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In regards to the announcement that FileMaker 17 for individuals now is $540...

My immediate response is a scream of frustration.

My current version of FileMaker is 32-bit, so I knew that I needed to upgrade. I've been waiting for a special deal on the price. Now the price is even higher than what was too much before.

I'm not developing a commercial application or for a team. I just want to run my small personal database. There's a reason I never bought FileMaker Advanced before; it is overkill.

But it seems that FileMaker no longer wants individual users. Also notice that FileMaker for individuals is now 315% more expensive than Microsoft Access. How can they justify this price?

It looks like I'm going to need to rewrite my database in another product. Panorama looks interesting, but it isn't cross-platform.
 
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To give an idea of how much the price of FileMaker has increased over the years, this is my actual purchase history, before taxes:

1997: FileMaker Pro 3 $95​
2003: FileMaker Pro 6 upgrade $138​
2012: FileMaker Pro 11 $149 (discount from normal $299 price)​
2012: FileMaker Pro 12 free upgrade​

Until this week the full price for FileMaker Pro 16 was $329. Now version 17 is $540.

This is crazy.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
To give an idea of how much the price of FileMaker has increased over the years, this is my actual purchase history, before taxes:
1997: FileMaker Pro 3 $95​
2003: FileMaker Pro 6 upgrade $138​
2012: FileMaker Pro 11 $149 (discount from normal $299 price)​
2012: FileMaker Pro 12 free upgrade​
Until this week the full price for FileMaker Pro 16 was $329. Now version 17 is $540.
This is crazy.
If my math is right, you've paid $382 over 20 years, which is $19.10/year. Doesn't sound very expensive to me, but I can see how the new price is a bit daunting if you can't amortize it over another 20+ years.

Since 2004, I've spent $952.17 for FileMaker 7, FileMaker Pro 9, FileMaker Go (never used), FileMaker Pro 11 (used heavily) and FileMaker Pro 16 (buy one, get one free) - $68/year.
 
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I’m an infrequent user of FileMaker, but have found it quick and easy to construct a database solution, and have also used it to make runtimes. I noted that these were going to be deprecated, so I upgraded to 16 and got the two for one deal. My runtimes are bespoke databases that I can’t think of any other way of doing, and the single or two users are on Windows.

What I don’t understand is why this application couldn’t be treated like FCP X or Logic; seen (currently) as important applications for the OS X platform and part of the App Store environment.

I tried Access and loved it as much as Publisher. Luckily neither of these dogs is available on OSX.
 
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Upgrades from FileMaker 14 or newer are $197.
I've used FileMaker Pro since version 2. Now you can only upgrade 3 versions back - this was a change introduced around FileMaker 9, if I remember correctly. So now I only jump every 2 or 3 versions, depending on requirements. I've done 7 > 10 > 12 > 14 and will now jump to 17. If they drop the 3 versions back upgrade or go to subscription only, it will be another dead product to me.
 
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I was a little more concerned about some of the deprecations and removals. They have deprecated support of EPS files and also the extremely useful 'Store only a reference to the file' option for container fields. Pretty much eliminates it for storing large quantities of images if they have to be stored in the main file.
 
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I had not caught this - thanks for the comment. I downloaded last night and made a quick run-through on my most important solution. (Most existing features seem to be unchanged.)

This solution is a very large database (c. 150,000 records) for a collection of photographic images. About 50,000 images have been scanned so far and are stored in a separate file. We have been working on this project for 16 years and have been using FileMaker since day one (FM 7?). The "Store only a reference to the file" is critical and very useful because the image file is huge (c. 350 GB). I had no problem importing the images to the solution by reference with v17.

We would like to put the solution with its images on the Internet using FileMaker Server. Supposedly FM Server of various flavors since FM 13 has had this capability. Versions 14-16 got serious about this. I have experimented with the various flavors without success, in spite of many hours with FM tech support with versions 13-15. The problem is uploading the images to FM Server - no problem with the solution itself. I was about to try with v16, but with the impending release of v17 decided to wait. Uploading images individually is not an acceptable method.

