Developer(s) FileMaker Inc.,
an Apple Subsidiary
Stable release
15.0.2 / September 28, 2016 (2016-09-28)
Operating system Mac OS X 10.10, OS X 10.11, OS X 10.12, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, iOS
Type Database management system
License Proprietary

FileMaker Pro is a cross-platform relational database application from FileMaker Inc., formerly Claris, a subsidiary of Apple Inc. It integrates a database engine with a graphical user interface (GUI) and security features, allowing users to modify the database by dragging new elements into layouts, screens, or forms. Current versions are: FileMaker Pro 15, FileMaker Pro Advanced 15, FileMaker Server 15, and FileMaker Go 15 for iPhone and iPad.

FileMaker evolved from a DOS application, but was then developed primarily for the Apple Macintosh and released in April 1985. Since 1992 it has been available for Microsoft Windows and for the classic Mac OS and macOS, and can be used in a cross-platform environment. FileMaker server briefly ran on Linux, but Linux support was abandoned with FileMaker 7, and the server currently runs only on Windows or OS X servers. A client version was released for iOS devices in July 2010. It is available in desktop, server, iOS and web-delivery configurations.


FileMaker began as an MS-DOS–based computer program named Nutshell - developed by Nashoba Systems of Concord, Massachusetts, in the early 1980s. Nutshell was distributed by Leading Edge, an electronics marketer that had recently started selling IBM PC-compatible computers.[1][2]

With the introduction of the Macintosh, Nashoba combined the basic data engine with a new forms-based graphical user interface (GUI). Leading Edge was not interested in newer versions, preferring to remain a DOS-only vendor, and kept the Nutshell name. Nashoba found another distributor, Forethought Inc., and introduced the program on the Macintosh platform as FileMaker. When Apple introduced the Macintosh Plus in 1986 the next version of FileMaker was named FileMaker Plus to reflect the new model's name.

Forethought was purchased by Microsoft, which was then introducing their PowerPoint product that became part of Microsoft Office. Microsoft had introduced its own database application, Microsoft File, shortly before FileMaker, but it was outsold by FileMaker and Microsoft discontinued it. Microsoft negotiated with Nashoba for the right to publish FileMaker, but Nashoba decided to self-publish the next version, FileMaker 4.[1]

Shortly thereafter, Apple Computer formed Claris, a wholly owned subsidiary, to market software. Claris purchased Nashoba to round out its software suite. By then, Leading Edge and Nutshell had faded from the marketplace because of competition from other DOS- and later Windows-platform database products. FileMaker, however, continued to succeed on the Macintosh platform.

Claris changed the product's name to FileMaker II to conform to its naming scheme for other products, such as MacWrite II, but the product changed little from the last Nashoba version. Several minor versions followed, and things finally settled down with the release of FileMaker Pro 1.0 in 1990.

In September 1992, Claris released a multi-platform version for both the Mac and Windows; except for a few platform-specific functions, the program's features and user interface were the same. Up to this point FileMaker had no real relational feature; it was limited to automatically looking up and importing values from other files. It only had the ability to save a state—a filter and a sort, and a layout for the data. Version 3.0, released around 1995, introduced new relational and scripting features.

By 1995 FileMaker was the only strong-selling product in Claris's lineup. In 1998, Apple moved development of some of the other Claris products in-house, dropped most of the rest, and changed Claris's name to FileMaker, Inc., to concentrate on that product.

Major updates

Version 4.0, introduced in 1997, added a plug-in architecture much like that of Adobe Photoshop, which enabled third-party developers to add features to FileMaker. A bundled plug-in, the Web Companion, allowed the database to act as a web server. Other "plugs" added features to the interface and enabled FileMaker to serve as an FTP client, perform external file operations, and send messages to remote FileMaker files over the Internet or an intranet.

Version 7, released in 2004, introduced a new file format (file extension .fp7) supporting file sizes up to 8 terabytes (an increase from the 2 gigabytes in previous versions). Individual fields could hold up to 4 gigabytes of binary data (container fields) or 2 gigabytes of 2-byte Unicode text per record (up from 64 kilobytes in previous versions). FileMaker's relational model was enriched, offering multiple tables per file and a graphical relationship editor that displayed and allowed manipulation of related tables in a manner that resembled the entity-relationship diagram format. Accompanying these foundational changes, FileMaker Inc. also introduced a developer certification program.

In 2005 FileMaker Inc. announced the FileMaker 8 product family, which offered the developer an expanded feature set. These included a tabbed interface, script variables, tooltips, enhanced debugging, custom menus, and the ability to copy and paste entire tables and field definitions, scripts, and script steps within and between files. Version 8.5, released in 2006, added an integrated web viewer (the ability to view such things as shipment tracking information from FedEx and Wikipedia entries) and named layout objects.

