don’t want to break existing solutions and are putting a lot of effort into that.
The previous answer suggests that they wouldn’t be changing things in a big way because that would break existing solutions and force developers to relearn things.
From what I could tell, there is only one version of Claris Pro, and it will be free for everyone. Developers will have to pay when they deploy and want to open things up to more users.
Definitely an interesting strategic move. It brings back memories of my first forays into web development using FileMaker Pro 3 as a backend for a website using ROFM CGI. Then they introduced CDML and built support for it into Claris HomePage. It was my introduction to database-driven websites and my bread and butter for several years until I began to work with SQL databases and PHP.
No idea about Claris Pro, but TapForms imports Bento databases, and it also fulfils the promise of what I hoped Bento would be! It’s well designed, and doesn’t suffer from various awkward limitations I found in Bento where it couldn’t quite do what I wanted. Yet it’s not overly complex or difficult to use. The developer is continually improving TapForms and is very responsive. He recently helped me import an old Bento database that I hadn’t properly exported and suddenly found I needed. TapForms will even import custom form layouts from .bentoTemplate files.
Thanks for the tip, Jolin. (I see, as a bonus, that it’s by a Canadian developer!) I am checking it out right now. Thanks again.
TapForms is an amazing program. I use it for everything from keeping track of medical data and daily logs, such as insulin daily counts, to having used it for a massive database for several conferences I was presenting which included registrations, break-out group selections and ability to create mail labels from registrations - and I used the relational database function for the latter. Also keep my fountain pen collection complete with photos on it. Highly recommend it and yes, the developer is great in support needs.
This is unbelievably good news for me. I’ve been using FM for a couple of decades to database my books and boardgames, and have always begrudged paying their high upgrade prices when I use them for such a simple task, but I created custom-designed databases a long time ago and didn’t want to change. Free personal use would be incredibly welcome - and get the software out to a lot more people. Someone new and very smart must have been put in control of Claris!
Does anyone know if this also applies to the Windows version of FileMaker?
Thanks for mentioning this! This looks like the perfect solution for saving the plant database my wife had made in Bento. Might have to explore this for the winter project of a home inventory, as well.
I don’t see any mention of Windows in the video transcript, but it would make sense to me that it would match the Mac side.
Was thrilled when I read Article title) but I’m confused.
I don’t really care what they call it -‘Identity Confusion’ might be apropriate The only thing that matters to me is that I can “share” a database with myself on my LOCAL network:
I usually buy a copy for my desktop (FM Advanced) and 1 for my laptop . this way I open a DB which is shared from my desktop on my laptop or through FMGo on iOS devices. (thus avoiding redundant data – or endless transfer of data).
I re-read article a few times, but couldn’t figure out if this type of sharing would still be possible.
Lastly, Frankly don’t need (or want Cloud based) prefer to keep files local (thus allowing much more direct control, with local backups.
They had a webinar today where something was explained in more detail.
The FileMaker Pro product is not being renamed. Instead, there is an additional product called “Claris Pro” that will be the same as “FileMaker Pro”, but with the added capability of being able to directly reference their Claris Studio platform’s data sources.
I’ll also testify for Tap Forms. I had a very important custom Bento database for tracking the expenditures for a historic rehabilitation tax credit program that I would need to keep for the 10 years to take the credit, plus seven for possible audit. The Bento demise certainly caught me by surprise. Tap Forms brought it all over seamlessly and seeing the program continue to be supported is of course, reassuring! Now I’m on to a second rehab project, and it’s continued to meet the need.
Thanks for this. I found the precise reference:
There are two versions of the product: FileMaker Pro and Claris Pro. Fundamentally, they do exactly the same thing. The major difference between the two is that Claris Pro allows logging in with a Claris Studio ID, whereas FileMaker Pro does not. So if you want to use Claris Studio, you have to use Claris Pro. Otherwise, you can use FileMaker Pro.
Thanks, but this begs even more questions:
The announcement said Claris Pro (which I’ll call CP) will be free for single-user use. If it’s a different product from FileMaker Pro, does that mean FMP will or will not be following the same license model?
If the only practical difference between FMP and CP is access to Claris Studio, it seems kind of strange to sell them as separate products, instead of one product with an optional feature that requires a paid-up license or subscription. For a user who doesn’t need Claris Studio, is there any reason to prefer one product over the other? Pricing, perhaps?
If FMP doesn’t go free, is there any reason to not use CP? Will CP be able to open all the same database files? Once CP works on a file, will the result still be usable by an FMP installation? If they drop the free tier of CP in the future, will I still be able to use my databases in FMP? Or will I be forever stuck using a potentially higher-tier product than I require?