While our solution is somewhat different in detail from a prospective commercial application with a large database with images of product, uploading solutions with images to the Internet should be just as appealing to a commercial user. Uploading image files efficiently is critical. Why is FileMaker intending to eliminate "import by reference" capability? Will there be prospectively another efficient method?

In the past, since we are a non-profit, we could outright purchase either through TechSoup, and more recently directly with FileMaker at significantly lower cost. Now that FileMaker is pushing rental, our annual rental costs are affordable.
 
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I'm at FileMaker Pro 11. My database needs are incredibly simple (our computer consulting company used a pretty complex FM database for billing and keeping track of what each consultant did, but we are all retired now): I just need a database that allows for graphical design, since I design and print numbered tickets for non-profit organizations. The tickets (8 on a sheet) are printed twice: once with the artwork from Illustrator, and run through again for the numbers and client information. Without the database, I would have to put all that client and number information in the Illustrator file; with hundreds of tickets, that would be an awful lot of work changing each page.

Can any of the afore-mentioned substitutes handle specific placement on a page?
 
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It looks like I'm going to need to rewrite my database in another product. Panorama looks interesting, but it isn't cross-platform.
You might want to consider extracting your data store into a more common format, and then creating your front end in a RAD tool like Xojo or LiveCode.

The downside to tools like FM (and other historical tools) is that the UI and data aren't always separate, leading to possible situations when one is damaged, it takes the other down with it.

We introduced some UI tools in Valentina Studio Pro which allow the creation of forms and reports. Valentina Forms aren't as full-featured as you have in FM (or Xojo or LiveCode), but they don't need to be. When you store your data separately, it isn't all that hard to add a UI in whatever tool set you want.
 


My take on elimination of the FileMaker Pro (non-Advanced) is, they really want end users to be using either an iOS device or the Web to access the data; they see FileMaker App on Mac or Windows as mostly for development purposes -- so, they are selling it with that capability set, and at that price. Why they would want to discourage use of the native app is not clear, but this seems to be the case. They still give away a native app for iOS, but it does not permit development of any kind.

Given the substantial increase, they may have underestimated the extent to which this pricing model is going to be a turn-off to their most dedicated and long-term users. Other than that, the model mostly makes sense -- except that it is a disincentive to new users exploring the platform.

The silver lining in this new pricing is the elimination of the "FileMaker for Teams" concept, which was both unwieldy and unpopular, though it was a good deal for the right customer.

For the most part, the new pricing model is server-centric. You license the number of users you want to accommodate; each user gets assigned a slot. If you need anonymous users, they offer that, but the new pricing just says "contact sales," which I will eventually do; at the moment that price is opaque but at least we know it's possible. Previous statements about this option from FileMaker suggest that "concurrent user" licenses (non-assigned simultaneous users) will be expensive.

I commented the FAQ on the FM 17 web site to ask exactly what "deprecated" means in the context of the ability to create run times, and to my complete surprise I got both a phone call and an email to explain: FileMaker may discontinue the feature in a future version, but it is still included and supported in FileMaker 17. We should still be able to create self-running databases for Mac and Windows with full confidence, using this product.
 
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I was a little more concerned about some of the deprecations and removals. They have deprecated support of EPS files and also the extremely useful 'Store only a reference to the file' option for container fields. Pretty much eliminates it for storing large quantities of images if they have to be stored in the main file.
Actually the file storage is a huge improvement, overall. You don't have to store a copy in the database file, but a copy has to be stored 'by' the database, which guarantees that all users of the database can access the files it references. In the old 'Store only a reference' method, you could easily lose the access to the file by it being named/moved, and you always lost access if hosting the database, unless each computer had the same path/access to the referenced file.
 


1997: … FileMaker Pro 3 $95 …

Until this week the full price for FileMaker Pro 16 was $329. Now version 17 is $540.

This is crazy.
Curious to see just how crazy.
February 1997 FileMaker Pro list price was $199. That is $311.16 in March 2018 adjusted for inflation. So maybe $329 is not so crazy, but (again maybe) $540 is.

