FileMaker replacement

Now that I am the happy owner of a new MacBookPro 14” to replace my 2012 MBP (stuck on Mojave), I discover that File Maker 15 won’t run on Monterey, even thought it is 64 bit.

I have been using FM for over 30 years and have many relational db’s which will need to be converted to a new platform. The cost of upgrading to a later version of FM is prohibitive for just a single user application. I’m tossing between using Panorama X or creating SQL dbs. Its been a very long time since I used SQL on IBM DB2 tables on IBM mainframes but I assume the concepts are still similar. I know what is involved in the conversion to Panorama, having looked at demo versions in the past and finding it similar to FM. But with SQL and tables I have no idea of the practical implications of running them on a Mac, and I have never seen SQL applications in real use on a personal computer (don’t get around much these days!).

As an interim solution, I will put FM 15 on an 2013 Mini, so I do have time to do the conversions.

Do any of the esteemed Tidbit Talk users, have any ideas or comments? Or maybe know of other database systems that can handle relational tables AND doesn’t run on the cloud? Thanks.


It’s a difficult decision. I’ve also been a Filemaker developer for about 25 years and I still have some things I support. With the move to a subscription model I’m very reluctant to start anything with Filemaker. I do have the latest version which can still be purchased as a standalone but I don’t expect that to always be the case.

As for alternatives, Panorama is interesting and has a unique pricing model (pay for the hours you use). It’s just never really grabbed me when I tested it. I can’t even put my finger on why.

Just today I started looking at building a new invoicing app with XOJO and SQLite. I’ve built several db apps with XOJO before but always with MySQL, I’ll need to read up on the SQLite implementation. It’s a LOT more work that Filemaker but I have more confidence I can maintain it for minimal cost and I can always export the data out if needed down the track.

I feel your pain. There is very little left for semi-pro hobbyists, self-employed developers, or just plain database people. A few months ago, after long reflection, I bit the bullet and upgraded to FMP 19, consistent with my practice of upgrading every 3 years (FMP 10, 13, 16, 19), which kept me in the window for updates at $300. Seems most people just do their “computing” on their phones these days.

Panorama might be a good way to go, but I didn’t want to chuck what FMP knowledge I’ve gained, and Panorama is rent-ware (a rather benign form, but still). It also looks what it is: dated. The developer still provides a free demo, and you could even “rent” it for a few months at low cost if you need more assessment time.

Have you done a search on “SQL” on the App Store? Quite a bit there to look at but evaluating might be tough, since it’s App Store.

4th Dimension (4D) is still being marketed after all these years, but at prices similar to Filemaker Pro.

If your databases don’t require connection with the internet, you might consider long term use of your obsolete computer(s) as dedicated servers–air-gapped from the internet, you shouldn’t get too many security concerns (if any).

Keep us updated with what you go with!


Actually, if the OP happened to have FMP Server (I know it’s unlikely) they could run it on the old machine as a web service and connect with a browser from the new machine.

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Thanks for your responses. I stopped upgrading FM after v15 when the costs became too high and I looked at alternatives. To buy a new licence will cost nearly $A800. Like Mark, I felt uncomfortable with Panorama X (maybe because I am not convinced of its longevity), so am currently looking at dbms. I came across Beekeeper, which had a great promo video, but again the product is only a couple of years old. There is a plethora of dbms with a gui out here. Do members have any favourites?

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I’ve always liked Sequel Pro (available as Sequel Ace on the app store) and MySQL/MariaDB. It’s been around for ages and gets updated fairly regularly.

As I wrote some time ago:
I know that this could be too nerdy, but probably the Mac community should be more aware of LibreOffice Base <>, a free and open-source relational database management system part of the LibreOffice suite. You can build interconnected forms from templates of all sorts. Being a relational DBMS, it has the full power of SQL beneath, and it can even connect to external relational database engines such as MySQL or PostgreSQL.
For work, I use for Mac (free complete preinstalled PostgrsSQL server app running on a Mac) as a backbone SQL RDBMS, and as Mac GUI app (free database tool for developers, database administrators, analysts and all people who need to work with databases). You can try, as an alternative to DBeaver, the much simpler to use and more friendly Mac GUI app (69$).