I suppose we’ll learn all about this when the products finally ship.
Yeah, I find all this information coming out in webinars to be quite odd and confusing. We need a document that lays it all out for real.
Confusion abounds. Here’s a screen shot of some marketing material I received from Claris on 30 August:
Gah! Maybe email this person and ask them to clarify what’s going on with Claris Pro and all that? Might be amusing to see what they say anyway.
I’m feeling really skeptical about this when a months-old video is the sole source. You would think there would be a more concrete announcement.
As a long-time FileMaker developer, I have to say it’s not unusual for the information released by the company to be confusing. But maybe I can help:
The tech stack for the FileMaker platform continues to include the Draco database engine, the scripting engine and the interface management tools. The codebase for FileMaker Pro and Claris Pro is going to be exactly the same, but I believe integration with Claris Studio will be enabled in Claris Pro using a connector (same as ODBC). Claris Studio is making use of custom web authoring tools and MongoDB and is undergoing MASSIVE development to be ready for prime time - it’s in private beta right now, and the feature set growth in the last six months has been satisfying.
Historically, FileMaker/Claris has always had trouble with defining and implementing licensing changes. The backlash has been so strong that some customers have grandfathered license plans going back more than a decade, which adds to the company’s problem. I think this Claris re-branding is at least partially an attempt to create a clean break on the licensing side of things; the industry (and parent company Apple!) is using metrics of monthly active users and a new subscription model would make it far easier for Claris to generate that information.
The decision to change the company name to FileMaker back in the day made sense when Claris was forced by Apple to stop work on all the other products (rumour has it that FileMaker Pro remained by the skin of its teeth because of the revenue it generated) and it makes sense to have the company and product names be the same thing. The company changing back to Claris… well, the CEO has his reasons and spoke about them publicly (Introducing Claris International Inc.). And the FileMaker name, while it has history, means very little to people who encounter it for the first time - one developer acquaintance of mine was aghast that the company didn’t rebrand to “AppMaker” before Google came out with its product of that name, after spending a lot of time in the developer community talking about using the platform to develop “apps” rather than “databases.”
To answer some of the specific questions above:
@mike_vlasman Transferring data from Bento into FileMaker needs a special tool (ClarisPKB) but should be possible for many years to come. The last time FileMaker changed file formats was in 2012 and to this day the Pro app will convert the previous file format to the current one.
@mark4 As with the present release, files can be stored locally (Mac/Windows/iOS) or hosted by FileMaker/Claris Server on whatever machine you choose (Mac/Windows/Linux) - you can buy special hosting from Claris, FileMaker/Claris Cloud, that is deployed on AWS. The client software will continue to be installed on the user device; Claris Studio is a hybrid beast but since it uses MongoDB there will supposedly be no restrictions on where that can be hosted - the client is web-based so theoretically you could do that on your own machine.
Your second comment relates to FileMaker Server and the email from Claris isn’t including some pertinent information. Again, their licensing configuration is, uh, troubled. Claris wants you to buy user licenses, but historically they also sold FMS as a separate product, then they thought they should bundle things and now everyone is scratching their heads. I’ll try and clarify this but I’m not an expert on their licensing so don’t take this as gospel: when you have a licensing agreement with Claris that includes FileMaker Server, you automatically get access to the client software on your Software Downloads page (Pro is the only thing you’d care about, since Go is free and WebDirect means using a web browser). The actual cost of this setup is dependent on the number of users; once you have 5 or more there’s a different licensing agreement and all the software is included. You get a lot of benefits from the FMS software but the price is steep for a non-commercial setup.
head: There is no question that a lot of very smart people work at Claris; what has impressed me is the willingness to try new approaches and change what isn’t working. There have been stumbles over the past five years or so, but the course corrections have been noticeable and almost exclusively for the better. The developer community has been noting with concern the average age of the membership (as have Claris) and the freemium model has been an obvious option for more than a decade - Claris have made some user- and developer-hostile moves in that area but this new approach has a lot of us excited.
davidbauguess: I can confirm that the Windows version will be affected by this change. As with a lot of software these days, Claris is treating its products more as a service and it therefore is doing its best to create a uniform experience for users of all platforms (Android being the exception, for obvious reasons).
alixLC: Peer-to-peer sharing has been deprecated as of FileMaker 19 (ClarisPKB), released about two years ago. Deprecated features can hang around for a while but my approach would be to investigate alternatives starting now - perhaps keeping your desktop as the one true database and using your other devices to remote desktop into it when required? This article (Claris Community (English)) and others on the community forum can offer some assistance.
