Licensing think talks

When you rent FileMaker, you have access to newer versions and patches, but you can stay with your current version if you wish. There will be changes since the yearly new version is now out.

When you stop paying the rent (subscription) you can't use the software anymore past the end of the contract. This is very important to understand. My guess is that the FMS license will get invalidated pas the end of the contract. If you choose to buy perpetual licenses, then you're Ok to still use the software, but good lock on MacOS !

there was a note in the license, that one can not mix lincenses (what might make sense sometimes - but in the scenario described above)

Then, I asked several times what I can do since I got now a rented license (site, fba) and I need to run older versions, for checking, for working on customer sites that are not on the latest version of fm, etc.

I got one answer from a represant from fmi, telling me that this should be possible, although they expect to move to the current version as soon as possible

There was no way to speak directly to that person, I had to ask this via a local representant who could not answer

Therefore, I'm puzeled and unsure

(funny thing... at the moment, I'm dealing with Canon's 'Therefore' system. Always when writing 'therefore', I'm ...)

Thanks so much, that's great, I'll try and schedule some time in to get learning!

Using @anon45965781's example of 40 users, and just using the online store... you have too decide what's most important to you. Lifetime licensing costs, if you used FileMaker for 15 years, is still lower using the annual volume license ( which is essentially 1/3 the cost of a full perpetual license ).

If you want your annualized cost to be lower, buying the maintenance every year after buying the perpetual license is your best move with FileMaker. Maintenance is 1/5 the cost of a full license. So if your client updates more than once every 6 years, it's cheaper (annually) to just pay for the maintenance. Annualized cost after the initial purchase would be ~$4k/year for 40 users. The other benefit to this approach, is that if you stop paying, there is no requirement to uninstall FileMaker.

Now none of this includes a Site License, if the company only has 40 employees. The costs are typically even cheaper. For example, our current cost is significantly less than $5/month/user.

Quick comparison ( does not include multi-year purchases which include additional discounts ):

AVL ( Annual Volume License, non-site license ) @ 40 users.
Annual cost: $5,760
Lifetime cost over 15 years: $86,400
Monthly cost per user: $12
Note: Always update to date version ( important when OS versions are no longer available to install )

Perpetual License ( with Maintenance, non-site license ) @ 40 users
Initial cost ( year 1 ): $17,280
Annual Maintenance cost ( other years ): $3,456
Lifetime cost over 15 years: $65,664
Monthly cost per user: $36 ( year 1 ), $7.20 ( maintenance years )
Note: Always update to date version ( important when OS versions are no longer available to install )

Perpetual License ( no Maintenance, non-site license, upgrade every 4 years ) @ 40 users
Initial cost ( year 1, 4, 8, 12, 16-likely paid near end of year 15 ): $17,280
Lifetime cost over 15 years: $86,400
Monthly cost per user: $36 ( year 1, 4, 8, 12, 16 ). $0 ( year 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 )
Note: Only able to update every 2-4 versions, and are out of support for ~half the time ( important when OS versions are no longer available to install )

Site License discounts are also typically higher, so the numbers would be lower than all of the examples above. Also, contacting sales can often lead to at least some discount to get you in the door. There is also the option of getting your licenses through an FBA Partner. Again, none of that pricing is reflected on the online store.

This also doesn't account for the discount from reduced developer hours billed. That number can be pretty significant over the course of 15 years. All of it depends on our assessment, and the business owner's assessment of what's most valuable to them. For example, if you estimate that dev time is about 50% longer outside of FileMaker ( using a low number here for argument sake, because I know it's often longer ), a 60 hour project in FileMaker would take about 90 hours in . At a rate of $150/hour, it's going to cost an additional $4,500 in dev billable hours. This is a relatively small project. Now consider a larger project, 800 hours. The additional dev cost is now closer to $60,000 for that one project. What a business owner decides, is fine, but that all has to be part of the calculation. If you do additional projects in the future, there is additional savings. If it's ongoing development, the cost savings can be astronomical for the company and still providing you significant revenue.

