File Folders: the still missing feature in FMS 19

Slightly off topic, for which I apologise, but our most connected server is one of our SBA servers. This hasn’t ever got to half the maximum 500 connections.

However, the biggest problem with the new servers remains the management of the numerous (separated) files within the admin console.

Constant web page refreshes and scrolling back up to the top menus is a productivity nightmare, particularly as the solution folders no longer group the files.

I haven’t investigated any API options, so Wim, if you were as frustrated as we are with the admin console, what would you use to improve the management of a server?



This is where the AdminAPI comes in handy. You can control how you want it to work and just fire the commands at the server. The API is expired now in 17, but is a full feature in 18 and 19. There are at least a dozen or more tools out there already built.

Basically I'd do what @jormond suggests: build your own console using the Admin API. On the Soliant Github you'll find some things that we have done, including building a calendar for the schedules. If you have a good web developer on staff they can build you something in no time flat, with all the bells and whistles you want, the UI that works for you...
There are many consoles out there that are built in FM but I'd probably go for a web based one.

1 Like

under 17 and 18, we are using the 'missing admin tool' from Claus Lavendt

but on the other hand, to be honest, it's like buying a car and for the seats, one needs to bricoler something... not everybody is perfect in that

I would love to get an admin console that serves all the needs, in one place

Wim Decorte / Steven Blackwell had a perfect comparison/guide somewhere with 'what needs what' (of cli, api, console)


Hi Andy,

thank you for reminding me of what can go wrong in product development. Maybe there are arguments in favor of cutting features, hiding options, make users/admins suffer, but to me they just don't show up.

I've heard developers argue that this is fine to distinguish between the pros and the amateurs in FM-deployment setup. Maybe that was the reason behind that decision.

For me it is annoying and also it makes it a lot harder being the FileMaker advocat in bigger environments where you have to interact with other admins or introduce inhouse admins to the new console. I've seen some frowns to say the least.

2 cents for the weekend from Holger


Taking Markus's analogy slightly further. I've owned a car for 3-years, I buy a direct replacement, it does the same job. There have been some new features released in the intervening time but these are disabled as they don't work. It runs pretty much like the model it replaced but to have everything the previous model had I've got to take various bits off and manufacture replacement parts myself. Oh, and the new model costs twice the amount of the original.

Wim and Josh's advice is helpful, but how this is received depends on perspective.

If you're a consultant and can pass this charge on to your clients, then that's good for your business. But from your customers' point of view, they've paid for the product and are now paying again as the standard management of the server is substandard.

If you're an employee, then this is just another piece of work to do within your job as a developer, you'll get paid your salary regardless. However, if you're an employer, you've already paid for the licenses and now you're paying a member of staff to rewrite something you've already paid for.

My reaction, as a business owner and employer who has to decide whether to spend between £15k and £75k on license renewals in the next few weeks, is not positive. Technically, thank you both for the advice. As a FileMaker licensee, I have yet another increase to the cost of ownership of this product.


Yes, it is YOUR total cost of ownership that you will dictate whether the platform offers sufficient value vs that cost.

We don't because that's not the kind of work that is easy to amortize across clients. We look at it as either having immediate and tangible value of making our own work lighter or not. It's like the decision to buy some developer tools. The cost of doing business.

Same as the decision to pay to be a Microsoft Partner and an AWS Partner and a Salesforce partner. The money we spend on licenses for Ping, OneLogin, Centrify so that we can acquire the necessary auth skills. (These three don't have free developer sandboxes like OneLogin or a big free tier like Auth0).
Same having to maintain an FM Cloud and a Claris Connect subscription just so that we can play.

We all have distinct and specific parts to our costs of doing business that the other one doesn't have.
But at the end of the day, I would rather have it the way of the admin console: a basic one that does just enough and then an API to build it just the way I want it, which is going to be different than the way you want it. I think that's an excellent way to go. Just the tools, ma'am. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I used to give that exact argument to people fussing about having to buy mbs or other tools to be able to waste less time dealing with FM inefficiencies when developing.

The problem with that is that it is not the same cost for a business that is well established and of a certain size, like Soliant for example, and for independent developers or small companies.