Shamino: As I said above, licensing has not been Claris’ strong point and I think a significant goal on their part is to solve their issues on this point. The future is cloudy on that aspect of the announcement, but I can say that Claris representatives have confirmed that FileMaker Pro and Claris Pro are the same product on a technical basis and will share the same unchanged .fmp12 file format so there will be no issue opening the files with either application.
silbey: FileMaker is at least being more open than it used to be. Time was, you’d have to spend time and money on attending the official developer conference to learn about this stuff and now everything (including developer-centric information) is on YouTube. This situation is also a result of the rapid development being undertaken on Claris Studio and the policies of parent company Apple. Nobody outside Claris knows what exactly is going to ship; all I can tell you is that the developer community is looking at this very positively.
There’s more I can add, but I’ve spent a lot of time on this already so I’ll stop for now. Happy to keep the conversation going.
Thanks, Unhinged, for the great exposition on some of the background concerns re. the FMP->Claris evolution.
As a fellow FileMaker developer from way back and still active, Unhinged has encapsulated the situation with great clarity, something Claris needs to work on… Actually, what are we going to call ourselves now? Claris developers? Sounds very odd still.
The current advice is to call ourselves “Claris FileMaker” developers, no doubt with the expectation that over time we will become “Claris” developers. Perhaps “Claris” application developers? “Claris Problem Solvers”?
There’s been a general trend to try and de-emphasise the technology stack being used, and have the tool allow us to just build apps without the end user needing to care about what’s under the hood. I think the issue you’ve raised will continue to be with us for quite some time.
For anyone who wants to get the latest info directly from Claris, they are hosting a webinar tomorrow. Sign up info is available at:
This is actually exciting. I was assuming they’d announce that Filemaker was going into a browser-only experience, killing 25+ years of Applescripts and similar other tools. Fingers crossed that this will allow us to upgrade our old databases (currently FM16).
All this technical jargon leaves me in the dust. I WAS a longtime Filemaker Pro user, only because a consultant said that I needed it to create a custom database (for client contacts) that he insisted was best for my needs. In hindsight, from the minimal way I used it, it was serious overkill. When I was finally obliged to jump from MacOS Snow Leopard to Monterey, I couldn’t update my FMPro database without paying some $500 for a subscription to Claris’ latest “solution,” which I couldn’t afford. I was told that the only other option was to export my old FM database to an Excel spreadsheet, which is totally unsatisfactory. Does this news mean that Claris will be introducing something that will allow me to affordably update my old FMPro database to something I can use on my new MacBook Pro? Please & thanks!
FMPro can export to a variety of standard formats, not just Excel:
If you want to export your data in a way that can be easily imported into another database app, I recommend using XML, since that seems best able to preserve a database’s schema.
If the destination database can’t import XML, then I would suggest comma-separated values or DBF, and be prepared to run some macros/scripts over the result in order to deal with some of FMP’s capabilities (e.g. multi-value fields, fields that are selections from lists, etc.) that don’t translate well to those formats. Check with the importing app to see what will be compatible.
If the receiving app supports importing from ODBC, you can set up FMP as an ODBC data source and serve the records that way.
The only real problem (at least for me) is that embedded media (that is, container fields used to store images, audio or video) can’t be exported to any format. You’ll have to jump through some hoops to transfer them (assuming your destination database also supports them, of course). I assume you’ll need something like an AppleScript that can walk through one database, locate the corresponding record in the other, copy the media object from one and paste to the other. Definitely doable, but not something you should expect to find built-in to any database app.
That’s what it seems like at the moment, but nothing is clear to me. My opinion is “I’ll believe it when I see it”.
Once they actually release that free-for-single-user version of Claris Pro, then we’ll be able to find out exactly what it is, what the license terms are, and if it will be able to import FMP databases without mangling anything.
To the point that I understood it, VERY helpful reply. Thanks, David. Yes, I’m hoping that with whatever Claris releases, I’ll be able to simply update my old FMPro database into the new Claris thing, and use it like I did before. Now retired, I have no need for anything more sophisticated than that; just want to be able to view my FMPro address book as I did in the past.
Again, thank you!
You can also investigate using the free FileMaker Go client on an iPad. It doesn’t allow you to do any development work, but for just accessing the data it’s a great option. With Apple’s recent efforts to allow iOS apps to work on macOS, it may be something you can eventually use on a desktop or laptop.
File backups are more convoluted on an iOS device, but if the data rarely changes the inconvenience factor won’t be too high.
Thank you…I’ll check it out!