FileMaker 9, released on July 10, 2007, introduced a quick-start screen, conditional formatting, fluid layout auto-resizing, hyperlinked pointers into databases, and external SQL links. FileMaker 10 was released on January 5, 2009, before that year's Macworld Conference & Expo, and offered scripts to be triggered by user actions and a redesigned user interface similar to that of Mac OS X Leopard applications.

FileMaker 11, released on March 9, 2010, introduced charting, which was further streamlined in FileMaker 12, released April 4, 2012. That version also added themes, more database templates (so-called starter solutions) and simplified creation of iOS databases. FileMaker Go 11 (July 20, 2010) and FileMaker Go 12 for iPhone and iPad (April 4, 2012) allow only the creation, modification, and deletion of records on these handheld devices. Design and schema changes must be made within the full FileMaker Pro application. FileMaker Go 12 offers multitasking, improved media integration, export of data to multiple formats and enhanced container fields.

FileMaker 13, released after the launches of iOS 7 and Mac OS X Mavericks (10.9), first shipped in December 2013. The client and server products were enhanced to support many mobile and web methods of data access. FileMaker Go 13, the parallel iPad-iPhone product, has now become a single client for both these handhelds, and the Server Admin tool now runs in HTML5, no longer requiring a Java app.

FileMaker 14 platform released on May 15, 2015.[3] This included FileMaker Pro 14, FileMaker Pro 14 Advanced, FileMaker Server 14 and FileMaker Go 14.

Version history

Date Version Comment[4]
Apr 1985 FileMaker v1.0 Published by Forethought Inc.
1986 FileMaker Plus Published by Forethought Inc.
Jun 1988 FileMaker 4 Published by Nashoba Systems
Aug 1988 FileMaker II First version to be published by Claris Corporation
Oct 1990 FileMaker Pro
Oct 1992 FileMaker Pro 2 Windows version added
Aug 1993 FileMaker Pro 2.1
Jul 1994 FileMaker Pro Server 2
Dec 1995 FileMaker Pro 3 Relational architecture, TCP/IP networking introduced
Jan 1996 FileMaker Pro Server 3
Sep 1997 FileMaker Pro 4 Plug-in architecture introduced
May 1998 FileMaker Pro 4 Developer Edition Last version to be published by Claris. Aimed at expert/professional FileMaker user.
Jun 1999 FileMaker Pro 4.1v2 First version to be published by FileMaker, Inc.[5]
Sep 1999 FileMaker Pro 5
Nov 1999 FileMaker Server 5
Apr 2001 FileMaker Pro 5.5 Native support for Mac OS X
Sep 2002 FileMaker Pro 6* Last version to support Mac OS 9 and 8
Mar 2004 FileMaker Pro 7 Multiple tables/file architecture introduced;
multiple windows; relationships graph; calc variables;
Improved security with individual accounts and passwords
introduced new file format .fp7; Mac version requires OS X.
Aug 2005 FileMaker Pro 8* Scriptable creation of PDF reports;[6] script variables; tabs on layouts
Jan 2006 FileMaker Mobile 8 FileMaker Mobile line was discontinued
Jul 2006 FileMaker Pro 8.5* Mac OS X Universal Binary support, embedded browser (Web Viewer), object names
Jul 2007 FileMaker Pro/Server 9* Native support for the SQL databases MS SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle. Conditional formatting
Jan 2009 FileMaker Pro/Server 10* Status area now horizontal; script triggering
Mar 2010 FileMaker Pro/Server 11* Charts, snapshot link, filtered portals, and recurring imports
Jul 2010 FileMaker Go 1.0 FileMaker for iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch)
Sep 2010 FileMaker Go 1.1 PDF creation, photo support, import from FileMaker Pro
Apr 2011 FileMaker Go 1.2 Printing, signature capture, charts, enhanced PDF creation
Sep 2011 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 11.0v4* Lion compatibility, fully implemented by October 2011
Apr 2012 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 12 Integrated themes (Pro/iOS); floating and modal windows;
execute SQL; enhanced container field; improved charting
Apr 2012 FileMaker Server 12 64 bit, faster WAN, progressive backups, rewritten web publishing engine
Apr 2012 FileMaker Go 12 iOS client is now free. Supports the .fmp12 file format.
Dec 2013 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 13 WebDirect and HTML5 features; better mobile app development;
enhanced GUI design tools, themes and behaviors; more dynamic data refreshing, "Hide object when..." layout object option based on calculation, encryption at rest (EAR 256bit AES) data protection, new summary list feature, enhanced ExecuteSQL expressions, perform script on server script step, 256bit SSL client server connection
Dec 2013 FileMaker Go 13 Free universal client for iPhones and iPads supports iOS 6 & iOS 7. Supports barcode scanning from camera.
Dec 2013 FileMaker Server 13 FileMaker WebDirect, Perform Script On Server, Platform Security; new HTML5 Admin Console replaced need for Java
May 2015 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 14 Script workspace, Button bar, Tooltips in layout mode, Launch Center
May 2015 FileMaker Server 14 Standby server, FileMaker Pro auto-reconnect, WebDirect support for Android
May 2015 FileMaker Go 14 Improved signature capture, iOS 8-style interface, Video/audio controls, Keyboard control, Rich editing
May 2016 FileMaker Pro/Advanced 15 In-Product Updates, Portal In-line Progress Bar, Concealed Edit Box, Script Workspace highlighting & unlimited undo
May 2016 FileMaker Server 15 External SQL Support extended to DB2 & PostgreSQL, SSL Certificate installation made easier, eliminated shared hosting, Licensing for Teams
May 2016 FileMaker Go 15 iOS SDK, Touch ID & 3D Touch, App Extensions and iBeacons