I notice that the $540 version 17 is the "Advanced" version. Version 16 had a plain-vanilla version at $320 and the Advanced version was $549. Don't know why there is no plain-vanilla 17. So…maybe we should complain that plain-vanilla was killed?

(Yes, it's a simplistic analysis. Amortization of upgrade prices over time, the value of a box, printed documentation, install media, etc., etc., etc. are an exercise for the reader.)

Price increases rankle me too, but the older I get, the more inflation takes its toll and the more I tend to forget that.
 
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About databases -

Long ago I programmed dBase II, so I "get" relational databases. For most of us they're overkill. They require careful design, often need to be professionally maintained and updated as data needs change, and even in the real heavy iron world of HAL where my wife designed and maintained them, they can break.

I once helped a church which was relying on a volunteer constructed Access database for its donor records. The volunteer disappeared at a very bad time in the fundraising cycle, leaving behind a bunch of disconnected tables. I surmise the volunteer intended to set up a GUI interface and had not gotten past the ongoing need to enter and report data manually. The "fail" was very serious, as many of the largest annual pledges were apparently not paid and the church administration was spending money as if they were.

I think most of us, and by that I mean individuals and smallish businesses, are best served by easily understood "flat files" that can be constructed in spreadsheets. There are a lot more people who understand and can use spreadsheets than can structure databases. Data in spreadsheets can usually be exported via .csv or other text and imported into other applications.

If your need is greater than a flat-file spreadsheet, you're probably better off finding a turnkey system than building your own. I recently provided input as a small historical museum moved from spreadsheets to a "standardized" curatorial package - at a surprisingly affordable cost.

KEXI
Is a community developed application, claimed to be an Access or FileMaker alternative, that's part of the KDE "environment." KDE is mostly associated with Linux, e.g., Kubuntu and the Plasma Desktop. If you want to give Kexi a try on Mac, I suggest installing KDE Neon in a VM. KDE Neon is a very minimal install that will bring with it the Plasma Desktop, KDE "dependencies," and not much more. You should be able to install KEXI into that VM to test. I've done that in VirtualBox in Linux Mint, not on a Mac. The Kexi website also offers a Windows version, if you have Windows installed or a Windows computer.

Link to the "KEXI Project"

BASE - Libre, Open, Neo
The Base module in Libre, Open, and Neo Office offers a lot of power. I found it a PIA, and after too much work on a "Fixed Assets" database, reverted to the Calc module. If I'm hit by a bus, my co-workers won't be left with a database they have no idea how to modify to create new fields, tables, forms, or reports.

If you want to learn about BASE and / or CALC, I can't say enough positive about the tutorials at:

Link to Tutorials at: The Frugal Computer Guy
 
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... The downside to tools like FM (and other historical tools) is that the UI and data aren't always separate, leading to possible situations when one is damaged, it takes the other down with it.
Many FileMaker developers use what's called the "Separation Model." One file has only data, the other has the GUI, scripts, value lists, et al.

A big benefit is that corruption in the programming file doesn't affect the data file. The Separation Model allows updates to the GUI to be made while server is running and many users are logged in. Companies that run 24/7 need this.

The downside is added complexity.
 
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I've been a FileMaker developer since version 3. I always update and I always buy the Advanced version. Below is what I've paid to upgrade from Advanced to Advanced (in USD).
  • 299.00 - 8
  • 99.00 - 8.5
  • 299.00 - 9
  • 299.00 - 10
  • 299.00 - 11
  • 299.00 - 12
  • 299.00 - 13
  • 329.00 - 15
  • 329.00 - 16
  • 197.00 - 17
I wonder if 17's lower upgrade price isn't because FileMaker has gone to a yearly release cycle like Apple. Perhaps developers complained about paying $329/yr.

Nitpicking: I couldn't buy the 17 upgrade using the latest version of Firefox, I had to use Safari.
 


The "cost of software" is an interesting (and, at times, inflammatory) topic, especially with the unstoppable trend towards subscription-based software. As someone who has worked in an Adobe-centric environment for the past few years, the Creative Cloud controversies have been front of mind in my world.

Late last year, in the midst of Adobe's yearly Lightroom updates and changes, I ended up writing a post over on Complete Digital Photography about the brouhaha that ensued: The "Cost" of Software (Lightroom redux).