Edit: One additional note that someone pointed out in a recent discussion elsewhere:

Claris does have a way to switch from annual to perpetual so in theory you just pay the difference then you remain on that version.

Edit 2: Fixed the license cost for the perpetual with maintenance 15 year cost that was a typo before.

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Since there will be no more annual version, how will this work now ? I guess that when you pay again for maintenance in 4 years, the you will get the next updates for a year.

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Honestly, I have no idea how it will work going forward. That is all stuff Claris has to work out. A year of maintenance included is pretty standard.

You know, if you use JetBrains products (all their programming IDEs), which also use subscriptions...if you stop "subscribing", your IDEs STILL WORK! What JetBrains does in this case is revert the software to the version you got initially or some recent version. That is subscriptions done right and the only reason I subscribe to all their IDEs. Yes, all of them. :slight_smile:


From day one I have been against the idea of paying monthly or yearly for the right to continue using software. I have not upgraded our Adobe since they removed the perpetual options for example. So I love the fact that FileMaker offers a perpetual option allowing the user to choice what works best for them.

I have done the math for my customers and it differs from what you have posted and I am wondering if I am doing it wrong. By my math on year 6 you break even when comparing perpetual license with yearly maintenance vs annual volume license. Below I stuck with the 40 users in my example


When presenting my customers with there options I point out that I have a personal bias towards perpetual but that ever organization brings its own needs and so they should contact FileMaker sales rep to learn about there purchasing options. So far they have all picked perpetual in the end.

I find both conversations interesting and I am fine if they are split or not split. it dose seem like the conversation on to split or not split could be split :slight_smile:

You are right @Susurrus. The spreadsheet I was using was calculating a different "value".

Specifically it was pointing at column that was taking the total lifetime cost and dividing it by the number of years. Definitely the "wrong" column for what I was looking at. LOL... that's what I get for working on 2 things at once... I guess I better go look at the other thing I was working on to see what I did there.


Seeing as I have been quoting people this for some time now I am glad I was not wrong. But this also makes me wonder why anyone would purchase an annual volume license over perpetual if they are committed to the FileMaker platform? The organizations I am working with it would take them years to switch platforms making it almost impossible that they would not at lease break even.

I can see how the up front cost for some could be the reason but I personally just can't help looking at the true cost over time.

And if they have a site license, the difference is even more staggering. It's that upfront cost, though. If you just don't have the capital to purchase the perpetual. Also, sometimes people aren't sure, so the 1/3 cost is a lower risk if they don't stick with it.

Can you elaborate on this? I feel a little sheepish that I do not know what that is.

Site License is when a company pays for license for all of its employees. There is a minimum of 25 licenses. Though you can get it for few people, and just pay for the site license. At around 12-15 users, it's typically about the same to get a site license for 25 users. The caveat is, you have to provide proof of the number of employees, and you have to pay for a license for all of them. So if you have 50 employees, you have to get 50 licenses.

Site license includes a license for the entire platform for every users. So for our one license, we can technically install and run 70 instances of FileMaker Server. We paid perpetually many years ago, and are now paying for maintenance, bought in blocks 3 years. Our per user cost, divided out monthly, with our site license and multi-year discount, is significantly less than $5/user/month.

Ok that is why I I have not heard about it. Well that is not exactly true I do recall looking at that option but none of my customers are over 8 users. I seem to recall ruling it out as an option early on.

Do you have a vertical market app? Have you looked at the SBA ( Solution Bundle Agreement )?

site license has a minimum of 25 BUT you can get a site license for fewer people... so for example if a company has 20 people it is better to get a site license for 25 and you also get 25 servers and up to 500 webdirect users

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I have heard the term vertical market app but to be honest I am not sure I understand the term. I make a solutions for municipalities.

my customers very in size as a whole but many of them are much larger then 25 employees in total but the department I sell too that uses it ranges from 1-8 so far. If I understand how that would work every one that works for the municipality would count as an employee not just the department correct?

Is it essentially the same solution deployed for different clients?