FileMaker replacement

Huh? This statement seems almost like a it is contradicting itself. If Apple has distain for consumer market, its has certainly let down the pro market with dropping Aperature. Although they give a great base for pro software development, they don’t seem much in the pro market, except for Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro (unless neophyte me that isn’t in other fields and not aware). And they definitely do support the consumer market with many apps that they give away.


Huh? How would you reach this server, unless you had two LANS connected to your in-use computer? One LAN with this server and air gapped by the internet, and the other that is connected to the internet. You’d need to switch WiFi access points or ethernet cables. And the that would preclude accessing it when away or on your mobile device when away.

Quite the contrary. Around 1992 I was ‘Financial Secretary’ for our church, we also had a treasurer. The FS took all the ‘pledges’, kept track of all the offerings, and special offerings (one which was all year), plus report monthly to the church council (and Treasurer), quarterly statements to members to catch errors (and compare offerings to pledge), and yearly statement for tax purposes. The previous person did everything by hand, and developing a computer solution is why I took on the position, though I had very little DB experience. I did it at first using a flat small database program Record Holder Plus, which I designed very quickly, but was missing a lot, but helped me gain what all the needs were. As I looked for DB solutions (I had no idea what a relational DB was, but learned quickly) FileMaker did not seem to give me the flexibility I thought I needed and to my recollection was not relational (confirmed in writeup in Wikipedia (FileMaker - Wikipedia), I looked at something called dBase for Mac that was very gui oriented, relational, but also seemed somewhat inflexible. As an example of its power, it included an editable genealogy application, where parents and children entered for a persons referred to other entries into the same database. Another church member and Mac aficionado, but with less programing experience, bought, then gifted FoxBase to the church when he realized it was too much for him. I studied its examples and capabilities, and BINGO, this was my solution. It was based on dBase II and III, kind of like writing an ordinary language but with all these DB calls to DB functions and modules you write. I incorporated such things as when entering each weeks offerings, just having to start typing a member’s name to bring up their full name, something I think would be difficult to implement in FileMaker (I guess maybe using a pull down menu?). I continued to improve it a year or two, then my wife took over, and was a great beta tester. We had a disagreement with the church and left, and Window centric user took over as the FS. Somehow she was given or obtained a Mac LC to use, and was fairly clueless how to operate, of course my ‘program’ did not have a user manual. I had to use a hardware printer converter to convert the printer port to parallel port for her HP printer, which slowed down the printing of quarterly reports tremendously. She and the treasurer and the church then went to a bigger program or at least started looking for such. Thinking just now, 25 years later as I write this, I should have ported this program to Windows, as FoxBase + had a Windows version.

I later did a FileMaker Pro 4.0 application to track and report ALL the of the “Popcorn Kernel” needs for a Cub Scout Pack. I showed it to the local BSA office popcorn lead. Unfortunately I only had a PowerBook 160, grey scale screen, not color, to demonstrate so he was little impressed. Unfortunately I had already bought the FileMaker Pro version to generate compiled apps for Mac and Windows, but this went nowhere.

Much later, like three years ago, I offered to help a lady running for school board. I have a Ricoh SP C410DN color laser printer and could printout ‘postcard’ flyers (4 on a 8.5 x 11 sheet) to mail to citizens in her district. They were going to print out labels to attach to the post cards. I told them NO, I’d just print out the addresses directly onto the cards. They sent me an Excel file of names and addresses. I considered getting a new version of FileMaker to do this but was quickly stopped in my tracks when I learned of the price, I think there was also some problem getting a version that would run on Mojave. I resorted to firing up the 'ol G4 Powerbook with FM 6? on it to do this small project.


Thank you for this information. I had never heard about FoxBase but knew about dBase. The issue I with dBase was that it really required scripting/programming to be able to really invoke its capabilities. I also know about 4D but has always been priced out of reach for individual users, but still exists and I believe runs on current versions of MacOS other than Ventura which is officially not as yet released. I started with Filemaker 2 and as a Claris Tech Support Agent for 9 years supported during that period and updated my own copy of Filemaker through Filemaker 16 that still works on Big Sur. At that point it became simply to expensive for me to keep up-to-date. So while less capable, DevonThink Pro is able to provide most of my database needs. With Filemaker 6 I was even able to create a GUI database for my wine collection that presentd a picture of my storage racks and by clicking on an individual compartment I was able to retrieve a record of what was in it. If my memory serves me correctly, Filemaker, now Claris again, has finally seen the light and is planning or already has released personal version of their database at a more affordable price for individual users. However I am very hesitant to even consider it give the products previous history and its/Apple’s history of myopic greed.

Please show me the CONSUMER database application that Apple has released to replace the database module of AppleWorks? The word processor module was replaced by “Pages”, the spreadsheet module by “Numbers”, and the presentation module by “KeyNote”. The database module (and the drawing & paint modules) was not replaced by an equivalent or better application. Oh, they did for a very short time have the farcical “Bento” so-called database for consumers but pulled it after 5 years.


Yes. FileMaker was a single-table/flat-file database until version 7. Version 7 introduced the concept of multiple tables in a single file, allowing relational databases to be created.

dBase III (I used it on MS-DOS) was relational, sort-of. Each database file was a single table, but there were operations where you could load multiple databases and let access to one table select rows in another. It worked, in a primitive (by today’s standard) fashion.

