A READER ASKS: FileMaker Runtimes And Sharing

From Dwayne Wright - Certified FileMaker 9 Developer
TWITTER: dwaynewright

I hate to bother you but after hours of internet searching I've yet to find the answers that I am looking for. I did find your website though. I hope that maybe you could shed some light on a few things for me.

I've used Filemaker 3.0 off and on for years. I started a design business a few years ago and now would like to build a database to organize and help run the business. I'm looking to price, quote, invoice jobs and such. Years ago when 4.0 developer came out I considered buying it because I wanted to make runtime applications of my databases.
Now when I research it I find Filemaker Pro Advanced and not developer. Does advanced create runtime applications that you can either sell or share with others? It just looks like the whole developer/runtime part of Filemaker Pro has possible grown into more than a simple option.

Basically, I just want to be able to make runtime applications in case I have friends or associates that would desire any database that I create and to be able to legally sell it if I wanted to. I don't necessarily need the newest version and would rather not have to pay more than necessary. I would settle for 4.0 if that was the best option for what I want to be able to do.

I thought I once read that 6.0 was the last version to allow the freedom of runtime applications as they were introduced with 4.0

If it's not to much of a bother and you know how it all works, could you explain to me how being able to create and sell runtime applications works with new versions over old versions and possibly make a recommendation to what version I should be looking for.

I appreciate any input you may have and hope this isn't a bother

Not a bother at all, as long as you don’t mind me raining on your parade. I’m afraid that I’m in the camp of “it has so many limitations, why would you want to bother building runtimes” but I will try to be fair.

FileMaker runtimes can be shared in a manner such as you can share a good book with someone. You can hand them the physical copy of the book but you cannot network it. FileMaker 4 was the last time that you could build a runtime copy of FileMaker and have more than one user access that database at the same time. In other words, FileMaker runtimes created in FileMaker Advanced are single user only.

Now if you are wanting to distribute single user databases created with FileMaker, you are in luck. However, the limitations of FileMaker runtimes continue on and I am not up to speed on all of them. I’m afraid that my poor “why bother” attitude is getting in the way of me researching the current list of limitations. Please don’t let my “wet blanket” perspective totally dampen your interest.

You may have to build an installer or documentation on where certain files need to be stored in order for FileMaker to run properly in runtime mode. Runtimes are big because FileMaker creates a mini copy of FileMaker to run them. You have to build a different runtime for Macintosh and Windows users. I don’t remember exactly which scripts will not run with the runtime version but I assume there is a list of them somewhere on the internet.

For the most part, FileMaker runtimes are best used for demo versions of a solution that was built in FileMaker. I have never heard a FileMaker representative say this, so it is my opinion mostly, but I have always considered FileMaker runtime as a gateway opportunity for FileMaker to sell more copies of FileMaker. I have no problem with that whatsoever but I would never consider using FileMaker runtime to distribute final versions of any of my solutions.

Now if you are looking for an alternative to share FileMaker databases, you might consider IWP and purchasing space with a hosting provide like thedroolingdog.com. I use them for my FileMaker IWP hosting and it is great.
More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at info@dwaynewright.com.

© 2008 - Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com

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