FileMaker Pro has “Staying Power”

December 28, 2021

And why that is both good and bad!


FileMaker was officially started in April of 1985. That is over 36 years ago! There are not many software programs that are still around since that time. That is something really amazing about FileMaker. It originally started as a DOS-based program before that time, and was called “Nutshell”. But then Claris bought it and named it FileMaker in 1985, which marks its official start.

Why FileMaker’s staying power is good!

As a FileMaker development shop based in Minneapolis, we regularly encounter clients who are still using very, very old versions of FileMaker. Sometimes clients come to us with FileMaker 16, 13, 11, 7, or even 5! still operating for them. In most of these cases, they have had to keep the old hardware in order to be able to keep running the software which they use for their business. I had one client who was still using FM5, and the gigantic and ancient PC towers which he used to run the software were so old that the fans were sputtering and making a tremendous racket just to keep spinning. He came to us just in the nick of time, so that we could upgrade him to a newer version of FileMaker, and import all of his old business data, just before the machines finally gave up the ghost.

In fact, we also have to keep old hardware lying around with older versions of operating systems running on them, so that we can use old versions of FileMaker to upgrade someone to the newer versions of FileMaker. We are at a point now, that we sometimes have to do a two-version upgrade to get someone from ancient FileMaker versions, to just very old versions of FileMaker, so that we can then move them up to the current version of FileMaker!

But despite the challenges, it is really a very good thing that FileMaker is such a robust program that it can keep on working for decades. People have businesses to run, and for many businesses, all of that customer and work order data is precious to them. They depend upon it for their livelihood. They need software that will ‘keep on keeping on’ for them through the years. FileMaker Pro is just such a software. It is really amazing. If you were to try to port data from almost any other old piece of software into a new version, in most cases, you would not be able to do so, or you would get gibberish. But not with FileMaker. Using the upgrade tools that come with FileMaker it is often possible to do a nearly flawless upgrade from one old version of data into a new version, and still have access to the original data. I don’t think most people appreciate how absolutely amazing that is. Let’s give a big Thank You to the engineers at Claris who were able to build such a robust system into FileMaker Pro.

Now having said how great it is that FileMaker has Staying Power, we also have to see this from the other side as well:

Why FileMaker’s staying power can be a problem!

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. And just because you can keep using the same copy of FileMaker Pro for decades doesn’t mean that you should. It is not ultimately going to be good for your business. What does it say about the importance you attach to your business data if you keep on using the same old software and hardware and never upgrade?

I understand as much as the next guy the need for small businesses to save money, but there comes a point where you simply must bite the bullet and invest in the infrastructure for your business. If you want your business to succeed through the years, you have to keep investing in it. People naturally upgrade their buildings, their signage, their marketing, their staff, but for some reason think that they do not have to do the same with all of their data systems and software. This is not safe or smart to do so.

America, it is time to upgrade!

If you care about your business and want to see it keep growing and improving, then you will invest the time and money you need to help it improve. And this includes software and hardware to keep it humming along at optimum efficiency. Don’t wait too long, or it could spell disaster for your business data.