The biggest problem with dBase III was that in order to do anything complicated, you pretty much have to write code. Its programming language isn’t difficult, but the interpreter was very slow. Fortunately, the company I was doing this for had purchased a license for Clipper a compiler for the dBase programming language (actually for a greatly enhanced version of the language) that provided the speed necessary to make apps run well. Unfortunately Clipper was always an MS-DOS (later Windows) product, so it was never available for Mac users.

It was single file/single table but from version 3 relationships could be created across files/tables. Version 7 introduced the multi-table file format and the relationship gui.


Pretty much the same for FoxBase +. But as David C. Shamino said the language is pretty easy to pick up. I had only had two semesters of Fortran, some Basic and page formatting language I had taught myself. If you can write scripts or macros for anything you are 3/4 of the way there. I feel the programming capabilities add so much flexibilities and actually probably make it easier in the long run than doing everything via a gui.

@phillman5 as a retired pastor with 45 years in the pastorate, I just want to thank you for your service to the church. People like you are the lifeblood of congregations and I would have loved having you in my congregation. Way to go!!

Oh, and I too used FileMaker to create a relational database for membership, church records, financial data and making mail labels. Loved that relational aspect of FM!

Thanks again.


Apple doesn’t want to do everything, they do want third party developers to have a piece of the pie. They only develop software to sell computers to the biggest crowd, I guess a free db offering wouldn’t sell that many more computers. Pay a third party for something, seems to me there have been several third party DBs discussed here. As far as paint and draw, I never used them, I used SuperPaint that combined both, and could have both on the same drawing, it was way better. I also used Claris Cad, but I don’t think it made the jump to the RISC chips.


Mentioned this to my wine consuming wife. She immediately said wouldn’t you want a pull down of all your wines in stock then have that show you which bin its in?
True Joke: We were on a short cruise with my brother and sister and significant others. Checking in my wife and sister went over to pick a wine package. My sister picked a package, and wine steward replied, “ma’am you know this is only a three day cruise.” My sister replied, “oh, I guess we could later come back and order another package if needed can’t we?”

In all of these discussions, I’ve read no mention of 4th Dimension (4D) relational database, I used it extensively when FileMaker got too pricey. Found it easy to use. Built all sorts of relational databases, but it’s been years since. Is it still a viable replacement for Filemaker?

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Look again, 4D was mentioned several times. And they say its still available.

Sorry, guess I missed it.

Pretty comprehensive article in Wikipedia covering 4D’s 38 years (!!) of development. Listed under “4th Dimension.” I remember how it dominated the marketplace for DBMSs for Mac in the late 80s/early 90s, and Guy Kawasaki’s enthusiastic involvement. Laurent and 4D Inc. seem to be very much active.

It is curious that a basic relational database application is not available for the individual Apple user for a reasonable price. Individuals do use Excel/Numbers for managing data for their personal and community interests, but Excel is no data base application even for mailing lists and community group records.

In the ‘early days’ there were a number of Mac offerings but these fell by the wayside. Windows users have Microsoft Access, which was a dog of a program, but has steady improved to be quite useable at the consumer level. But recent feature enhancements and the 365 emphasis means it is going the way of FileMaker and towards corporate clients.

I have been using FileMaker almost since its beginning both for work and private use. But it has become an industrial product (for commercial and government use) and has become very expensive for the solo user.

Because I am a data base nerd, I have built and maintain a number of FileMaker databases for personal use. I have the latest version of FileMaker, which hit my wallet hard and which has many features that I will never need or use.

Because I have created relations in my databases, I am almost obliged to stay with FileMaker. I cannot find a consumer level database application that is relational and that will let me move away from FileMaker with ease and happiness. I have been following these posts with interest hoping that someone has found a solution for me.

One comment said that Apple leaves space for third party developers to have a go, but no third party developers are in sight. Maybe Apple could divert its programmers who waste time designing yet more emojis to designing a consumer level database application. I think there would be enough of a demand if marketed well.

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Interesting. In 1998 when I opened two dermatology clinics in NW Arkansas, I used ‘Knowledge Is Power’ as our EHR on bondi iMacs and PowerPC servers. The backbone was 4D. Haven’t heard much of it since. Closed offices after 911 and rejoined the VAMC. Seemed to work pretty good for scheduling and billing and such. Best, Patrick

I think you’re probably in luck.

As rumoured/expected the ‘free’ vs of Filemaker/Claris looks set to launch. For the moment, we don’t know what the restrictions will be. My guess is that it will be on number of computers that can access it, but mostly on connectivity. So if you don’t need connectivity, you will probably be able to use it for free. I suppose the idea for Claris, is to encourage all sorts of people to start trying it out at zero cost and that they’ll find it’s a really good way to get what they want and will end up paying for the unrestricted vs.

LibreOffice Base is a front-end to a wide variety of relational/SQL engines. It includes HSQL, a cross-platform Java-based back-end, and includes drivers to support many others including the open source MariaDB/MySQL and Postgress.

It’s not as user-friendly as FileMaker, but in my experience, nothing on any platform comes close to that bar.

That’s interesting to know David. I’ve been using FM since v2, but have only ever given cursory glances at alternatives. It is an amazingly deep app, thanks largely to its age I suppose. So good to see them doing something about their crazy price strategy to open it up to a much larger base.