Latest news from Claris: If you have not listened to this already, wait no longer

This event took place just today (April 26th), so the video was just released moments ago.

It would be pointless for me to recap the highlights. Simply go listen to it.

I'm sure you will agree, there is plenty of material in there to talk about.


Why do I get the feeling that once pricing is announced, I'll faint (again)? LOL.
It would be a welcome change not to get nickel-and-dimed for a dev version of FMS (FDS). Many other vendors make their dev products free too, so this "new direction", as I understood it, isn't exactly groundbreaking in any way.

Time will tell.

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I do agree, people will talk about a lot ! Watch this presentation to know what's coming up. The New stuff now has a name... and many things you wouldn't have guess.

Maybe you were expecting them to come up with a time machine or something fancier. From my end, I'm sure glad to hear a bunch of what was introduced today, and sure won't complain about it.

Is it something that could have happened earlier? I sure would have liked it to be so. I don't think this would have materialized under the previous CEO. Even if it is something that has to be done, I'm not sure a new CEO would put that as something to do just has he puts his hands on the wheel. Since Brad came on, there have been many changes that have been introduced. Not every one likes change and not every change can materialize (if we think of taking the platform to android for instance), but they are clearly trying to bring more to the table all the time, and it is shaping up both their future and ours.

I am also curious to hear about pricing, but will wait until they announce before I make a comment. All I can hope for, is that they learned from what happened with pricing when Claris Connect was launched. I'm pretty sure they will want to avoid any 2-step approach and get pricing right from day 1. As you say, it is too early to call, and yes, time will tell.

Not sure if it has to do with the arrival of Brad, but we were told the the release of 19.5 will bring fixes for 400 bugs ! I don't recall there were so many bugs fixed in a single release. We will see when 19.5 will be published.

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They swapped out the whole management team over the last few years.
New people bring in a lot of new ideas.

Whether the new licensing will fly depends on the cost.
We hope it's basically the same, so people can switch easily.

And the freemium thing lets us give out example fmp12 files to people with easy instructions on how to get FileMaker to try them.


Claris maybe a bit late at this game. This week, Appian was mentioned in an article in iX Magazin, a renown publisher of IT news, IT information at large and IT training material in Germany.
They spoke to Appian's CEO and to a VP of Appian Germany about their low code initiative they are bringing to universities.
In short, Appian has its entire infrastructure in place and they have a subsidiary taking care of local business customers, in local language.
FileMaker flies under the local radar since a while, which is regrettable. Will Claris Studio fare better?

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With products like the extremely popular $35 Ninox database product (one-time cost), there is competition from all sides. While Ninox might not seem like much of a competitor for FileMaker, my initial testing shows it's quite capable for many smaller systems and very easy to use. It also syncs effortlessly for free with my iCloud account and the free apps that run on any mobile device. According to Ninox, their product is used in enterprises as well.

Well, Ninox may have some things going for it in its own market. Now, the product you seem to be talking about is "Ninox for Mac" and, without extensive knowledge about it, it feels closer to what Bento was than what Claris now offers. They themselves brand it as the "solution for the individual user". To me, it looks like a sales tool for people to upgrade to their cloud offering. Their product page does not even have a native client for Windows.

On the server side of things, their pricing for dedicated cloud or on-prem is undisclosed. Just the kind of transparency I like. Their SaaS offering has 2 plans, both of them being capped on total record count (50k and 500k respectively), and the entry level does not even have role-based access permission. None of them offer you external authentication. Your API calls are limited to a count instead of data (can be good or bad depending on your use case). You cannot connect to SQL nor use a custom SMTP mail server (so if your solution is sending out emails, they likely are tied to their domain). All hosting is in the EU, to some it is ok, but not to everyone. Oh and their entry level paid plan does not give you access to support (only community forum).

To those who want to use Ninox, they are welcome to do so. As for myself, this is not the stack I want to sell any customer.

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Totally agree with you and I wasn't trying to promote Ninox. :slight_smile:

Their cloud product isn't anything, IMHO, close to what FMS has and their DB product itself (yes, for Mac) doesn't do everything FileMaker can do. No question.

Their (Ninox's) support on their forum, from what I've observed, is terrible and the product itself has lots of holes.

Still, I've been able to write a couple of quick apps that automate stuff that I can sync with my phone.


I'm so pleased that they are offering a no-cost entry point. That is so much more sensible than time-limited or feature limited evaluations.

We need to see what will be the cost to deploy then. There has been a question I don't remind whose answer was something like "we know we have to fix that". Some months ago this same answer was given to a question about the developer needing a license to work on a solution deployed on Claris Cloud ... and to my best knowledge this issue was not fixed.


Where'd I put that soapbox? Ah, here it is... [grunt]

I'm concerned that the no-cost single-user solution is the smiley face in front of another licensing model that my clients will never accept. FileMaker/Claris has, at this point, in my opinion, a long history of slapping a ritzy new coat of wide-eyed marketing buzz on something and saying, "Here, look at this awesome new development we're rolling out (that doesn't give you anything you've actually been needing without taking away something you did like, and really mostly only benefits us.)"

