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The ludicrous unsustainable yearly development cycle has only made this worse....
That quote is unfortunately true of so many products.

With regard to FileMaker, I've been an ardent fan since Version 2.1. While this "phenomenon" happens to many products, it hurts that much more when it happens to products with such a long history, like FileMaker, or the Mac OS itself.

On the other side of the coin, even Windows is suffering from the blistering pace of modern development. For the good of users everywhere, I dearly wish this "trend" would stop! Apple would sell way more iPhones if iOS had the reputation it deserves rather than the one it has.

The thing that puzzles me is the fact that shareholders (of any tech company) don't seem to grasp the idea that such a change would ultimately be beneficial for them, as well.
 



For those keeping score, Windows 8.1 came out in 2013, a full five years before Mojave.
I have never understood why, with cross-platform products, there is so frequently such gross disparity when it comes to "legacy" support on Windows vs. the Mac. Is this truly Apple's fault, as some have suggested?
 


Meanwhile, I've found that the best way to run FileMaker Pro 12 is in Windows 10.
I most recently bought FileMaker Pro 16, and even paid a little extra to receive a backup copy on DVD.

If anyone here knows, does my license include both platforms, or am I precluded from switching platforms (even on a permanent basis)?
 


There has been some speculation that Serif - the company responsible for the Affinity trilogy of apps - would be creating a DAM (digital asset manager). How wonderful would it be if they decided instead to create a database product to take on Filemaker and make the DAM their primary demonstration product. It would probably cost $50 for a perpetual licence and have some clever way of tying into their other products so we could have integrated data merging. One can only dream.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... But there is no annual subscription for Individuals, just for teams of 5 or more users, at $2,340 per year....
You can currently buy FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced for an individual (one computer) at $540 and get a second copy free.

FileMaker Server - the on-premises version - looks like it starts at $900/year for 5 users (which equals $75/month).

It's FIleMaker Cloud that starts at $2,340/year.

Meanwhile, it seems ironic to me that FileMaker actually documents its support policy, while Apple steadfastly refuses to document any support/security policy for its operating systems (or other apps).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The greatest obstacle in my eyes is new machines running Catalina, as we still have requirements for 32-bit apps. If we could buy machines with Mojave (or Sierra/High Sierra), I'd try to convince management to purchase new machines which we could stabilise for several years.
If you act quickly, you might be able to get Macs that run pre-Catalina macOS, especially at the Apple Refurb store.
I would happily install Windows, except for some complex AppleScript requirements.
You might want to look at AutoIt Scripting Language.
 


And... it's "goodbye, FileMaker/Claris." Three hours ago, I received a grim email that is summed up here:
It arrived in my inbox with a slightly different subject line: "Important FileMaker product support changes", but the content appears to be identical.
As a user/minor developer/advocate since FileMaker 2.1 (circa 1992), this is sad news indeed. I've got a FileMaker 18 standalone licence, and I'll keep that running for as long as I possibly can and then move it to a VM (to join Adobe CS6 and a few other things). Goodbye, FileMaker/Claris, it was nice knowing you, but you won't be getting any more of my money…
 


The support note also says:
FileMaker/Claris/Apple said:
New Claris support policy
Beginning next year Claris will only provide product releases to customers with a current annual subscription or a perpetual license with an active Maintenance agreement.
Maintenance contracts notwithstanding, does this not suggest that perpetual licenses for the software will still be available in some form?
 


FWIW, I'm running FileMaker Pro Advanced 17 on Catalina. It seems to run fine... suggesting that, for some years, at least, an "old" version of FMP will continue to function on the "new" macOS system.

I'm not planning to pay for another "upgrade" to FMP under Claris's new model, but I don't feel pressured to find an immediate substitute. (My use is very modest, these days.)
 


There has been some speculation that Serif - the company responsible for the Affinity trilogy of apps - would be creating a DAM (digital asset manager). How wonderful would it be if they decided instead to create a database product to take on Filemaker and make the DAM their primary demonstration product. It would probably cost $50 for a perpetual licence and have some clever way of tying into their other products so we could have integrated data merging. One can only dream.
As I think others have noted, Norbert Doerner's oddly-named NeoFinder can act as a DAM for many things. I'm looking at using it instead of Paperless, since Mariner seems to have pivoted to become a junk reseller rather than a software developer. (Had to dump Acrobat Pro in any case, since I'm on Catalina, and am now using PDFPen, which so far seems entirely adequate for my purposes.)

I'm also looking at using NeoFinder as a DAM for Affinity Photo, but at the moment Luminar 3 seems to be working. Lightroom woke up once under Catalina, but refuses to leap into action any more.
 


Maintenance contracts notwithstanding, does this not suggest that perpetual licenses for the software will still be available in some form?
Maybe I'm pessimistic, but unless I am misreading things, a "perpetual" license is about to get a lot less valuable by their definition of the term.

Sure, it will allow you to legally run the software as long as it remains possible to do so, but even updates that are strictly for security will stop 12 months after your "maintenance agreement" ends.

