The long-awaited FileMaker 13 family of products have arrived for Christmas.
Some of us FileMaker Business Alliance members or who attended the FileMaker Developer Conference in San Diego last August had gotten a preview of what the new offerings were, but, of course our non-disclosure agreements does not allow us to share the excitement until the product actually hits the market. Well, as usual we did get our hands on a pre-release version of the FileMaker 13 Pro/Advanced product and spent some time playing with it. You can see numerous people have written blog posts and about finding bugs (which is completely normal with new software release), FileMaker cloud hosts testing different servers and configurations, discussing their findings. This is all normal.
What’s not normal is clients upgrading their operation system overnight and locking themselves out of their solution because, well FileMaker 11 doesn’t run on Mavericks. Then me scrambling to get them updated on their licenses to FileMaker 12 on the day of 13 being released, therefore you can’t even download a FileMaker 12 trial and even FileMaker Go 12 has being pulled from the App Store. The good news is that FileMaker 13 can open FileMaker FileMaker 12 files. Any version below 12 it cannot open because we had a file format change at 12. FileMaker 12 can also open FIleMaker 13 files—but you can choose to not allow it, and I would highly recommend that after upgrading a solution.
Well, two months in we can say we learned to like FileMaker 13. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the new features, they’re great and the upgrade is worth it even if only for the themes but then there’s that pesky web access. Since we also sell FileMaker hosting, we’ve gotten some FM13 servers ready as of January 1. This, of course was a great time to learn that FileMaker 13 Web Direct is a very powerful tool to bring your server down if used “incorrectly”. That being said, if you follow the instructions—whether ours or FMI’s—you should be alright and all of our servers will chug along just fine.
So, the question is still: should we upgrade or not? Well, I think it depends on how much time and money you have and when you want to spend them. You’ve surely heard that before. Time? Well, yes, it takes some time to create a theme (if we don’t want to use the built-in ones) and then it takes some time to apply it to the layouts. And then you have to make new layouts for Web Direct (highly recommended, lots of articles out there, a video from Richard Carlton, etc.), and then it’s possibly a good time to revise some layouts and possibly the workflow. Then test, test, test. Especially, if you want to use Web Direct. You will also have to do some pixel-pushing to make those pesky web layouts work both in FileMaker, as well as web. All the developers we’ve talked to have agreed, yes, it takes awhile to create a them and set it up for all the elements used, but once that’s done, it’s much easier to make universal changes. So, there, that brings us to the second question: money. Well, it takes some time to upgrade and test and that costs money.
Some clients we have already upgraded and some we’re in the process of and some we will upgrade later. Every situation is different and we need to carefully examine all the factors that come into play. One client I recommended upgrading a copy of the database, play with it, get it to “perfection”, then import the new data in and port it over a weekend.
And then there’s the topic of licensing and hosting and concurrent access. FileMaker, Inc. has changed the pricing model. FileMaker Go is free. Web Direct you do not need a client for but they charge for the concurrent access to FileMaker Go, as well as Web Direct, and it comes in 5-user packs. So we sell hosting in 5-user packs on top of the 1-file hosting. So there’s this additional cost to factor in when upgrading.
Everyone seems eager, new features are always exciting, unless they are scary. I recommend talking this over. Let’s make a decision together, make a plan then upgrade.