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(Redirected from FileMaker Pro)

FileMaker Pro is a cross platform database application from FileMaker Inc, known for its combination of power and ease of use. It is also noted for the integration of the database engine with its GUI-based interface, which allows users to modify the database by dragging new elements into the layouts/screens/forms that provide the user interface. This results in a 'quasi-object' development environment of a kind which is still largely unique in the "industrial strength" database world.

FileMaker was one of a handful of database applications released on the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s.

FileMaker is available for the Macintosh and Microsoft Windows operating systems, and can be networked simultaneously to a mixed PC and Mac user base. FileMaker is also scalable, being offered in desktop, server, web-delivery and mobile configurations.



FileMaker started life as a DOS-based product known as Nutshell, developed by Nashoba Systems of Concord, Massachusetts around 1982/1983. Nutshell was distributed by Leading Edge, an electronics marketer that had recently started selling PC compatible computers and software.

With the introduction of the Macintosh, Nashoba combined the basic data engine with a new forms-based GUI, creating a program that was dramatically easier to use. Leading Edge was not interested in the product, preferring to remain a DOS only vendor, and kept the Nutshell name. Nashoba found another distributer, Forethought, and introduced it to the Mac market as FileMaker. When the Macintosh Plus was introduced, the next version of FileMaker was named FileMaker Plus to go with it.

Forethought was purchased by Microsoft, who were then introducing a series of products that are today the core of Microsoft Office. Microsoft had their own product in this space, Microsoft File, so rights to FileMaker were reverted to Nashoba. In 1988 they introduced FileMaker 4 under their own name.

Shortly after that, Apple Computer formed Claris, a wholly owned subsidiary to market software. Within months they had purchased Nashoba to round out their software suite. By that time, Leading Edge and Nutshell faded from the marketplace because of competition from other DOS and later Windows platform database products, whereas, in spite of competition from Microsoft File, FileMaker continued to succeed on the Macintosh platform.

Claris changed the name to FileMaker II in order to be compatible with the naming of their other products, such as MacWrite II, but the product was changed little from the last Nashoba version. A slew of randomly-numbered minor versions followed, when things finally settled down with the release of FileMaker Pro 1.0 in 1990. At this point, FileMaker was still a Mac OS-only application.

A significant milestone in FileMaker's history came with the development of a seamlessly cross-platform Windows and Macintosh version. This gave it a very strong position in the marketplace and has continued to be one of its key advantages. Version 3.0, which followed, was a significant upgrade with new relational and scripting features.

By 1995 FileMaker was the only product in Claris' lineup that had continued strong sales, other classics like MacWrite and Resolve (a re-labeled Informix Wingz) had been milked for many years before being updated far too late to have any impact in the market. Eventually Apple dissolved Claris, abandoned many products, moved a few under the Apple brand (Appleworks) and created FileMaker, Inc. to further develop and market FileMaker and clarify its position in the market.

Since its emergence from the Apple 'fold', FileMaker Inc. has invested substantially in software development. Version 7 of FileMaker Pro, released in March 2004, supports file sizes of up to 8 terabytes (up from 2Gb in previous versions). Individual fields can hold up to 2Gb (up from 64k in previous versions) and FileMaker's relational model has been enriched, offering multiple tables per file and a graphical relationship editor which displays (and allows manipulation of) related tables in a form which in some respects resembles the familiar 'entity-relationship diagram' format.


A defining characteristic of the FileMaker system is the database engine being integrated with the forms (screen, layouts, reports etc) used to access it. Most database systems separate these tasks, concerning themselves primarily with organization and storage of the data. Until recently, each table of a FileMaker database system was stored as a separate file (with relational links to other files) and each file had its own in-built interface capabilities. Version 7 introduced the capability to build multiple tables into one document. Compared to other RDBMS products, it is fairly easy to develop quickly and to make changes on the fly as the data structure is altered; however this approach does carry some drawbacks in the design and support of very complex relational solutions.

FileMaker also provides an interface (API) for integration of third-party tools, making it highly extensible. In addition there are a variety of web publishing options suited to both low-end and larger scale project requirements.

Version history

Date Version Published By
Apr. 1985 FileMaker, v1.0 Forethought Inc.
Oct. 1986 FileMaker Plus, v2.1 Nashoba Systems
June 1988 FileMaker 4, v4
Aug. 1988 FileMaker II, v 1.0 Claris Corporation
July 1989 FileMaker II, version 1.1v2
Oct. 1990 FileMaker Pro 1.0v1
Mar. 1991 FileMaker Pro 1.0v2
Mar. 1992 FileMaker Pro 1.0v3
Sep. 1992 FileMaker Pro 2.0v1
Oct. 1992 FileMaker Pro 2.0v2
Mar. 1993 FileMaker Pro 2.0v3
Apr. 1993 FileMaker Pro 2.0v4
Aug. 1993 FileMaker Pro 2.1v1
Feb. 1994 FileMaker Pro 2.1v2
July 1994 FileMaker Pro 2.1v3/SDK 2.1
July 1994 FileMaker Pro Server 2.0v
July 1994 FileMaker Pro SDK 2.1v1
Mar. 1995 FileMaker Pro Server 2.1v1
Dec. 1995 FileMaker Pro 3.0v1
Jan. 1996 FileMaker Pro Server 3.0v1
Jan. 1996 FileMaker Pro 3.0v2
June 1996 FileMaker Pro 3.0v3
June 1996 FileMaker Pro 3.0v4
June 1996 FileMaker Pro SDK 3.0v1
Sep. 1997 FileMaker Pro 4.0v1
June 1999 FileMaker Pro 4.1v2 FileMaker, Inc.
Sep. 1999 FileMaker Pro 5.0v1
Nov. 2001 FileMaker Pro 5.5v1
Sep. 2002 FileMaker Pro 6.0v1
Mar. 2004 FileMaker Pro 7.0v1
May 2004 FileMaker Pro 7.0v2
Oct. 2004 FileMaker Pro 7.0v3

User Groups

Managing User Groups

  • Meta - User Group ( Email list for administrators & coordinators, sharing knowledge about starting and maintaining a FileMaker user / dveloper group - courtesy of FM Forums.

External links

  • FileMaker Inc. website (, including Technical Knowledge Base
  • Database Pros (, free source of tips and tricks
  • Excelisys (, source of free tips and tricks, demos, samples, info, FileMaker Business Tracker
  • NightWing Enterprises (, demos, samples, developer resources
  • FileMaker World (, directory of developers, examples, tutorials
  • (, news feed and online archive of FM Info
  • Dancing-Data (, detailed history from 1980 to 1989
  • FMForums (, largest worldwide FileMaker community and discussion board.
  • FMPug (, FileMaker User Group syndication - Anyone, anywhere can join
  • Custom Functions (, discusson board dedicated to FileMaker Developer 7's custom functions
  • (, The 1st Russian discussion board dedicated to FileMaker
  • FMClub (, Spanish talk list & users group dedicated to FileMaker, from 1999
  • (, FileMaker forum in the Dutch language
  • FileMaker MSN (, FileMaker Group at MSN
  • Plug-ins for FileMaker (, Plug-ins to extend possibilities of



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