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Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: Winston
Date: June 22, 2019 10:21PM
Years ago I got drafted as membership chair for our neighborhood association. I created a new directory in FileMaker Pro that included not only every house in the neighborhood (then about 880 homes), vs. the previous one that only had those who'd paid dues that year, but also did a sort by street, and included kids by age. I used FileMaker Pro for entering the data, formatting the directory, even generating dues individualized dues notices.

I then volunteered to create a "mini-directory" for my kids' primary school. What they'd been using up to then was copied pages from an Excel spreadsheet. I imported the data, made it jump through hoops to get the formatting I wanted, and produced quite a nice small directory. Later I did the same for one of my kid's secondary school.

Now we just have a personal contacts database in FMP. I'm on FMP 9.0, which usually quits on startup on El Capitan, but then opens correctly the second time I try. FileMaker Corp wants something like $550 for a single-seat license for the current version. Yikes.

I've been in touch with FileMaker Corp. a few times in recent years. It appears they have zero interest in folk like me who use the program as a volunteer or solely for personal use. Why they don't offer an equivalent to Microsoft Office for Home & Student, with some reduced capability, is beyond me. Probably don't see the market as large enough to justify providing support to "stupid" end users.

So, anyone have a suggestion for a reasonably priced alternative to FileMaker Pro?


- Winston

Be seeing you.
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Re: Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: June 22, 2019 10:38PM
Oh man, I spent time with FileMaker Pro _years_ ago. I wonder what their product / market is like at this point.

If I was starting from scratch on a project like this, I'd look at [] or similar.

You might be able to install an older version of OS X in Virtual Box and just continue using your older version of FMP.* Sounds like your main complaint is that it doesn't work with newer OSes. Nothing wrong with sticking with what you know.

* This idea might sound crazy but its become the standard way to deploy online services. Make your OS part of your app config and have the OS run only one app. Much better than navigating a config nightmare.

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Re: Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: tlh828
Date: June 23, 2019 05:22AM
Filemaker, about once a year, offers a 2-for-1 deal; they did so recently for Filemaker Advanced 18, an opportunity to cut the price in half if you can find another interested party.

(I'm on Filemaker Advanced 17, having gone through Filemaker Advanced 8,9, and 12. I need the scripting and debugging capabilities of the Advanced versions.)

Panorama would be a good and highly capable replacement and their pricing system could be much more advantageous to you. Like you, I balked at the licensing costs of Filemaker Advanced and seriously considered Panorama but in the end folded and continued with Filemaker. Starting from scratch, Panorama would have been just as good, maybe better.
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Re: Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: Winston
Date: June 23, 2019 10:14AM
Thanks for the suggestion on Panorama. I looked at it yesterday, and it does look good. Not wild about the subscription model, but if I remember correctly, they don't charge you for any month where you don't use the program. I wonder if that includes just looking up someone's address. I could live with Panorama's fees if I only got charged when I was doing programming (setting up a database or doing layout). It wouldn't work well for me if I got charged for a month just for looking up a an address or two. Right now I'm not using FileMaker Pro a lot, but do look up entries from time to time.

A couple or three years ago I almost pulled the trigger on the FileMaker 2 for 1 deal. At that time I think FMP was something like $375. The price has gone up a lot since then. Seems like it's only oriented toward large organizations at this point, which is really sad.

Good luck.

- Winston

Be seeing you.
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Re: Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: Robert M
Date: June 23, 2019 10:54AM

I take advantage of the FileMaker Pro BOGO deal once in a while. If you don't need anything as capable as FileMaker Pro, there are definitely alternatives. Panorama. The database component of LibreOffice. Tapforms. My older brother uses Tapforms for basic data management. Think in terms of managing contacts and such. He's very happy with it. He chose it after Filemaker Inc discontinued Bento, which was a super-scaled back Filemaker-like application. That and sometimes you see stores like OWC, Small Dog Electronics, MegaMacs and other shops offer older versions of Filemaker at a discounted price.

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Re: Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: DeusxMac
Date: June 23, 2019 11:20AM
I know nothing about it, but Ninox Database at the App Store gets a 4.2/5 rating.
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Re: Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: numbered
Date: June 23, 2019 12:23PM
I have been trailing along with not quite current versions available on Fleabay. Currently using FMP 16, which I found for $120 or so. Similar needs, supporting volunteer orgs.
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Re: Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: freeradical
Date: June 23, 2019 04:23PM
M$ Access under Windows.

If you want free, SQLite is baked into the operating system. The "Lite" part of the name is kind of a misnomer. What "Lite" means here, is that the database creates stand alone databases that are visible to you in the filesystem. What it's not is a database server, where your databases are invisible to you unless you export them in some way. This is good for the home user. SQLite is a full blown relational database.

Invoke it at the the terminal like so:


Here you go

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Re: Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: anonymouse1
Date: June 23, 2019 06:44PM
By a newer, but not newest, version of FileMaker that works with your OS?
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Re: Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: rich in distress
Date: June 23, 2019 06:46PM
Back in the day, I used AppleWorks to build a DB that involved information and calculations.
It was a fine solution for the needs, and I have not been able to replace it.
I thought Bento would be a permanent solution, but restarting in whatever supported configuration/machine got me by long enough to see Bento terminated.
iWorks is marginally doing the job now, but is not as flexible as a database app, and I have not implemented the placeholder feature to substitute mailmerge.
Thanks for all this info (raised brow RE:a VM, just to keep using AppleWorks).
And my not too exciting contribution: if you can get by with the default in MacOS, fields can be created and/or used in any way you need (prefix field for last date of payment).
A dedicated user can be created in any machine you have, and include the db file into your user backup.

• back to confinement

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Re: Alternative to FileMaker Pro?
Posted by: datbeme
Date: June 24, 2019 02:06AM
I'm looking for alternatives too. Oh, the time and money I've thrown at FM over the years. Usually skipping several versions in between but then ponying up for the full retail version to maintain OS compatibility or do what was necessary to bridge the various formats.

I've weaned myself off of it and currently maintain just a few noncritical databases in v. 12, but I recently had to help my dad open several simple but important FMP 1.0 files. Took me a few hours of wizardry utilizing old versions, trial versions, and installing an old OS on an ancient laptop with an almost unusable damaged screen, but I did it. That was enough to turn me off of FM forever.

Honestly, if I can keep running El Cap in a virtual environment, I'd be happy with v. 12 going forward. But i think it's time to start from scratch. I will look into Panorama.
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