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.