The gist for me was that, while I get the issues (especially for the Lightroom user, who often isn't a professional user), I also need to get things done. So, for me, keeping current with the CC apps is important, and I pay the yearly subscription fee.

I have used FileMaker less frequently, but every once in a while, I'll pull it out and do some quick data manipulation. Recently, when I needed to build a quick database for a project, the four-year-old FileMaker Pro 13 wouldn't run on my High Sierra system, and I would have had to pay full freight to upgrade to version 16. I don't use FileMaker enough to justify paying that, so I ended up doing the project in Excel. I was ok with that.

I would have liked FileMaker 13 to keep running, but I understand why it didn't. However, I did install a demo version of FileMaker 16, and converted and exported the data from a few older databases that were important to me. (I'm grateful for companies that at least offer that type of option for preserving old files.)

The approach Provue is taking with Panorama X—payment based on actual usage—is an interesting take on subscription software, and I'll be intrigued to see how it goes for them. It certainly would have made my one-off database project easier in the context of a long-term, but mostly occasional, database user. I would have paid the $15 for that project quite happily. I would rather do that for those types of jobs than pay another subscription fee for something that is less crucial to my business.
 


...We would like to put the solution with its images on the Internet using FileMaker Server....
FileMaker Server, since version 15 (I believe) has had the option to store container data in a separate folder. This means that all of that data is not being backed up whenever FileMaker Server backs up your databases. This data is not treated as a reference, but as if the file is directly within the container field.
 


FileMaker Server, since version 15 (I believe) has had the option to store container data in a separate folder. This means that all of that data is not being backed up whenever FileMaker Server backs up your databases. This data is not treated as a reference, but as if the file is directly within the container field.
I'm assuming that's a folder on the Filemaker Server machine. If that's the case, it is actually storing only a reference to the file, but it's ensuring the reference can't be broken, by storing the file on the same machine.

I'm not sold on it being the ideal solution, but I can see what they're trying to do. It just ignores that people may have very legitimate reasons to have files or images stored across many different servers for purposes other than storage in Filemaker.
 
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I was a little more concerned about some of the deprecations and removals. They have deprecated support of EPS files and also the extremely useful 'Store only a reference to the file' option for container fields. Pretty much eliminates it for storing large quantities of images if they have to be stored in the main file.
Please take a look at container storage options.... "Store container data externally - relative to..."
 
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Many FileMaker developers use what's called the "Separation Model." One file has only data, the other has the GUI, scripts, value lists, et al.
The ones I think we know as the real pros do it. But so many FM users started with a derivation of an FM template, so they were inclined not to follow best practices.

FM has over the years complicated matters by not making certain assets accessible, making moving from FM to other solutions complicated, which is why there are solutions like FM Pro Migrator.
 
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I am a huge fan of Airtable (airtable.com). Simple relational database with add-on features for complex printing and integration with other web services. Plus, it's damn simple to use.
 
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I'm at FileMaker Pro 11. My database needs are incredibly simple... I just need a database that allows for graphical design, since I design and print numbered tickets for non-profit organizations. The tickets (8 on a sheet) are printed twice: once with the artwork from Illustrator, and run through again for the numbers and client information. Without the database, I would have to put all that client and number information in the Illustrator file; with hundreds of tickets, that would be an awful lot of work changing each page.
I've been a FileMaker user since the dark ages (started, I think, with v 5.5) and have upgraded about every other year or every third year to keep current. Until this week, I'd been at version 14. I used FM Pro professionally, a bit, in my small unit at a university. But mostly, my use has been personal.

Like Paul, my needs have also been quite simple, and, like Paul, they're also graphical. Among my several FM projects is a database which I have maintained for 20+ years for a non-profit community group, an annual address book/directory. It's a printed product, a booklet. I never wanted to settle for spreadsheet-style output, which is what I always saw from MS Access users. I wanted to be able to enlarge and/or bold key portions (but not all elements) of each member's entry (for easy reading), highlight certain "preferred" phone numbers and email addresses, and arrange and set-off some aspects of each listing such as "Emergency contacts" with highlights or boxes, etc. I wanted to lay out my booklet's pages just the way I liked them. And I wanted to be able to produce at least 4 different page formats for various sortings of the same data (by name, address, street, lot number, etc.). Filemaker has always made this process both fun and relatively simple. Its graphical layout tools have improved very significantly since those dark ages. The software is expensive, but the upgrade prices have always been fairly reasonable.