Tap Forms (Mac $50, iOS $17) is a relational DB that seems much more user friendly than LibreOffice or the SQL clients mentioned.

Its scripting language is based on Javascript. Its database store is a JSON DB called Couchbase Lite.

Importantly, the Tap Forms developer actively participates on his user forum.

I haven’t actually used Tap Forms, but I’ve been studying alternatives for when I upgrade to a MacOS on which my FileMaker 17 won’t run, and Tap Forms is my front runner.


I have used TapForms for years and it’s excellent! The developer is very responsive, too. Definitely worth giving a try if you’re evaluating options.

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Absolutely support TapForms. Have used it for years and find it wonderful to use. I have a number of large databases on that app and designed them with ease. Great functionality. Easy to use. Excellent tech support from the developer!! And it doesn’t cost a fortune. Highly recommend.


I have a similar problem. I’m using FMP 16 on Catalina now with a bundle of interconnected files that require a lot of scripts that I don’t want to even begin thinking about rebuilding in another app. My current MBP is likely on its last legs, so I will be getting a new one in a month or two. In order to keep going with these files, I will have to either upgrade to the latest FMP or find a used Mac that I can continue to run Catalina and my current FMP 16 on. It would only need to be connected to the internet a half dozen times a year, so security is not a big issue. Assuming I go that route, where should I look for a used machine that already has Catalina on it?

I purchased TapForms yesterday as I was able to get a Black Friday deal. I would have preferred to test it for a few weeks but at the price it seemed low risk.

It looks powerful but I can see it taking a while to get outside the Filemaker way of thinking. I believe I can get it to do what I want so it will be an interesting couple of weeks getting to know it.

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I don’t know anything about TapForms. Can it import FM files and layouts? Twenty years or so ago, I use FMPro for more complex tasks than I do now. At this point, I’m just keeping track of my checkbook and credit card purchases. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for FMPro and me.

After reading the docs, it appears it can import a csv file. There’s an option to choose a delimiter so I assume it could also do tab-delimited. I doubt there would be any way to import an FMP layout.

I don’t see any reason it couldn’t do cheque and credit card expenses but I can’t tell you absolutely because I haven’t explored it enough.

Rather than recreating data you’ve already stored elsewhere, Tap Forms allows for simple importing via Tap Forms Archive, Form Template, Records, Bento Template, or Contacts. Found under File, importing can help you quickly develop your forms, add hard-to-copy data, and streamline your workflow.

In this topic, we’ll cover how to import records into your database documents, and it all starts with a CSV or Excel XLSX file. By importing one of these file types, Tap Forms can understand the data within the file and convert them into records with field data. Utilizing the top row of your file as the field types, Tap Forms can seamlessly integrate your fields into a new form.

Quick question: Did you use the FileMaker Pro 19 upgrade from the Apple site ($199.95) to upgrade from 16 to 19? Thanks.

You may want to check out the TapForms Forums or drop the developer Brendan Duddridge a line. He is really good at responding but the Forums might be the best place to start.

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Jim Rea and Panorama have been around for close to 25 years but I don’t know what their future holds. Lots of folks like their DBMS. My only qualm, like others, is their rental ( again, relatively benign compared to some rental ware ) ware. The DB2 concepts translate ( I worked on DB2 and helped transition IMS DBs to DB2 back in the day ), so you should be good there. SQLite does have some DB size limits, so check into this before committing to a product using it. Good luck. Please post back with your decisions and results if possible. Brian

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I would advise against Panorama. If you don’t want to develop your own frontend, I recommend Ninox.

I’m not sure if this was directed at me but I upgraded by going directly to the Claris site and searching for the Single user copy which could be purchased as a standalone upgrade. It was $290 AUD and I only got it because I still support a large Filemaker solution for my former employer and they paid for it. I upgraded from FMP 18 IIRC.

If by “Apple” you meant “Claris,” then yes–that’s how I upgraded from FMP 16 to 19.