I envision a conversation going like this:

Prospective customer: "I love the demo you've sent me, and that I could test it out myself for no cost before deciding if it's for me. It seems like it is. How would our small, family-owned business get this going for our 5 or less employees?"
Me: "Well, first you buy the package from me. You can buy a support package up front if you think you'll need it, or you can hire me hourly for further help later on when you need it. That's up to you."
PC: "Great! Let's do it!"
Me: "But wait. Then you pay FileMaker for a five-seat license for the first year."
PC: "You mean, we buy a 5-seat license of FileMaker to run your app? Not a problem"
Me: "Right. For the first year."
PC: "Wait, what do you mean? What happens after the first year?"
Me: "Then you buy a license for the second year. And, if the version of FileMaker out at that time has introduced breaking changes, you hire me again to upgrade your app to be compatible with what you're renting, er, annually licensing from them."
PC: "Wait, so we pay you now, and pay for FileMaker now, and then in a year, we have to pay for FileMaker again? And maybe have to pay you again in a year, if they're no longer renting, er, annually licensing a version 100% compatible with the features it has right now that you built it with?"
Me: "Right"
PC: "Ok, potentially having to re-pay every year just to keep using it could get expensive. Ok, well, you know what, we don't need it in full-time use, we'll just put it on one computer, and our 5 employees can each go sit at that computer when they need to use the FileMaker app."
Me: "Well, you could do that, but legally you'd be breaking the license agreement, because the license says that that's still 5 users, even if it's only on one computer and each of them only uses the app for one minute a year. It's not per-seat licensing, it's per-user. A user is a single individual person."
PC: "Hold on a second...." [heated background mumbling] " know what, we're going to stick with the the app we've been using, we already own that. Thanks for your time."

That might sound like an exaggeration, except, something like it has already happened to me. A few years ago the "per user" licensing restriction scared off a client who approached me with a very large project. Even though the client knew for all practical purposes they could violate the license without any real consequences, they were in a field where they had to be mindful of ethics and didn't want to play fast & loose with licensing for a critical project. And of course FM Inc (at the time) reps weren't at all willing to work with them or discuss how they might be able to cut costs. So they turned tail. It was a large enough project that I was pretty steamed, it would have made a real difference that year.

Since then, I've had just recently had another client tell me "If I buy something, I prefer to own it" when I tried to talk to them about annual licensing.

Not that I'm saying I'm positive that's how it's going to go. This is all a lot of new information to digest. But I'm concerned, and definitely not clear that that's not how it's going to go.

I'm also a little concerned that this meeting so scrupulously avoided using the word "FileMaker" at all... not in the new product names, and not at all during this meeting's script until users mentioned it first during the Q&A. You wouldn't think that a company would be trying to distance themselves from the name recognition of a successful flagship product.

And, oh, yeah, hammering on "Problem Solving" as a selling point. I guess "Workplace Innovation" wasn't a vague enough marketing catchphrase. Like enabling you to be "Problem Solver" is in any way a differentiator between FileMaker and literally any other business software platform of any kind. The whole thing scares me.

There's a direct line from those totally ineffective marketing campaigns a number of years ago (I think?) with the staff of The Office or the guy doing magic trick, none of which ever listed a single concrete differentiating feature of FileMaker as a solution, and relied solely on hollow buzzwords like "Workplace Innovation Platform" through this video, with it's "Problem Solver's Circle" (if that doesn't sound like something you'd hear in a sitcom parody of a clueless corporate initiative, I don't know what does). And it's a line in a direction I worry about. It doesn't fill customer needs.

I also notice in the last few webcasts they're talking about "anonymous data collection". This is an example of what I have a problem with. Are they seriously now trying to position FileMaker to compete with an established giant like SurveyMonkey in SurveyMonkey's own arena? That hardly seems viable.

For a solid 20 years or more, FileMaker was at the front of the pack. Except for one single non-cross-platform MS app, FileMaker was the only thing available that did what it does. Now, for the last 10 years it's been like they're looking for what's already successful and saying, "Ok, let's see if we can catch up with that." Meanwhile, I lose prospective clients to GoodBarber because it fills the small-business low-code niche that FileMaker used to, and fills it with a better-looking UI and smoother development experience. I don't want to see FileMaker trying to play catch-up with SurveyMonkey and GoodBarber, I don't think there's a future in it. Nobody is looking for that. They have it already.

I do think, in the webcast a couple weeks ago where they dove into the upcoming tech and outlined the new features which I believe were much more browser-oriented and built in React, yet gave advanced users the ability to get under the hood and poke at the javascript, that looked to me like long-overdue steps potentially in the right direction. I have long heard clients complain that FileMaker solutions always look and feel "old fashioned" (no arguments, please: jQuery and React and Angular and the like have accustomed users to far more modern UX than FM's native tools for ages at this point) but that was the first time I heard an official source finally acknowledge it. The shift to a more primarily browser-based UI and MongoDB is smart too, especially if we get a little better access to the guts of the engine, which they did raise as a possibility, and it sounds like they're handling it right, developing that in parallel to FileMaker and sharing data with it.

