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Home > FileMaker History

FileMaker History

FileMaker has been around since the mid-1980s, following closely on the heels of the first Mac released by Apple, the original 128K model.

Since then FileMaker has had Plus, II and eventually Pro suffixes to identify the product and is now the most popular cross-platform database available, with the majority of its sales now going to PC users running Microsoft Windows.

The most common mistake newcomers make when assessing FileMaker is to underestimate its power and flexibility. This usually comes about as a result of seeing how quick and easy it is to create a very useful database without looking further at the powerful functions and scripting language waiting to be taken advantage of. Simplicity and power in a single package!

May 2017
FileMaker v16 has been described as the most important release since the release of v7 and in truth there are too many new features to include them all within this summary.

Possibly the biggest step forward is the integration with other technologies. Native JSON parsing along with HTTP support with cURL makes FileMaker a competent HTTP client, allowing access to the many APIs available. A REST-based FileMaker Data API in FileMaker Server 16 is now included, albeit as a trial for the foreseeable future. We understand the trial status is more for commercial than technical reasons.

The Windows version moves from being an MDI to SDI application, which now allows the same window control as the Mac version. New context independent card windows add to the options available when building the user interface.

This version completes many of the features partially implemented within the last 2 releases and introduces some that have been at the top of many developers' wish lists. FileMaker Server 16 can now create PDF files when running a server script or from (the 4th release) of WebDirect, which will remove the many work-arounds that have had to be setup over the last few years. WebDirect can now scale up to 500 users by allowing up to 5 worker servers for each master server. Load balancing is automatically controlled by the master server.

Something that we believe has been understated is the ability to set data sources using variables, removing the need to manually set each data source and allow dynamic data sources when using the separation model.

The data viewer within FileMaker Pro 16 Advanced now auto completes and an option to evaluate expressions automatically can be switched on or off and results within the Edit Expression window can finally be resized.

Security has been further improved with the introduction of OAuth 2.0 allowing authentication from third parties such as Amazon, Google or Microsoft. Data can now also be encrypted at field level using new functions.

Layout design is significantly enhanced with the new Layout Objects Window allowing objects to be hidden or shown, the stacking order to be changed and interaction in many ways not previously possible that will improve productivity.

FileMaker Go 16 for IOS continues to have features added that include Location Monitoring to allow the geolocation to be monitored or identify known iBeacons within an area. New Animations and Transitions, Enhanced Signature Capture and Custom Paper Sizes have also been added.

There are many new script steps and functions, some covered within the above features. Notably, some features, previously only available within the Advanced version, have been made available within the standard Pro version, such as being able to copy and paste tables between files.

September 2016
FileMaker released FileMaker Cloud, albeit initially only in the United States and Canada. This provides FileMaker Server running on Linux servers within the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

It is important to differentiate FileMaker Cloud from our own cloud service. FileMaker Cloud requires the use of FileMaker Pro installed on each user's computer, or FileMaker Go on an IOS device or access via WebDirect from a browser. In terms of FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Go, all communication between the client and server software is constrained by the bandwidth of the user's Internet connection. Our own cloud service runs both the server and FileMaker Pro within the cloud, so all the bandwidth intensive tasks are carried out within the cloud. This provides much higher performance for large or complex solutions and all software is centrally managed by ourselves, removing the IT maintenance overheads and compatibility issues normally associated with local software installation.

May 2016
The release of FileMaker 15 was a disappointment to some developers due to its apparent lack of new features. However, we have found this to be one of the best releases with a lot of focus 'under the hood' to improve reliability, performance, security and addressing some of the idiosyncrasies introduced within the previous version.

FileMaker Pro received a revised interface, new help system and in app updates. There were some minor additions to fields, script steps and functions. The Script Workspace, introduced in FileMaker 14, now has unlimited undos with script errors highlighted making debugging quicker.

Mobility remains a priority and FileMaker Go introduced Touch ID, 3D touch, iBeacon and App Extensions support, with the continued option of the IOS SDK released earlier in the year. WebDirect continues to evolve and now supports publishing to web browsers on most mobile devices including IOS and Android mobile phones.

