FM Server Licensing Question

If I have a client who also has FMS, am I "allowed" to add him as a user on my FMS? The acceptable usage of FMS is so narrow (niche status only), I'm never sure.


Whether your customer has a license or not makes no difference. It isn't permitted for development licenses as these are for internal testing use only. You are allowed for other non-site license types assuming you have not exceeded your license's user / concurrency limit. Site licenses limit external user access to two cases: your user is a sub-contractor; your user is a customer that is limited to portal-like access. What do I mean by portal-like access? Access by a customer for the only purpose of giving and obtaining data regarding their account with you. Access to development tools is forbidden (defining fields, layouts, scripts and so on). Note that FMS will limit the total number of active users, including those who are customers, to the license's user / concurrency limit.

So confusing.
Let's say I have a five user (not concurrency) FMS license.
I have clients who are not in my building.
I don't want to "host" FMP apps for them, but I might want them to be able to access applications I have written for my own company (enter data, run reports, etc.).
Under what conditions can they be a user on my FMS?
The EULA seems to say I need to purchase a new FMS license for each client?! But, what if they already have a license?
The EULA seems to only consider FMS acceptability for the very narrow case that you have FMS and employees in your building, on-site, that would use it.
If my EULA interpretation is correct, I'll never be able to use FMS...
Rather than opening up FMS so everyone would want it, it seems Claris has narrowed the allowable usage to maximize required licenses at the expense that few will that meet the strict EULA conditions. With my other DB severs (and software in general) this über-strict licenseing wouldn't be an issue as they're either totally open (MariaDB, Postgess, H2,...) or licensed to a CPU (SQL Server, Oracle, ...).

That fits the portal-like usage scenario: your customer is limited to giving and obtaining data regarding their account with you. They can be a user.

This assumes your 5-user license is not a developer license.

Right, not a developer license.

When I asked Claris sales this same question, they said "NO", not allowed....hence my confusion on basic understanding of what "is allowed". Maybe Claris gets confused, too.

So, your reply begs the question...what would I have to do if I wanted a client to be able to modify an app, add scripts or whatever? I don't envision that, but it's SO odd that basic functionality is license-crippled along these lines...Would the client have to come to my office and become an employee? LOL

Thanks for your great replies. :slight_smile:

I am surprised at the response you obtained from Claris . The use case here is that you provide a service via your software (your FileMaker solution). Claris allows you to create and host single or multi-tenant solutions. You aren't allowed to distribute FileMaker Pro to your customers (they must have their own licenses). No one but you may have development access to your multi-tenant solutions.

To be clear: offering access to a single or multi-tenant solution is different than hosting. The license forbid hosting solutions from multiple licensees on a single server. You are forbidden from offering access to your solution AND hosting your customers' solutions on the same server. You are also forbidden from hosting solutions for multiple customers on the same server.

The use case here is that your customer is a developer and you would be renting access to the FileMaker software (whether for free or for a cost). This is forbidden by the licenses agreement. Basic functionality this may be but there is nothing odd about this. Most closed-source software I am aware of have the same licensing limitation.

Thanks for the updates.

Right, I would not be hosting anyone's FileMaker solution on my FMS but I would expect a customer (or customers) to be able to use one or other applications I wrote to, say, enter data in WD, run reports, etc.

I "think" I'm OK with FMS.

Let me add one more thing: FileMaker (as Claris was called at the time) use to allow multi-tenant hosting. It no longer does.

I was once a multi-tenant hosting customer. I unfortunately experienced performance issues on a regular basis: under-powered servers; misbehaving solutions that brought servers to their knees or crashed servers; poorly designed solutions that consumed too much server resources.

It's my understanding that these issues reflected poorly on FileMaker, even though FileMaker was not responsible for these issues. It's also my understanding that FileMaker. chose to resolve these issues by forbidding multi-tenant hosting in its licenses.


That's fine, but I would expect that one or more or my customers would be able to access an app(s) "I" wrote (not hosted for them) to enter data, run reports, etc.

Is .. "that" allowed?

I need to make sure since setting up a real FMS server would cost more then $2K per year for FMS and a 16GB AWS t3 instance.

Hold on now! Who is the owner of the solution and who are the users? If you are the owner and you use this solution as well as your customers, then yes, you are okay. If you are the owner and your customer(s) is the only user of this solution, then you are okay only if your customer(s) access this solution as a service. This means your customer(s) don't directly direct, manage or fund the development or maintenance of this solution. If your customer is the owner of the solution, you are not okay because you are hosting a solution for a customer as well as for your own solutions.

Hope this clarifies things a bit.


That's the best explanation I've heard! Yes, I would be the owner of the solution and would use it as well as a customer. The customer would never own, fund, etc., any solutions.

Sounds good. Now I need to find the $2,500 to fund this setup! Now that I understand that I can actually use FMS for my needs, its cost (mainly AWS) is the painful part.

Thanks for your patience. I think I finally understand it! :slight_smile:

It's my understanding that when everyone has their own license it is legitimate. If they have their own license it doesn't matter that it is not own of your licenses. They have a valid license to use FMP. You have a valid license to run FMS. You allow them to connect to your systems if you wish.

Claris simply wants to ensure that users of FMS and FM client are properly licensed.


That's good also. Thanks.
The main issue though would be with a client I wish to give access to a solution of mine. That client wouldn't have FMP or a license so I would use one of my five licenses for him to give him legal access. Correct?

The management of licenses is your responsibility. You choose who you provide with licenses.

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I understand about the license assignment responsibility aspect. No problems there.

I had misunderstood before the excellent postings by @bdbd that it wasn't allowed for an external client to access my FMS for, say, data entry into an app I wrote that I own, when, it is.

Thank you, Malcolm. I'm about ready to buy my first real FMS license! :):):):slight_smile:

Also, as I understand it, a license is just me remembering who is using my FMS. If that user stops using my FMS, then I could assign that license to another user. So, a license isn't a physical thing; it's just me keeping track of the current five licensed users and changing one or more of those when/if needed.

You cannot just "think" licenses into and out of existence. If you distribute the license key to more people than you have licenses for you may breach your agreement.

At the time of installation, each licensed user has to provide a copy of the license.cert that you obtain when you pay the licensing fees.

If you have seven employees and only five need licenses, at the time you wanted to move a license to a different employee you would simply issue an instruction to one of them to remove the software and destroy the certificate and ensure that they complied.

If you provided a license to someone who is outside your control, such as a client, and you want them to return the license, then you probably need to obtain something in writing and signed by them to say that they have destroyed their copy of the license certificate and that they will no longer use it. It's probably a good idea to have that agreement in place before you deliver the license, so that you have a shared understanding of the obligations.

OK, now I'm confused again.

The clients who would connect to my FMS would be using WebDirect, not FileMaker itself.

Is there some requirement to send them a license key of some kind even though all they would need to do is log in using their browser to WD?

I really thought all I needed to do was keep track of these WD users and keep them to 5 or less.

No, They use a web browser. No need for installing software and certificates.

Yes, you are back to where you were before I piped up :person_facepalming:t4:

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No problem. I was afraid my clients weren't going to be able to access my FMS solutions and enter data. The whole "who is a user" issue appears to be solved now.

Now it's down to justifying $1,500 per year for an AWS instance for a single client's WD usage (for now).

Thank you, Malcolm. :slight_smile: