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FileMaker Pro

FileMaker Pro is a cross-platform relational database application from Claris International, a subsidiary of Apple Inc. It integrates a database engine with a graphical user interface (GUI) and security features, allowing users to modify the database by dragging new elements into layouts, screens, or forms. FileMaker evolved from a DOS application, but was then developed primarily for the Apple Macintosh and released in April 1985. It was succeeded by FileMaker Pro in 1990. Since 1992 it has been available for Microsoft Windows and for the classic Mac OS and macOS, and can be used in a cross-platform environment. FileMaker server briefly ran on Linux, but Linux support was abandoned with FileMaker 7, thereafter only running on Windows or macOS servers. A client version was released for iOS devices in July 2010. It is available in desktop, server, iOS and web-delivery configurations. In 2016, FileMaker Cloud was introduced, including a Linux server (CentOS), which was offered exclusively through the Amazon Marketplace. In November 2019, FileMaker Cloud was reintroduced as a software as a service product offered directly from Claris for FileMaker Pro 18.0.3 using FileMaker Server Cloud 2.18 service on Amazon Servers, but managed by Claris instead of through the Amazon Market Place, and making use of the new FileMaker ID authentication.

software as a service 18.0.3 graphical user interface

1. History

FileMaker Pro began as an MS-DOS-based computer program named Nutshell – developed by Nashoba Systems of Concord, Massachusetts, in the early 1980s. Nutshell was distributed by Leading Edge, an electronics marketer that had recently started selling IBM PC-compatible computers.[1][2]

With the introduction of the Macintosh, Nashoba combined the basic data engine with a new forms-based graphical user interface (GUI). Leading Edge was not interested in newer versions, preferring to remain a DOS-only vendor, and kept the Nutshell name. Nashoba found another distributor, Forethought Inc., and introduced the program on the Macintosh platform as FileMaker in April 1985. When Apple introduced the Macintosh Plus in 1986 the next version of FileMaker was named FileMaker Plus to reflect the new model's name.

Forethought was purchased by Microsoft, which was then introducing their PowerPoint product that became part of Microsoft Office. Microsoft had introduced its own database application, Microsoft File, shortly before FileMaker, but was outsold by FileMaker and therefore Microsoft File was discontinued. Microsoft negotiated with Nashoba for the right to publish FileMaker, but Nashoba decided to self-publish the next version, FileMaker 4.[1]

1.1. Purchase by Claris

Shortly thereafter, Apple Computer formed Claris, a wholly owned subsidiary, to market software. Claris purchased Nashoba to round out its software suite. By then, Leading Edge and Nutshell had faded from the marketplace because of competition from other DOS- and later Windows-platform database products. FileMaker, however, continued to succeed on the Macintosh platform.

Claris changed the product's name to FileMaker II to conform to its naming scheme for other products, such as MacWrite II, but the product changed little from the last Nashoba version. Several minor versions followed.

In 1990 it was released as FileMaker Pro 1.0. And in September 1992, Claris released a cross-platform version for both the Mac and Windows; except for a few platform-specific functions, the program's features and user interface were the same. Up to this point FileMaker had no real relational capabilities; it was limited to automatically looking up and importing values from other files. It only had the ability to save a state—a filter and a sort, and a layout for the data. Version 3.0, released around 1995, introduced new relational and scripting features.

By 1995, FileMaker Pro was the only strong-selling product in Claris's lineup. In 1998, Apple moved development of some of the other Claris products in-house, dropped most of the rest, and changed Claris's name to FileMaker, Inc., to concentrate on that product.

1.2. Later Updates

Version 4.0, introduced in 1997, added a plug-in architecture much like that of Adobe Photoshop, which enabled third-party developers to add features to FileMaker. A bundled plug-in, the Web Companion, allowed the database to act as a web server. Other plug-ins added features to the interface and enabled FileMaker to serve as an FTP client, perform external file operations, and send messages to remote FileMaker files over the Internet or an intranet.

Version 7, released in 2004, introduced a new file format (file extension .fp7) supporting file sizes up to 8 terabytes (an increase from the 2 gigabytes allowed in previous versions). Individual fields could hold up to 4 gigabytes of binary data (container fields) or 2 gigabytes of 2-byte Unicode text per record (up from 64 kilobytes in previous versions). FileMaker's relational model was enriched, offering multiple tables per file and a graphical relationship editor that displayed and allowed manipulation of related tables in a manner that resembled the entity-relationship diagram format. Accompanying these foundational changes, FileMaker Inc. also introduced a developer certification program.

In 2005 FileMaker Inc. announced the FileMaker 8 product family, which offered the developer an expanded feature set. These included a tabbed interface, script variables, tooltips, enhanced debugging, custom menus, and the ability to copy and paste entire tables and field definitions, scripts, and script steps within and between files. Version 8.5, released in 2006, added an integrated web viewer (with the ability to view such things as shipment tracking information from FedEx and Wikipedia entries) and named layout objects.

FileMaker 9, released on July 10, 2007, introduced a quick-start screen, conditional formatting, fluid layout auto-resizing, hyperlinked pointers into databases, and external SQL links. FileMaker 10 was released on January 5, 2009, before that year's Macworld Conference & Expo, and offered scripts that can be triggered by user actions and a redesigned user interface similar to that of Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) applications.

FileMaker 11, released on March 9, 2010, introduced charting, which was further streamlined in FileMaker 12, released April 4, 2012. That version also added themes, more database templates (so-called starter solutions) and simplified creation of iOS databases. FileMaker Go 11 (July 20, 2010) and FileMaker Go 12 for iPhone and iPad (April 4, 2012) allow only the creation, modification, and deletion of records on these handheld devices. Design and schema changes must be made within the full FileMaker Pro application. FileMaker Go 12 offers multitasking, improved media integration, export of data to multiple formats and enhanced container fields.

FileMaker 13, released after the launches of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks (10.9), first shipped in December 2013. The client and server products were enhanced to support many mobile and web methods of data access. FileMaker Go 13, the parallel iPad–iPhone product, has now become a single client for both devices, and the Server Admin tool now runs in HTML5, no longer requiring a Java app.

FileMaker 14 platform released on May 15, 2015.[3] This included FileMaker Pro 14, FileMaker Pro 14 Advanced, FileMaker Server 14 and FileMaker Go 14. This was followed by version 15 in May 2016 and version 16 in May 2017; both including equivalent Pro, Pro Advanced, Server and Go versions.

In late 2016, FileMaker began annually publicizing a software roadmap of future features they are working on as well as identifying features they are moving away from or may deprecate in the near future.

FileMaker Inc. had always had a hard time describing what FileMaker software is because it is more than just a database; it includes the user interface, security, rapid application development tools, etc. FileMaker Inc. initiated a new marketing program at their annual developers conference in August 2018 to address its poor description categories: "Workplace Innovation Platform".

1.3. Version History

Date Version Comment[4]
Apr 1985 FileMaker v1.0 Published by Forethought Inc.
1986 FileMaker Plus Published by Forethought Inc.
Jun 1988 FileMaker 4 Published by Nashoba Systems
Aug 1988 FileMaker II First version to be published by Claris Corporation
Oct 1990 FileMaker Pro  
Oct 1992 FileMaker Pro 2 Windows version added
Aug 1993 FileMaker Pro 2.1  
Jul 1994 FileMaker Pro Server 2  
Dec 1995 FileMaker Pro 3 Relational architecture, TCP/IP networking introduced
Jan 1996 FileMaker Pro Server 3  
Sep 1997 FileMaker Pro 4 Plug-in architecture introduced
May 1998 FileMaker Pro 4 Developer Edition Last version to be published by Claris. Aimed at expert/professional FileMaker users.
Jun 1999 FileMaker Pro 4.1v2 First version to be published by FileMaker, Inc.[5]
Sep 1999 FileMaker Pro 5  
Nov 1999 FileMaker Server 5  
Apr 2001 FileMaker Pro 5.5 Native support for Mac OS X
Sep 2002 FileMaker Pro 6* Last version to support Mac OS 8 and 9
Mar 2004 FileMaker Pro 7 Multiple tables/file architecture introduced;
multiple windows; relationships graph; calc variables;
Improved security with individual accounts and passwords
introduced new file format .fp7; Mac version requires Mac OS X.
Aug 2005 FileMaker Pro 8* Scriptable creation of PDF reports;[6] script variables; tabs on layouts
Jan 2006 FileMaker Mobile 8 FileMaker Mobile line discontinued
Jul 2006 FileMaker Pro 8.5* Mac OS X Universal Binary support, embedded browser (Web Viewer), object names
Jul 2007 FileMaker Pro/Server 9* Native support for the SQL databases MS SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle. Conditional formatting
Jan 2009 FileMaker Pro/Server 10* Status area now horizontal; script triggering
Mar 2010 FileMaker Pro/Server 11* Charts, snapshot link, filtered portals, and recurring imports
Jul 2010 FileMaker Go 1.0 FileMaker for iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch)
Sep 2010 FileMaker Go 1.1 PDF creation, photo support, import from FileMaker Pro
Apr 2011 FileMaker Go 1.2 Printing, signature capture, charts, enhanced PDF creation
Sep 2011 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 11.0v4* Lion compatibility, fully implemented by October 2011
Apr 2012 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 12 Integrated themes (Pro/iOS); floating and modal windows;
execute SQL; enhanced container field; improved charting
FileMaker Server 12 64-bit, faster WAN, progressive backups, rewritten web publishing engine, support for external container storage in files outside of the database
FileMaker Go 12 iOS client is now free. Supports the .fmp12 file format.
Dec 2013 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 13 WebDirect and HTML5 features; better mobile app development;
enhanced GUI design tools, themes and behaviors; more dynamic data refreshing, "Hide object when..." layout object option based on calculation, encryption at rest (EAR 256bit AES) data protection, new summary list feature, enhanced ExecuteSQL expressions, perform script on server script step, 256bit SSL client server connection
FileMaker Go 13 Free universal client for iPhones and iPads supports iOS 6 and iOS 7. Supports barcode scanning from camera.
FileMaker Server 13 FileMaker WebDirect, Perform Script on Server, Platform Security; new HTML5 Admin Console replaced need for Java
May 2015 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 14 Script workspace, Button bar, Tooltips in layout mode, Launch Center
FileMaker Server 14 Standby server, FileMaker Pro auto-reconnect, WebDirect support for Android
FileMaker Go 14 Improved signature capture, iOS 8-style interface, Video/audio controls, Keyboard control, Rich editing
May 2016 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 15 In-Product Updates, Portal In-line Progress Bar, Concealed Edit Box, Script Workspace highlighting and unlimited undo
FileMaker Server 15 External SQL Support extended to DB2 and PostgreSQL, SSL Certificate installation made easier, eliminated shared hosting, Licensing for Teams
FileMaker Go 15 iOS SDK, Touch ID and 3D Touch, App Extensions and iBeacons
Sept 2016 FileMaker Cloud 1.0 FileMaker Server via Amazon Web Services (AWS) running on CentOS Linux
May 2017 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 16 Layout Objects window (control layers in layouts), Cards feature (better control of prompts), cURL support added for "Insert from URL" function (HTTP/S methods such as POST/GET), JSON text manipulation functions, data viewer auto calc
FileMaker Server 16 REST-based FileMaker Data API, WebDirect browser support scalability up to 500 concurrent users, PDF generation on server and WebDirect, OAuth 2.0 support (Amazon, Google, Microsoft) at the Security layer
FileMaker Go 16 Enhanced signature capture, geofence, plugin compatibility, animations and transitions
May 2018 FileMaker Pro Advanced 17 No more FileMaker Pro without Advanced tools, Pre-made add-on tables to templates, Layout modification tool improvements, sensor support (barometer, GPS etc), Self-Lookup table for Master-detail layouts, multiple email attachments, new data migration tool (separate application).
FileMaker Server 17 redesigned server admin console with dashboard, new Admin API, new Data API completely re-written from v16.
FileMaker Go 17 FileMaker Go push notifications, auto-complete, drag and drop, improved iOS app SDK
May 2019 FileMaker Pro Advanced 18 New user interface for importing data, open specific app at launch, file-based script steps, script error logging, while calculation function, SetRecursion calculation function, new managed security access privilege, new manage security dialog box, plug-in security enhancements, default file access protection.
FileMaker Server 18 Startup Restoration automatically restores files after a crash, FileMaker Server Admin Console enhancements, server monitoring enhancements, FileMaker Data API enhancements, FileMaker Admin API is now standard, Spanish language support.
FileMaker Go 18 Open specific app at launch, append to existing PDF, enhanced barcode support.