So the forecast definitely isn't all doom and gloom, and over the next few years we developers could actually be in for the most exciting new advances we've seen since the change to v7, or even maybe v3. The game definitely is far from over.

But this webcast, in particular, didn't fill me with confidence. The marketing just seems oblivious to real-world user concerns (my users at least) and the licensing model is offputting and user-hostile, and if that doesn't change, I don't see how "free for single user" is going to help anything much. I think there's too much competition in the low code/no code space nowadays to rely on that.

This concludes today's rant. All statements are IMHO. Rant void where prohibited by law.


I recently lost a deal with a prospective client (50 users) who, once they read the license restrictions for FMS, they ran for the exits (they weren't "thrilled" about the cost, either). Never heard from them again.

FMS is such an awesome product but its pricing and licensing terms make it an elusive beast for me to sell. As developers we see, and appreciate, its incredible technology. (Clients are different.)


That would not be breaking the license agreement if the prospective customer purchases a single license. Section 1.a.1 of the license states:

You may install and use only one copy of the Software on a single computer at a time.

The same section later states:

The Single License may not be shared or used concurrently on different clients or computers.

So no problem sharing FileMaker amongst many users on a single computer.

Let me add that, were the prospective customer wish to purchase annual licenses and install the server on-premise, there is no obligation to update the FileMaker software at any time, least of all during license renewal. A customer could use a given version of the platform for years if they so choose.

The only thing they loose with this approach is access to technical support, paid or not, once Claris opts to stop supporting the chosen version. Were I the consultant here and were the solution mission-critical, I would likely steer the prospective customer to upgrade the software on a periodic basis and pay to update the solution from time to time.

As for Claris's announcement…

Many developers have been asking Claris to create a free version of their software. They also asked for a replacement to the runtime version of FileMaker Pro. The freemium model achieves both of these requests. Entry into the platform is now free. I find this great to introduce users to the platform and great for training purposes.

I lack information to form an opinion regarding the future licensing model and pricing. I don't want to speculate.

As for technology…

Claris was clear in the past that the FileMaker platform carries a lot of bagage. Its future platform, Claris Studio, will be its eventual answer to release itself from this bagage. Don't expect Studio to solve everything from day 1. Claris was just as clear on its "new" Agile approach to introducing features: introduce a minimum viable feature quickly, then iterate the feature to meet customer expectation over time.

I admit to having been left wanting in past FileMaker releases. That said, I think Claris is introducing wonderful features in the upcoming releases. Scalability is a big thing with some of my customers. I see a lot of potential for live text. Developers, I being one of them, have been clamouring for better transaction support for years. Adding authentication options is always a good thing in my opinion.

Lastly, the Problem Solvers Circle…

I have worked in executive teams. Innovation and problem solving are two very well-known and used expressions in executive teams. So "Workplace Innovation Platform" and "Problem Solvers Circle" are not vague catch-phrases to me. They speak to me as an executive. They also give me a fairly good indicator of Claris's target customer: those who want to innovate with software and those who want to solve problems with software.

I think this post is long enough. Hope this helps.


Well, nobody knows how the new licensing will work and how much it will cost. We have to wait for the details before we can have an opinion.

I have to say it's a thing of the past but for a few software publishers. Look at Autodesk and Adobe for example. It's heavy tendency. I understand that change hurts the users though, but that comes from the fact that users we not buying upgrades as before. Software editors need money to carry on developing their products, and subscription was the way they picked, But that being said, some publishers a more aggressive than others.

It's a good attitude to wonder about changes, again I guess we need more information to get the full picture.

Regarding the word FileMaker vanishing, Claris acknowledge that this word is burned by bad mouthing people how never used FileMaker but have an opinion.

Do you know what details specifically shocked them?

I've worked with FileMaker in university settings and understand some of the reasons why IT has been wary of integrating it. The list of reasons is quite long, so I'll cherry pick.

  1. Scalability.
    At one university I was in a meeting with IT and department heads to discuss the integration of a FileMaker app within the University system. I asked IT why they refused to allow us to pursue aspects of the job that were highly desirable for the users. They said: we have to maintain high performance across dozens of systems. FileMaker can't keep up on scale.

  2. Security.
    It's really hard for them to control FileMaker because users can build an application which was unsecured ( admin user, no password) and had access to department resources.

And when they do see it working properly, they immediately try to replicate it with a Java based web app.

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Citizen developers, I know a few of them that were really good, and many of them who were, hum, I prefer not to tell :roll_eyes:.


If I use FileMaker/Claris to replace my “small” hedge fund/family office portfolio accounting system in Microsoft Access, a 5 user system on the “Cloud” at $100/month for the software platform, cloud service with security, backup, and FM/OS software maintenance, seems like a pretty good deal for me, especially when employees are all over the place using both Windows/Macs/iPads.

And nothing in the announcement threatens that model, but actually allows me to show the clients the new system with the free single-user software. And the emphasis on multi-user and cloud operations hopefully will drive more performance and other related improvements, such as establishing transactions with scripting.

And once in a while, a small hedge fund becomes a big hedge fund, and the other Claris Studio features may then be more relevant for them.