Adam has encouraged me to share some further thoughts here from a separate conversation I had with him. So, with the understanding that what follows is almost entirely speculation and personal opinion (and trying not to share anything I learned under NDA conditions):
Claris have known for at least a decade that they needed a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the changes happening in the industry and the growing average age of their developer base. Internally they were comparing themselves to Adobe as a way to measure their market relevance and performance, then they started looking at AirTable and similar startups and noted (along with Apple) that they did not compare well in terms of attention (and presumably market capitalisation, although as a subsidiary of Apple I don’t know how that calculation was performed).
CEO, Brad Freitag, initially joined the company in (I think) 2013 as VP of Marketing. I’ve met him in person, and he’s the right man for the job - committed, capable and clever. He previously worked at Oracle, and I think that experience added some momentum to FileMaker’s push to grab more of the enterprise market. They started talking about “Low Code and No Code” tools and giving us developers information about there being a shortfall in the supply of software developers relative to the demand from businesses for custom tools to automate their processes and take advantage of the data they already collect to improve their efficiency.
Around 2015 folks started talking about “the API economy” and Claris gave us the Insert from URL script step, which they quickly enhanced to essentially be a front end to the cURL library, and boy that went down well with a lot of devs - suddenly we could integrate with web services like any other software client. That’s the point where FileMaker became a platform that could build fairly comprehensive applications rather than just being “a database” app. Great move, high fives all round.
Integrating with APIs, however, can be a substantial amount of work no matter what your development tools. One obvious approach is to solve that integration problem with one central system that handles the worst of the configuration details and provides a more uniform interface that is much easier to work with; Claris ended up buying a startup that had this technology and rebranded it as Claris Connect (around 2019). The pricing of this service remains contentious, but there are some in the developer community who insist that the value is there - much like the FileMaker app, you pay a higher price for hosting and operations than some competing technologies, but your development time is drastically shorter; minutes rather than hours or days in the case of working with APIs.
But the pressure was always there to have an even better web presence. The WebDirect technology is unique in the industry; performance sucks compared to everything else but it’s “flick a switch” to implement and speed of development has value. A lot of people wanted to use it as part of a regular website so that it was easier to implement a form, implementing workarounds so that reliability was good enough for global access, and Claris for some reason decided in around 2017 that they would change their licensing to prevent that.
My personal opinion is that Claris had their long-term plan of the Connect approach in mind at this point. The technology didn’t exist, nor did the startup that they eventually bought, but they knew what they wanted and they expected to be able to implement that in some way. As an architectural and business approach - integrate with best-of-breed that’s already out there - this is not without merit, but they didn’t share their internal plans and a lot of people felt burned. Capturing data in a form is the original value proposition of FileMaker, it’s the soul of the product; handing that feature off to a web service somewhere (that probably requires its own subscription!) felt wrong at a very deep level.
I think the big factor is that Claris either didn’t understand or didn’t value what their existing customer base wanted: extend the capabilities of the existing product to make developing for the web easier/better/cheaper. Let the people who’ve been supporting the tool for decades leverage that investment to remain relevant in a changing world.
The approach they took was to chase the new customers - people who had data but didn’t know how to take advantage of it to improve their businesses (the days of being a product for end users have pretty much come to a close). Tap into the IT startup business model of $x per user per month that is an ongoing service people will get locked into. Cloud first architecture that supposedly scales to meet any user’s needs and tries to ignore the legislation and policies around the world that apply to where and how certain types of data must be stored. But, sure, we still support on-prem.
Needless to say, the approach they chose has not worked out. They brought in fresh people, who were very clever and know their stuff about cloud implementations but were woefully lacking in their experience with supporting a developer community through change or actually dealing with the many challenges of on-premise installations. Brad mandated that all relevant staff undertake the FileMaker Developer Certification process to promote understanding of what the community live with, which was another great move, but the problems Claris faced were largely those of direction rather than implementation.
I want to be very clear: Claris have done a lot of things right over the past decade. I, and others in the developer community, are very impressed not only with the technical achievements but the willingness of the executive team to acknowledge mistakes and make changes that support what the existing customers want while still trying to drive growth. They face a massive challenge and they are working their backsides off to overcome it.
While the new Claris Studio product is still under development and we don’t know how it will pan out, I reiterate that a lot of us in the developer community are excited by it. Not just because we will finally have something that we can put out there as a standard web solution but because Claris is making what appear to be reasonable changes to their licensing and the expectation is that this will bring new users to the platform. I don’t know when the new stuff will be publicly available (my guess is late November or early December of this year), but I can hardly wait.
Interesting read - far more informative than the gab-fest Claris ran on Youtube this week.
I turned it off after 25 minutes as it just seems like a bunch of executives talking about themselves - very poor attempt at explaining and marketing (and this is from someone who’s been a Filemaker developer since V3).
