The Mortality of Software

There are many threads on Tidbits-Talk that deal with incompatibilities between ‘must-have’ software that is not updated to work with new environments. Jason Snell has written a great meditation on that situation.

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thank you Alan, that was a fantastic article. Really well written and, maybe, there is a sermon in there for me to steal ;-o

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Very nice article.

A sidenote is that I cannot run any of the multimedia software projects I worked on in the 90s. On the Mac side once Classic compatibility died so did the software. On the Windows side they were tied into a particular version of QuickTime, which eventually stopped working. At work I am archiving old QuarkXPress 3 & 4 files to the cloud, wondering if we could ever open them even if we wanted to.

For me mortality was Appleworks and Clarisworks. I had tons of material in those once great apps. Suddenly they were gone and I was stuck with MicroSoft, which meant my documents were no longer free but tied to a bloated collection of tools that slowed my work down. THought all was lost when years of backup files would not open in Apple’s own system - our whole church system was built on Appleworks. Thank heavens for LibreOffice I was able to restore and save large amounts of my work and continue using it thanks to Nisus Writer Pro and LibreOffice apps. Oh, and the demise of FileMaker Pro (well, could have upgraded but one can only sell their soul once at the price of that once great program). Anyone want a once great church membership relational database that outlasted its creator??? Talk about mortality!!! Sorry. . .

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FIleMaker is expensive to upgrade, but you only have to actually upgrade when a HW/SW upgrade forces you to.

I used FMP version 4 for 6-7 years until upgrading my Mac from PowerPC to Intel forced an upgrade. Then I got version 10, which worked for another 9 years until purchasing a new Mac (running Catalina) forced another upgrade.

Yes, $540 is a huge amount of money for a software product, but if divided over the 8 years I expect to be able to use it ($67.50/year), I don’t think it’s that bad.

Mind you, if you think you need to purchase every new version, then the cost-over-time is going to end up much greater. But it’s been my experience that you don’t really need to do that. Even when Claris says a version is unsupported by newer macOS releases, it seems to keep on working just fine.

I fully expect that my next FileMaker upgrade won’t happen until I upgrade my Mac (which I just purchased a few months ago) to an M1 system and Apple stops shipping Rosetta. Then I’ll need to buy an ARM-native build of FileMaker for whatever price they are charging at that time. My prediction (based on past experience) is that Apple will drop Rosetta in 2-3 years and that they will stop supporting Intel-compatible macOS in 5-6 years, and I’ll actually want to replace the computer 2-3 years after that.

In other words, it all depends on how you look at it. An expensive product that you replace very infrequently isn’t really that expensive in the long run.

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What really, really ticks me off is that the last version of FileMaker I bought is version 11, and it does everything I need or want it to do. And I’m pretty much retired now, so it’s not like I have various databases open on my Mac every day. But I do have databases I need to have access to. So it looks like l’m stuck, and there are lots and lots of other things I’d rather spend $540 on.

No disagreement here. I use FileMaker entirely for personal purposes, so it really hurts when they dropped the non-Advanced version, forcing me to buy a pile of features I’ll never use.

But the alternative, porting my data to a new system, is even more painful. I could probably export the text fields to SQL or something else importable into another database, but I’ve also got images stored in my databases, and I have not found any practical mechanism for migration of that data to another package.

So I spent $540 and I hope I won’t have to spend that much again for another 10 years.

I am not a FileMaker user. Not even a database user. But it sounds like the company isn’t keeping their software compatible with newer versions of Mac OS or new hardware.

A moral question: In a situation like what you describe, where you are forced into paying for features you don’t want or need, would you pirate the software if you could do so? Or do you fork over $540?

The problem is that Apple changes the macOS system software in ways that breaks old apps. It happened when Rosetta was removed in Mac OS X 10.7 (breaking all PowerPC apps) and then in 10.15 (breaking all 32-bit apps). And it will likely happen again in the future when Rosetta 2 gets dropped (which will break all Intel apps).

FileMaker updates their software every year or so and they use this mechanism to remain current. But it’s unreasonable to expect them to re-issue an old version (e.g. 4 or 11) in order to remain compatible with a macOS update when those versions have been unsupported for many many years.

No I would not pirate the software. I would (and did) pay the $540. If I couldn’t afford it, then I’d look into another solution. Maybe switch to a different product. Maybe run an older macOS in a VM in order to run the version I’ve got. Maybe see if anybody is selling a (legal) copy of an older version for a lower price (e.g. version 18 is the last non-Advanced version sold and it is 64-bit).

It’s not my right as a customer to demand anything of a publisher. They insist in charging $540 for an application and that’s their right. If I don’t think it’s worth that much, then I need to go buy something else and deal with whatever problems that may create (which may cost me well over $540 in terms of time and aggravation as I migrate my data).

It’s really not as bad as it sounds. Not long ago (maybe still, haven’t checked myself) you could buy perfectly legal licenses for FM Pro 16 on Amazon for about $150. Version 16 is 64-bit so it runs just fine on Catalina and Big Sur.

When I moved to Catalina I upgraded from my old FM Pro 11 that I had bought many years ago. If I break down $150 over those several years, I’m pretty sure that’s peanuts compared to what most pay for streaming TV in just a couple months.

Fortunately, I no longer need FM Pro but did purchase FM Pro 16 a bit ago and it is nice to have that available. I did so when my long ago former church had reached the end of the usability of the antiquated version they had. I was going to open it in 16 and find ways to port the info over for them, but it became a nonissue for them, thank goodness. My go to database app is Tapp Forms 5 which has been great for me and is also relational. But I still miss the ease and functionality of the earliest FM Pro where our office staff could easily design powerful tools for committees and groups. Appreciate the input on this thread, too!!

Thank you David. I see the logic but I have retired and so need only simple databases that Tap Forms fully meets. FM Pro was fun in its day though lol.

They are very diligent about updating their software, and FileMaker has evolved from being a reasonably priced, basic database application to being a powerhouse. It’s not a niche product for individuals and small businesses any more. My problem is that I don’t need to have at least two databases sitting open on my Mac because I need to use them every day. And I don’t even turn on my Mac everyday single day anymore.

Yes, moral qualms would tug at my heartstrings, but the overwhelming problem is that over the years I’ve heard nothing but horrible things happening to people who downloaded pirated software. I do admit to having some fonts that followed me home from work, but they didn’t put my beloved Macs at risk. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m going to have to shell out big bucks for FileMaker.

It took Apple about 5 years to totally end Rosetta, and the reasons were more complex than simply supporting an emulator. With OS X Apple introduced Carbon which was a layer which sat between applications and Cocoa. So Apple were essentially painting 3 systems; Cocoa on Intel, Carbon on Intel and Carbon on PowerPC. The decision was made that Carbon would progressively die, and as PowerPC applications were unlikely to be modified there didn’t seem much point in supporting PowerPC. The current ecosystem is a lot simpler, so Rosetta 2 may survive longer. There is also probably 2 years until Apple stop producing Intel machines.