* (*) indicates both FileMaker Pro / FileMaker Pro Advanced (Developer Edition in v4-6) or FileMaker Server / FileMaker Server Advanced

FileMaker files are compatible between Mac and Windows. File type extensions are:

  • .fm since FileMaker Pro 2.0
  • .fp3 since FileMaker Pro 3.0
  • .fp5 since FileMaker Pro 5.0 (including 5, 5.5, 6.0)
  • .fp7 since FileMaker Pro 7.0 (including 7, 8, 8.5, 9, 10, 11 and FileMaker Go 1.0)
  • .fmp12 since FileMaker Pro 12 (including 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18)

Self-running applications (runtime, kiosk mode) are platform-specific only.

2. Internationalization and Localization

FileMaker is available in worldwide English, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.

There are also specific versions of FileMaker for users of Central European, Indian and Middle Eastern languages. These versions offer spellchecking, data entry, sorting and printing options for languages of the respective region. They also contain localized templates and localized instant web publishing.

The Central European version FileMaker includes English, Russian, Polish, Czech and Turkish interfaces. There are customized templates for Russian, Polish, Czech, Turkish. In addition Russian, Greek, Estonian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Hungarian are supported to varying degrees.

The version intended for Southeast Asian languages has only an English user interface, but supports Indic-language data entry, sorting and indexing in Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Panjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

Similarly, the Middle Eastern version has only English and French user interfaces, but with its option to change the text direction to right-to-left, it does support Arabic and Hebrew data entry.

3. Scripting

FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Pro Advanced include scripting capabilities and a variety of built-in functions for automation of common tasks and complex calculations. Numerous steps are available for navigation, conditional execution of script steps, editing records, and other utilities. FileMaker Pro Advanced provides a script debugger which allows the developer to set break points, monitor data values and step through script lines.

FileMaker 13 introduced a useful script that more deeply queries container field document metadata.

3.1. Dynamic Markup Language

The FileMaker Dynamic Markup Language or FDML was a markup language used in the earlier versions of FileMaker introduced in 1998. FDML is also often referred to as Claris Dynamic Markup Language or CDML, named after its former company Claris. FDML was an extension of HTML that used special tags, such as [FMP-Record][/FMP-Record] to display FileMaker data on Web pages. FileMaker officially dropped support for FDML in 2004.

4. SQL and ODBC Support

FileMaker, since version 9, includes the ability to connect to a number of SQL databases without resorting to using SQL, including MySQL, SQL Server, and Oracle. This requires installation of the SQL database ODBC driver (in many cases a third-party license per client driver) to connect to a SQL database. SQL databases can be used as data sources in FileMaker's relationship graph, thus allowing the developer to create new layouts based on the SQL database; create, edit, and delete SQL records via FileMaker layouts and functions; and reference SQL fields in FileMaker calculations and script steps. It is a cross-platform relational database application.

Versions from FileMaker Pro 5.5 onwards also have an ODBC interface.

FileMaker 12 introduced a new function, ExecuteSQL, which allows the user to perform an SQL query against the FileMaker database to retrieve data, but does not allow data modification or deletion, or schema changes.[7]

One major flaw with ODBC support is the lack of one-to-one field-type mapping from FileMaker to external industry-standard databases. Further issues are caused by the fact that FileMaker is not "strict" in its data types. A FileMaker field can be marked as "numeric" and will return this mapping to an ODBC driver; however, FileMaker allows non-numeric characters to be stored in this "numeric" field type unless the field is specifically marked as strictly "numeric".

5. Integration

FileMaker 16 empowers integrations via cURL, JSON, REST-based FileMaker Data API support. Tableau Web Data Connector is offered to visualize FileMaker data. The REST-based API license is a free trial that expired September 27, 2018. FileMaker 17 offers a permanent REST-based Data API. Standard licensing include 2GB of outbound data per user per month. Container data does not count towards this limit, and inbound Data API data transfer is unlimited.


  1. Glenn Koenig (August 7, 2015). "The Origin of FileMaker". Retrieved August 7, 2015. 
  2. "Nashoba Systems and the Early Days of FileMaker Pro". Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  3. "FileMaker Release History". 
  4. Mike Weber (September 15, 2008). "FileMaker History". Low End Mac. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  5. "". November 19, 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  6. Cohen, Dennis R. (2006). FileMaker Pro 8.5 Bible. John Wiley & Sons. p. 354. ISBN 9780470109618. 
  7. "ExecuteSQL". Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
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