It’s been clear for a number of years the end user was no longer a target - the price was just too high. The changes they’re suggesting should have a solid uptick of users and that’s from where the developers will come.
Yes, the company’s official announcements are now coloured quite heavily by Apple media training.
Once again, excellent stuff. Thanks!
Well. Having consumed a bunch of information over the past few days about what is now the new public release, I am more confused than ever. Some of the implementation details have changed, for mostly-understandable reasons, but in my opinion Claris should have kept Studio in developer beta for a lot longer.
Trying my best for a quick summary:
If you’re wanting more details, you can watch Claris FileMaker Product Launch - with Richard Carlton and Rick Kalman - YouTube for a relatively straight-forward interview between Richard Carlton (a major, successful FM developer) and Rick Kalman (Director of Product Management at Claris). There’s more out there, including official Claris stuff, but in my opinion this YouTube video is the best bang for your buck.
Slightly off topic from a new release, but I worked with FMP in the way past (think, small Mac screen) and would like to dabble in it in my retirement, but have found locating resources for re-teaching me very difficult to find. FMP community has always seemed protective, and when I go looking for a sample database (I learn best by example and then drilling into the workings of the file), I am frequently presented with “Just fill out all your information and I will send you a copy”. And then when I use a @mac.com or @gmail.com address, it refuses and wants my “work email”.
I would love to find a place to get info (FMP help site is very tedious and overly detailed) on the basics of FMP and building simple relationships. I can visualize what I want, I just can’t seem to build it.
There’s a bunch of free videos on YouTube - my personal recommendation is to make use of the resources offered by Richard Carlton at https://fmtraining.tv where the material is practical and covers a range of experience levels. The livestream videos can be watched directly on YouTube or you can download a FileMaker database that holds a list of links to the videos hosted on Vimeo (you’ll need to provide your contact details to download this Video Player file, but in several years I’ve never been directly approached for a sales conversation, it’s just a mailing list with a general message about the benefits of being a paid subscriber). The sample files range from the full “FM Starting Point” CRM (free, but again you’ll need to provide contact details and will be added to the mailing list) to some technique-specific files for more esoteric or specialised approaches.
If your budget extends to the paid subscription, it is absolutely worth the money. The same is true for Matt Petrowsky’s https://filemakermagazine.com but that caters more to experienced developers. Other great resources to explore once you’re feeling comfortable with the basics include Kevin Frank’s https://filemakerhacks.com, Daniel Wood’s “Weetbicks” blog (Team DF and Weetbicks blogs and news), Vince Mennano and the team at https://blog.beezwax.net, the amazing crew at Soliant (Software Development Best Practices from Top Developers) and the insightful Proof+Geist (Recent Blogs | Proof+Geist). There are many more I could mention, but I have trouble finding the time to keep up with even this short list.
DM me here at TBT if you want more of a discussion.
Join the club.
The Claris Community is actually very good. There are a number of people who are very active and generally pretty quick to respond. Claris completely rebuilt the site a while back and it was a painful transition from the old one, which contained so much useful info. I tend to search with Google as it seems to be better at finding relevant threads than the Community itself, which is somewhat ironic. There are other resources too as ‘unhinged’ mentioned. One I’ve found really useful, but sadly is no longer maintained, so it’s a bit wobbly, but still there, is John Mark Osborne’s - Philosophy of Filemaker. Some really useful stuff, well explained.
If you want to explore the capabilities of Claris Studio check the other posts from DB Services concerning Claris Studio : Learning FileMaker | Scoop.it
Just remember that it’s a work in progress and that Claris developers are moving forward rapidly …
Any news on freemium Claris Pro?
I see Claris Pro product pages now on the Claris website, but nothing about acquiring Claris Pro except as part of the Claris Platform Bundle.
@mschmitt This will tell you where to go to be the first to know: On the path to freemium - Corporate Announcements - the.fmsoup.org - Independent FileMaker Forum. Help, Discussions & Answers for Developers and Users
I also recommend fmsoup for everything related to Claris, but I am obviously biased.
Current expectation is early next year for the release.
I’m in a bind. I have been using version 12 of FileMaker Pro for years and earlier versions leading up to that. I only have two uses for it, both databases are stored locally: a contact list used once a year for a special USPS mailing and an inventory of my lapel button collection.
I upgraded my OS to Ventura the other day and now I cannot open my version of the app.
At the moment it seems that my options are
A. wait and not use the application until the new Claris Pro becomes available (“early next year”),
B. get a 45-day free trial and hope that it will carry me over till the new version becomes available,
C. get “Essentials at US$21 per user/month billed annually”… though I probably only want it for 1 month till the new version becomes available (it’s not clear if I can cancel after 1 month and get a refund),
D. buy a single-user license for US$594.00 (!).
Can anyone offer any clarity on this situation?