These data are available to my community's members on a website, but only as PDFs (FMPro makes this easy, too.) I really wish I could learn how to load the database onto a simple website, where members could search the database. But since I already foot the bill, personally, for the FM Pro software, I'm not about to underwrite a FileMaker Server for this group. Maybe I'll venture into devising a "solution" which might run on the group's website.

I recently downloaded the FM Pro 16 "trial" software, to help decide whether to upgrade from FM Pro 14. But before I could test version 16, this MacInTouch thread alerted me to v17, and I've just bitten that bullet. My old files all open and work in v17 just fine.
 


The ones I think we know as the real pros do it. But so many FM users started with a derivation of an FM template, so they were inclined not to follow best practices.
I agree that many users start with FileMaker's templates and muddle their way through. Professional FileMaker developers start with their own scratch-built templates.

in my opinion the separation model is not automatically a "best practice." My clients are small - I can easily shut down their servers at night to work on the databases.
 


in my opinion the separation model is not automatically a "best practice." My clients are small - I can easily shut down their servers at night to work on the databases.
I concur that the separation model is not always best practice nor more reliable, precisely because of the added complexity: a simple "Go to Related Records" script step becomes a multi-segmented search operation with scripts in 2 files. Some people have a belief that searches in general will magically be faster if they separate their files; this is not at all so. And so on.
 
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I really wish I could learn how to load the database onto a simple website, where members could search the database. But since I already foot the bill, personally, for the FM Pro software, I'm not about to underwrite a FileMaker Server for this group. Maybe I'll venture into devising a "solution" which might run on the group's website.

I recently downloaded the FM Pro 16 "trial" software, to help decide whether to upgrade from FM Pro 14. But before I could test version 16, this MacInTouch thread alerted me to v17, and I've just bitten that bullet. My old files all open and work in v17 just fine.
You could consider hosting your files with a reputable outfit like FMPHost.com - my only relationship to them is as happy customer, but there are several others. They have shared FileMaker 13 or 14 hosting accounts where they handle all the licensing and configuration for as little as $60/mo. -- plus, this includes web access to your files, assuming that your layouts are web ready.

Incidentally, you would have to use your FileMaker 16 to access the files hosted on the FileMaker 13/14 hosting; FileMaker 17 politely declines to do so. These hosting companies also offer newer version hosting, but the pricing model precludes shared servers, so the entry price is higher.
 
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I'm a developer and just got an email from Filemaker with a single license key (their new licensing model) and links to download 17 Advanced and Server. I'm still on FM15 Server, so this will be a big upgrade, as 17 Server is quite different in some ways. Has anyone successfully installed it yet? How important is it to get an SSL certificate if I'm mainly using it internally? Is my server at risk of being hacked w/o it?
 


I just upgraded from FileMaker Pro Advanced 14 to FileMaker Pro Advanced 17 for $197. I realized that when the next version comes out I may not be able to upgrade. So I went for it. Doesn't seem too expensive since I didn't buy 15, and 16. Originally, I bought 2 for one so that is another cost savings to me. I looked at Panorama X too.
 




I'm a developer and just got an email from Filemaker with a single license key (their new licensing model) and links to download 17 Advanced and Server. I'm still on FM15 Server, so this will be a big upgrade, as 17 Server is quite different in some ways. Has anyone successfully installed it yet? How important is it to get an SSL certificate if I'm mainly using it internally? Is my server at risk of being hacked w/o it?
I haven't installed Server 17 yet nor can I answer your certificate questions authoritatively. If you're not already on it, I suggest subscribing to the FMPexperts mailing list.

A reminder: your FileMaker Developer license only allows the products to be used for testing, not production.
 


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