It still sounds like a subscription in all but name. Not cool.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I chatted with a couple of database experts and came away with a few thoughts on the latest Apple/FileMaker changes:
  • FileMaker – now "Claris" – is pushing hard into cloud-based systems ("SaaS") under its new president (as put forth in the recent manifesto).
  • Cloud-based systems can make business sense even at higher subscription prices when they eliminate the costs of purchasing and managing your own database computer systems.
  • But FileMaker is not yet abandoning standalone (non-cloud) systems. Among other reasons, some organizations cannot, for policy/security reasons, allow their data to go out into the cloud.
  • Microsoft Power Apps has been developing rapidly (posing some competition for FileMaker).
  • Mendix is another interesting player in this space (recently acquired by SAP).
  • There are many different issues for cloud vs. traditional platforms, including critical performance and troubleshooting issues, as well as the costs of change.
  • As we all know, migrating databases from one platform to another is very time-consuming (and hence costly, if your time matters). But, of course, Apple (and other companies) keep forcing these kinds of changes on their customers when they're not wanted, as hardware and operating systems change.
  • FileMaker's jump to the current $540 entry price was already creating issues for individuals/small organizations, and FileMaker is aware of this. At the other end, FileMaker has never had low-cost "client-only" licenses, so scaling databases to large groups can be very expensive.
 


... FileMaker has never had low-cost "client-only" licenses, so scaling databases to large groups can be very expensive.
FWIW...
In 2012, I paid $179 for a FileMaker single-user license.
In 2014, it became $196.
And in 2017 (the most recent version I bought) cost $197.

(Long-ago-much-earlier versions were even less expensive.)
 



That appears to be an upgrade price, as 2017 FileMaker pricing started at $329 for a single user, non-developer version (and was already at $329 in 2015 for FileMaker 14). If you're trying to support 100 database users at that price...
Perhaps that was academic bulk pricing, too.

By the way, there are some non-profit subscription plans that offer multi-user "platform access" at somewhat more reasonable rates than are available to commercial/personal users.
 


...FileMaker has never had low-cost "client-only" licenses...
Back in the days of FileMaker Pro 5, when I first envisioned buying my own copy, I thought the $249 price tag was very reasonable for what you got, and comes as close as possible to the above description. Given that I am not a business, and therefore need only a single copy, there is absolutely no way I could say the same of the current $540 price.
 





Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Yes, but only for individual licenses, as I understood their store.
Actually, there is a perpetual license option for "teams", as well, but it's not cheap.
Go to FileMaker Store: FileMaker Server (on-premise) and click the "Perpetual" tab, to get
Warning about Perpetual Licensing
Please note that Annual licensing is the most popular choice. Annual licensing allows you to pay for and use the licensed software on a year-by-year basis. Product upgrades and updates are automatically included with this option. Perpetual licensing is triple the price of Annual licensing.
Then see prices, e.g.
  • $540 per user (5-9 users)
  • $396 per user (50-99 users)
  • 100+ users: Contact us...
 



I am a long time user of FileMaker - switching from FoxPro after purchase by Microsoft years ago and Microsoft's disastrous attempt to "Microsoft" (it literally would not run and was withdrawn for 6 or more months). It eventually became Access.

I don't understand the current hullabaloo about the current pricing plan (annual fees). This pricing plan has been in effect for more than two years as has my billing. At this point, my principal use is as a non-profit - also annual billing at a reduced rate but still very substantial cost.

Our use of FileMaker is with a very large collection of photographic images (c. 150,000 images). We are looking to use Filemaker Server to put the collection on the Internet.
 


FileMaker and Apple continue to operate in a fantasy world where everybody lines up excitedly to apply the latest greatest updates to operating systems and installed software. The real world of small business does not operate this way; for reasons of stability and cost, most small businesses are not running the latest operating system, and may in fact be two or three back. Denying security updates to these people as an attempt at leverage to get them to upgrade is a fools' errand: 1) many people simply won't do it, and 2) those people will be insecure, which ups the potential for 3) security disasters and debacles for end users.

FileMaker's byzantine licensing and compatibility policies are already challenging to support in the marketplace, and mom-and-pop shops really hate being told that they have to replace their computers (so they can get the new macOS), in order to get the new FileMaker (just so they can stay secure).

They also hate it when they are told that they cannot simply add a new staff person to the existing, stable workgroup, because compatible products are no longer being (legitimately) sold: the choices are a) to upgrade the entire office to a new version (obsoleting computers along the way, etc.), meaning $thousands in software costs and $thousands in IT support costs, b) to go without... or, c) to buy unsupported old versions on the grey or black markets. Yes, I am saying that support policies like this drive people to software piracy, and no; I don't like it.
 


I queried customer support at Filemaker about single licenses. I've been using Filemaker for a long time but it's only used for my own needs and never for multiple users.

The email reply was: "We will continue to offer individual licenses of FileMaker Pro Advanced and will support the current version and one version back."
 


The email reply was: "We will continue to offer individual licenses of FileMaker Pro Advanced and will support the current version and one version back."
I assume this query was made after this policy change was announced? I see nothing in the official announcement that gives particularly concrete support to what you have been told.

If it is true, however, I wonder if offering upgrade pricing is included in their definition of "support"? If you happen to be further behind than that, are you then stuck paying full price in the event you want to upgrade?
 


Maybe I'm pessimistic, but unless I am misreading things, a "perpetual" license is about to get a lot less valuable by their definition of the term. Sure, it will allow you to legally run the software as long as it remains possible to do so, but even updates that are strictly for security will stop 12 months after your "maintenance agreement" ends. It still sounds like a subscription in all but name. Not cool.
How long did pre-subscription perpetual licenses typically maintain software updates for any single version of this program?
 



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