It’s the same issue of the impact of grocery shopping for a poor and for a rich. A person can eat up to a point whether rich or poor. Assuming sensibly the same purchases, the proportion of the alimentary expense on their respective budgets is completely different. The poor can barely covers food and roof. So forget about investing in learning or acquiring new skills.

The fixed costs of being in business is greater on small firms or independent developers. Therefore their ability to grow, to expand depends a lot more on luck than one wish.

The independent developers cannot get sick, have clients in collection, etc. or it’s the end of them. Unless you’re a super star and can charge a lot for your time or work during the day as a consultant and at night to develop a product that you hope to finish fast enough to make you some extra passive income, the truth is, in 2020, it’s crazy hard to take the plane off the ground.


I hear ya, but it is a little bit the chicken or the egg. Don't forget that besides my role at Soliant, I've been running my own business (Connecting Data) for 20+ years and still going. It's basically a 2-man shop with my wife and I. Even for that company I've been an MS Partner, spent a lot on server infrastructure and subscriptions all to learn the ropes. Deliberate practice, it's how you get through the various learning curves faster and it is how you get to charge more for your services: by being proactive and investing.

To some extent it's been the same discussion with my friendly competitors going back almost 30 years when they ask me: "why do you spend so much of your time giving away your knowledge on the forums, speaking at devcons and developer groups?" Clearly there is an opportunity cost for me to it, the time I spend on that I can't spend on billing work. Because it forces me to learn, the investment is worth it.


There is no such thing as a cost that can not be passed down to a customer from my perspective. I must recover all my business costs from my business income and all my business income comes from my customers.

1 Like

From a value perspective, instead of "passing it on to clients", it becomes a cost of doing business, and you just make sure your margins cover your cost.

The biggest contention I see happen with many developers, and this is partly a side-effect of billing hourly, is that margins are so thin, that decision comes down to:

  • work faster, make less money.
  • work slower, make more money.
  • tools make me work faster, which lowers how much I invoice, which reduces how many tools I can afford.

The "how much is your hourly rate" conversation will almost always back you into a corner. Which becomes "I have to bill as little as possible", and that perspective doesn't benefit you or the client. The client suffers because they are not paying for your best work, nor incentivizing you to get it done quickly.


This is a legitimate perspective especially at a bird's eye level. In practice I've found that I have to make investments in myself that sometimes take years to pay back. E.g. I can't necessarily bill my client for the time it takes me to learn a new framework, rather, I must invest in learning that with the hope that I can recoup those costs when I apply my new knowledge to a later project(s).

The accounting gets kinda fuzzy when I try to link those personal investments to specific later billable projects, so I've often resorted to just periodically checking in with myself to see if I'm getting on base and if the research I'm doing looks like it's going to be worthwhile long term. Sometimes those investments end up as time wasted, but even that's valuable in determining the types of investments I make later.

I agree about business costs overall. Sometimes I think that I would be tinkering around with this stuff even if I wasn't getting paid, though. It's kinda fun.

1 Like

Let me rephrase. It is a subtle difference but I think it is an important one.

There is no such thing as a cost that is not passed down to a customer from my perspective. I must recover all my business costs from my business income and all my business income comes from my customers.


I can definitely agree with that perspective. The difference I see is that sometime people are calculating profit based on cost vs profit based on revenue. Cost control is involved in both, but the former often leads to razor thing margins.

In the long run and with the bottom line of "you have to stay profitable"; then yes.

But not in the short run; a lot of the time spent learning doesn't need to be billed to the clients right away. As was said in this thread, some of it takes years to yield results, some of it is entirely strategic that may take your business into a direction for which you don't have clients yet. The clients that will gladly pay for what you are learning now are in the future.
So you want to make sure that your current work now is profitable so that it leaves you with both time and money to invest. Sink some of that profit back into the company.

The topic of hourly billing vs. value billing is somewhat related and entirely fascinating since it does dictate some of the mental framework for doing this in a way that is gentle on yourself and not narrowly focused on the 'golden hour'. For my own business (Connecting Data, not Soliant) we often work with fixed bids because it frees us up from the stress of accounting-by-the-hour.