Look for a cheap, older MacBook Air, iMac or Mac Mini. Down here in Aus you could get an old Mini or iMac for $100. It would be cheaper than buying the app. I’m not sure of the status of virtual machines on Ventura (I don’t use them) but this could be another option.
If you have a bootable clone you could use that on the rare times you need to FMP.
If I were you, I would wait it out. If by the time you need to do the USPS mailing, the freemium version is not available, get the trial and use that. I would wait until freemium is available for everything else (under the assumption there is no emergency to access your lapel button collection file).
Sounds like you got bit by what I did when I upgraded my Mac from a 2011 mini running Sierra to a 2018 mini running Catalina. Starting with macOS 10.15 (Catalina), support for 32-bit apps was dropped - everything must be 64-bit.
FileMaker Pro switched from 32-bit to 64-bit with version 16, so all older versions stopped working after Catalina. In my case, it was version 11 that stopped working.
I paid the $594 for version 19 (two years ago), with the expectation that it will last long enough that the overall per-year cost won’t be too horrible. My guesstimate/hope is that it will work until Apple drops Rosetta from Apple Silicon macOS, at which point I’ll need to buy an ARM build of FM.
(You may want to skip the next two paragraphs, which explain the logic I’m hoping will prove to be true)
If you don’t want to bet on my assumption proving to be true, another option is to buy an older version that may cost less. There are some sellers on-line selling FMP 16 license keys for a much more reasonable price. Just be sure to do your homework and check out the seller’s reputation, since you don’t want to pay a scammer for a license key that is bogus, reused or counterfeit.
I see that Amazon is selling version 19 for $540. Still pricey, but a $54 discount isn’t insignificant either. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088V1DZBL
If you or someone in your household is a full-time student or works for a school or a non-profit organization, you may qualify for educational pricing. Claris Store. Amazon sells the educational edition for $324 (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088TZ2G6F), but I don’t know what kind of proof may be required to install what you buy, or if you’re on your honor to not cheat. (Please don’t cheat - when people do that, companies get more draconian, making life more difficult for students who need these discounts.)
You could also install a 32-bit compatible version of macOS in a VM (10.14 “Mojave” or older) and run your existing copy of version 12 in it.
You might also want to check out FileMaker Training | Beginner to Advanced Users | Video Training for Learning and Solving Problems - the training is US$199 p.a. but for US$100 more they will include a license for FileMaker Pro. No need to renew after the first year; by that time the “free” version of Claris Pro should be available and you will probably have watched all of the training content you’re interested in.
The training is, in my opinion, very good. Some is about programming in FileMaker, some is about programming in general and some is about how FileMaker helps run businesses.
Andy LaCates of Claris joined the Filemaker Developers of S. California for a zoom meeting on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022 which was recorded. I was very impressed by Andy’s responses to questions about what is coming up for Filemaker. The video is available on YouTube:
Does anyone know if the freemium version could be a viable runtime alternative? Could individual users get a freemium license and could I distribute a database to them? It would have to be a relatively low-tech setup or something that could be scripted.
I’m still using FM18 for runtimes, but unless something like this is workable I’m going to completely abandon Filemaker. Right now B4J is looking like one of the better alternatives.
I don’t see why not, provided it’s a single user database.
What is “B4J”?
The desktop version of B4X.
I was wondering why Filemaker is so darn expensive. I’m hoping their free version doesn’t take away too many options and makes it worthless.
Once upon a time, there were three products: FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Pro Advanced, and FileMaker Pro Advanced Server. Pro was the base product. Advanced adds robust scripting and debugging support for making standalone applications, at a higher price. Server adds the ability to access these apps remotely across a network, at an even higher price
In 2018, with the release of version 17, they decided to eliminate the Pro version. So now the smallest version you can buy today is Pro Advanced (which has been renamed to just “Pro”), at that product’s high price.
As for the new free version, what’s been said so far sounds good, but we won’t know until it ships and people have a chance to try and review it.
I happen to get 17 - 2 for the price of 1 (about $350). I’m hoping it works with Ventura as I’m thinking of upgrading from Monterey.
It’s been my experience that the basic desktop features (managing locally-stored databases) works fine as long as your Mac is capable of running the executable at all. Although old versions are not supported and (I’ve been told) that some of the network/sharing features of older versions may not work, my experience is that there really isn’t much problem.