FileMaker Server 15 introduces performance improvements, expanded and easier to manage SSL certificates, WebDirect improvements and enhanced logging. Perhaps the biggest change was the amendment to the end user license agreement that no longer allows sharing of the server between multiple tenants and the introduction of FileMaker Licensing for Teams.

May 2015
Very much a release for developers with a lot of focus on mobility and FileMaker Go/WebDirect. The headline feature is a rewrite of the Script Manager, now called Script Workspace to allow faster script creation with auto-complete and searching for calculation functions. WebDirect continues to evolve with significant speed improvements and support for mobile browsers, including those on Android. Additional layout tools include the Button Bar and button icons (in SVG format) plus the first new layout parts for many years: the top and bottom navigation parts. Also added is a new Launch Centre, object component styles, in-field labels and a few new layout tools and functions.

Some welcome security enhancements have been introduced, inlcuding the ability to prevent login credentials being saved and stored on Mac and Windows.

FileMaker Pro 14 and Pro 14 Advanced are now 64-bit on Mac and Windows, with a 32-bit option still availalble for Windows.

FileMaker Server has a new 'reconnect to server' feature that allows FileMaker Pro clients to automatically reconnect after a network or power failure. Security has improved with a password strength indicator and password reset using a pin number. Along with the speed enhancements a new standby server option is now available to ensure high availability where a command line instruction allows a switch to a second server.

FileMaker Go 14 has a new user interface, launch centre, bar code insert, rich text editing, screen orientation control. video, audio and keyboard controls.

December 2013
Unusually, this FileMaker 13 history has been written 9 months after the actual release. Therefore we can pass on more informed comments having been developing in the software for this period.

The highest profile feature announced was the introduction of WebDirect that allows access to FileMaker layouts using a web browser to provide a FileMaker-like experience. Although we've found this very impressive, remember that it is a version 1 product and we can expect rapid and exciting development of this in future releases.

Whereas, our experience of FileMaker 12 was that it provided challenges to developers, it was clearly a necessary step to allow FileMaker 13 to evolve. The new layout design and tools are brilliant and version 13 has more than compensated for the productivity dip that we encountered from using version 12 and new 'popovers' and 'slide controls' are revolutionising the way interfaces are being designed.

Less well publicised additions such as 'Hide object when' have removed the need for so many work arounds that had to be created in the older versions. The CSS based layouts introduced in the last version have been enhanced so that virtually all aspects of an object and layout can be controlled via styles and themes, allowing changes to be made throughout a whole database by changing an attribute within these.

A new script step 'Perform Script On Server' could turn out to be the biggest new feature of all, by sending a script to FileMaker Server it can execute up to 100 times faster than those traditionally run in the FileMaker Pro client. Again, this is prompting developers to reconsider their database designs.

Needless to say, there are new script steps and triggers, functions, SQL query syntax, improved FileMaker Go integration, HTTP POST requests, a 64-bit version (only) of FileMaker Server 13 and many, many more enhancements.
To summarise, after nearly 30 years of using FileMaker, this is far and away the best version yet!

April 2012
The latest version is released - FileMaker Pro 12. The big news is that we finally have a new file format with the previous '.fp7' file format, that was released in 2004, being replaced by the new '.fmp12' format. The effect of this is that all database files have to be converted to the new format and old and new versions of FileMaker cannot be used to access the same database.

The headline features are:

Enhanced layout design tools, aimed in particular for creating applications for the iPad and iPhone (IOS devices) that can run the newly released FileMaker Go 12, which is now free of charge.
Much improved container fields, where FileMaker can manage media files such as images, videos and graphics
Improved charting
Improved performance over wide area networks, with FileMaker Server becoming a 64 bit application

However, as per previous releases, many of the less promoted additions will have huge implications on future database design such as:

Execute SQL calculation function - allowing data to be collated without the creation of dedicated table occurrences
New layout tools - multiple guides and auto alignment
Window styles - allows the creation of modal windows
Enhanced tab control - retaining the current tab when entering layout mode
Layout variable symbols - access to many functions that previously required fields to be created
Plug-ins - storing and installing using container fields
Multiple Undos
Script trigger enabling/disabling whilst in the Script Debugger
Get (UUID) function to create a universally unique identifier
ESS re-linking - the ability to re-point to different SQL databases

and many more!

For the record, we've pieced together some history tracking the significant upgrades in the following pages.

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