Designing FileMaker Files That Will Open For A Limited Time

From Dwayne Wright PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM
Certified FileMaker Developer

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As a FileMaker developers, you may want to distribute a version of your solution that only works for a limited time or only work for a limited number of times. Generally, this is for a demo that you want to turn off for reasons such as ...

- you want to sell them a real version someday

- you want to make sure people are using the latest demo, so older demos deactivate themselves.

An auto solution shutdown is not that difficult to do with FileMaker and can be done with a startup script. Basically we are going to do some very simple steps which are....

- determine a set of conditions that would require the solution to quit working ( a date, a number of days after first opened, a number of times opened, the number of records in the file, etc... )

- develop a script that will test for those conditions and perform the quit actions when they are met.

- optional ... a method to remind the user how long they have before the deactivation event takes place.

- optional ... provide a method to deactivate the deactivation event ( I registered... do not turn me off )

- optional ... provide a method to extract the data, so that it can be used in a version the customer decides to purchase.

You should also realize that all the date based operations are linked to the date control panel used in the computers operating system. If the user rolls the date backwards via the control panel, they can likely defeat any date based scripting for that session. There are ways to use the date from a host computer but normally you don’t have a “do not open” features with hosted files, but I suppose you could.

FOR DEMOS ONLY (in my opinion)
I would suggest that you make sure you are in a sound legal position before implementing any type of action that disables access to a database you have provided. For demo versions or presentations, you will likely be in fine shape. For solutions you do for a client, you may be on ground less than firm. For example, I’ve heard of stories where a developer (not a FileMaker developer but a developer for large SQL solutions) who put in an action that would deactivate an entire solution unless a developer turned off a setting. This was used to protect the developer in case the client didn’t pay on time.

I have never added this type of setting for a client project and cannot imagine any circumstance in which I would. I don’t know of any FileMaker developers that work like this and would encourage everyone to NEVER use any of these techniques in client projects.
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© 2008 - Dwayne Wright -

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