I ran version 4 (I think) on a Mac Quadra (68040) and my PowerMac G4. I upgraded to version 6 when it came out because I wanted a newer version. I kept on running that version until I got my first Intel Mac and was forced to upgrade (macOS 10.7 dropped support for PowerPC apps). Then I bought version 11 and used it until I got a Mac running macOS 10.15 (Catalina dropped support for 32-bit apps). Then I bought version 19. which I’m running today.
Although I haven’t tried version 17, I would expect it to work, as long as you have a valid license key. If history means anything, the most important features should continue running great until Apple drops support for Intel apps. I have no idea when this will be, but I am speculating that this will be some time in the 2024-2026 timeframe. (see above)
Does anyone here have any updated information about the release date for the “freemium” version of Claris Pro? The last date I saw mentioned was “early next year”.
In their latest webinar Claris said that it’s in the testing phase and will be “more widely available in the coming months.”
To me - and I emphasise that this is only my opinion - this means that it’s being checked out by some of the Platinum level developer partners and will have a phased rollout across the world with the US market being the first; I’d expect an announcement on March 1.
The only officially supported version on macOS Ventura is FileMaker v19.6 - folks on the community forum have reported odd interface glitches with earlier 19.x releases but I’m not aware of any specifics regarding v17.x so you’d be in uncharted territory.
Remember that the FileMaker Pro application crashing means that the database files are left in an unfinished state, which could mean corruption (even if not immediately visible). If you’re working with local files, especially with an unsupported version, it’s good to get into the habit of making a backup copy of any files before you open them with FileMaker Pro. That way, if it does crash and the files do get corrupted you’ve only lost the current day’s work.
I’ve just re-watched the webinar (Claris Update Webinar - Jan 25 - YouTube) and noticed that Brad announced that new pricing will be released at the end of next month (i.e. end of March 2023). So that’s a bit more concrete.
@harriska2 I run FMP 16 in Ventura and it’s rock-solid.
Thanks for thank. Just upgraded to ventura. Have fmp 17.
Guess I can now get the free trial version then convert to the free version. For those that have some FM & web experience, I did a pretty involved app with FMP 4 twenty years ago (cub scout popcorn for the whole pack, kept track of each scout, den totals by case and loose box for each type, pack totals by case, prizes (did they sell enough for prize), even kept track of whole pack extra sales not used for individual prizes so pack could order even more prizes, checks & cash (each denomination) to make bank deposit, fax order to council via case totals and prize totals).
Fast forward to now: I need a web page for people to enter in some text fields, then up load a photo from a cell phone. Would that really be hard or from my previous experience be able to knock that out quickly. My problem is will it be hacker proof, as I am VERY certain it will be hacked professionally, even from out of state, as it is signing a recall petition for a city elected official. Plus if city clerk will play along and if we send them name and address they can give a thumbs up if a registered voter so we can track valid signature totals. Of course back up database to off site, so often or so many signers. I have to collect 40,000 signatures. Want to force a slow entry of data in text fields so computers can’t sign up thousands quickly with bogus data, or only allow so many per IP address.
I doubt your experience/expertise would be an issue but as it’s not entirely clear what the free version will allow, I’d be guessing web publishing wouldn’t be included.
Whilst I haven’t been keeping a close eye on their videos and announcements, I’m basing this on them saying it will be single user only and won’t allow sharing of the database. I may well be wrong but I suspect you’d need Filemaker Server.
I don’t know if you require users to provide any authentication to enter data, but I think you’d be better off looking at something like Google Forms on the free/low-end or a cloud hosted database like Airtable.
I’m currently using version 18 (and 19) on a MacBook Pro M2 running Ventura, and it works fairly well. Maybe some unexpected crashes.
I definitely know that folks using version 17 on macOS Monterey were getting crashes while using Preview Mode in FileMaker for some layouts, and sometimes while printing (even without previewing first). Another used crashed intermittently when trying to do a Find (version 18 on Monterey).
So, while those versions DO run, you are probably increasing the likelihood of crashing the client. As someone else mentioned, if you do while using a local copy of a database (not hosted on Server), you could potentially corrupt the file. The corruption might not be immediately obvious, but introduce damage that doesn’t show symptoms until weeks or months later.
So, if you want to take chances, you can. There are cases where the trade-off is arguably worth it.
You can minimize risk by creating a backup copy of your file prior to running your database. Keep these backups for a period of time then you’ll have a collection of “versioned” backups. There’s any number of ways to automate this process. (response intended for OP)
A FileMaker database can specify a script that runs when the database is opened. The script can save a backup of the database file.