* (*) indicates both FileMaker Pro / FileMaker Pro Advanced (Developer Edition in v4-6) or FileMaker Server / FileMaker Server Advanced

FileMaker files are compatible between Mac and Windows. File type extensions are:

Self-running applications (runtime, kiosk mode) are platform-specific only.

Dynamic Markup Language

The FileMaker Dynamic Markup Language or FDML was a markup language used in the earlier versions of FileMaker introduced in 1998. FDML is also often referred to as Claris Dynamic Markup Language or CDML, named after the old company Claris. FDML was an extension of HTML that used special tags, such as [FMP-Record][/FMP-Record] to display FileMaker data on Web pages. FileMaker officially dropped support for FDML in 2004.

Internationalization and localization

FileMaker 14 is available in worldwide English, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish, and Swedish.

There are also specific versions of FileMaker for users of Central European, Indian and Middle Eastern languages. The custom versions offer spell checking, data entry, sorting and printing options for languages of the respective region. They also contain localized templates and localized instant web publishing.

The Central European version FileMaker 14 includes English, Russian, Polish, Czech and Turkish interfaces. There are customized templates for Russian, Polish, Czech, Turkish. In addition Russian, Greek, Estonian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Hungarian are supported to varying degrees.

The version intended for Southeast Asian languages has only an English user interface, but supports Indic-language data entry, sorting and indexing in Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Panjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

Similarly, the Middle Eastern version has only English and French user interfaces, but with its option to change the text direction to right-to-left, it does support Arabic and Hebrew data entry.


FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Pro Advanced include scripting capabilities and a variety of built-in functions for automation of common tasks and complex calculations. Numerous steps are available for navigation, conditional execution of script steps, editing records, and other utilities. FileMaker Pro Advanced provides a script debugger which allows the developer to set break points, monitor data values and step through script lines.

FileMaker 13 introduces a useful script that more deeply queries container field document meta data.

SQL and ODBC Support

FileMaker, since version 9, includes the ability to connect to a number of SQL databases without resorting to using SQL, including MySQL, SQL Server, and Oracle. This requires installation of the SQL database ODBC driver (in many cases a third-party license per client driver) to connect to a SQL database. SQL databases can be used as data sources in FileMaker's relationship graph, thus allowing the developer to create new layouts based on the SQL database; create, edit, and delete SQL records via FileMaker layouts and functions; and reference SQL fields in FileMaker calculations and script steps. It is a cross platform relational database application.

Versions from FileMaker Pro 5.5 onwards also have an ODBC interface.

FileMaker 12 introduced a new function, ExecuteSQL, which allows the user to perform an SQL query against the FileMaker database to retrieve data, but not for modification or deletion, or schema changes.[7]

One major flaw with ODBC support is the lack of 1:1 field type mapping from FileMaker to external industry standard databases, further issues are caused by the fact that FileMaker is not "strict" in its data types, a FileMaker field can be marked as "numerical" and will return this mapping to an ODBC driver, however FileMaker allows non-numerical characters to be stored in this "numeric" field type unless the field is specifically marked as strictly "numerical".

See also


  1. 1 2 Glenn Koenig (August 7, 2015). "The Origin of FileMaker". Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  2. "Nashoba Systems and the Early Days of FileMaker Pro". Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  3. "FileMaker Release History".
  4. "Mike Weber, The Low End Mac, FileMaker History". September 15, 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  5. "". November 19, 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  6. Cohen, Dennis R. (2006). FileMaker Pro 8.5 Bible. John Wiley & Sons. p. 354. ISBN 9780470109618.
  7. "ExecuteSQL". Retrieved December 13, 2013.
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