I would not use an FM script to produce a reliable backup because the program has to be running, and backups should be made when the db is known to be fully at rest. I’d use AppleScript, a shell script, or a utility such as ChronoSync. But yes…the option exists to do it within FM, and you could probably code in a “safety latch” that prevents the db from loading into FM until the backup is complete…as I said, there are “any number” of ways to automate the backup process.
@mark4 I agree 3rd party utilities like you describe (AppleScript, a shell script, ChronoSync, etc.) need to target your database file(s) when they are closed.
If someone what to use a FileMaker script to control such a utility and have it target the same file the script runs from, that would indeed be a problem.
That said, someone could also write a script using the
Save a Copy asscript step, something that relies on the native menu option of the same name, that can only be used on an open file and that I can only trust works without the problems you mention.
Otherwise, this would equate to saying we should not trust the native menu that lets us save copies of the running file, and I don’t have a reason to think that should be the case.
yeah–I’m starting to rethink this along the lines @bob_stern and you have brought up…an internal script would definitely be more convenient but care needs to be taken. Thanks for the comments!
For many years, I have used the linked Filemaker script (which includes a demo file) to make a backup of an invoicing app on startup and another backup when closing the file.
Received email from Claris today (in typical Claris form: mangled and more than halfway unreadable using mail.app), regarding “Claris Filemaker 2023”–which appears to be some sort of upgrade to v19 (though this is not clear), all the way down to price: $217, which is consistent with upgrade prices going back to at least FMPA 16. What happened to the free single user version? What’s going on?
If anyone has a clue, please post.
This is an about Claris releasing a new version of their FileMaker line of products (Pro, Server, Go).
The free single user version is for the Claris Platform, and has not been introduced yet. For those who want to be notified about it, they can use this online form to signup and receive a notification when it will be made available: Be the first to try a new way to solve problems.
FWIW, I signed up probably six months ago. I began receiving 3-4 advertising emails a week from Claris. So I unsubscribed. I figured I’d hear about it quickly enough here on TidBITS Talk. But this is becoming the longest preannouncement-to-announcement gap I can ever recall.
Yeah–I would expect something more than just sending announcements to people who sign up…one would expect some significant announcement? Anyway, Claris has been consistently sending completely unreadable email to me for a few years now. I have no idea what they’re doing. And BTW, per their website, the “upgrade” to the individual copy of FMP, called Filemaker Pro 2023 (that costs $217) appears to offer almost no discernible benefits as an upgrade to Filemaker Pro 19.
Sad. I hope that whatever Claris finally releases whenever maintains FMP as a relevant database development tool. There is simply no viable replacement anywhere.
Checking Claris site now there is a 45 day free trial of Claris Pro, after that full package is $595. There is non-profit and education pricing, but didn’t see the price. Seems you can get a cloud ‘essentials’ package for sharing for up to three apps, 10 users for $21/month.
Not seeing the free package.
I did a rather complicated app in FMP 4, not really had a need since, til now. I guess I’ll just fire up the FMP 6 on Ti PB, and do it there. It’s a small project. This is pretty sad to get everyone’s hopes up, then nothing.
There is upgrade pricing available (as there has been up to Filemaker Pro 19): $356 for the single user/single license version of “Claris Filemaker Pro 2023.” Here is a copy/paste of eligible version info:
“You can upgrade the product only if you already own a copy of FileMaker Pro Advanced versions 16, 17, or 18; or FileMaker Pro 16 or 19. You can’t install this product if your copy of FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Pro Advanced is part of a volume license.”
I believe the updates used to cost $299 IIRC. Still a fairly generous upgrade path (for Claris–though this contradicts what I posted a month ago on upgrade pricing). Question is, is the upgrade worth it? I’ve been buying updates every 2nd or 3rd version since v11–looks like that might continue. The feature set for what is now otherwise known as “Filemaker Pro 20.1.1” looks a little thin:
“FileMaker Pro Release Notes”
But none of this addresses what was discussed earlier in this thread (can’t say Claris “promised” anything because I don’t think any Claris reps posted here).
That’s only if you have have FMP 16 or better, I do not as implied, my last version is 6.
Wow. So I’d be paying $658 plus tax just to keep my two FM Pro 16 at home in working order. Those two copies still work on Apple Silicon and Monterey/Ventura right now. But considering 16 is the last version mentioned in that upgrade offer, I suppose that means this is the one to get if I want to future-proof my home licenses. Argh.
Yeah–that’s kinda why I copied and pasted the exact upgrade requirements directly from the Claris site.
In the past, Claris has stated when the earliest required version would “expire” as being eligible for upgrading. I did not see this sort of statement for this new version but I also haven’t specifically looked for it. You might want to check on their site to see if they say when/if version 16 drops off the list of eligible upgrades, or maybe even just ask them.
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