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    FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?

    healy@phantomlab.com

      Title

      FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?

      Post

      We have a small business, FileMaker Server serves ~20 databases to 18 users.  Many of our databases are related to each other. For example, Inventory is related to Assembly, Orders, and Purchasing, and there are many others.  in order to maintain the integrity of our data with the FileMaker 12 upgrade, as I understand it, I am going to have to convert every database to .fmp12 format, upgrade to FileMaker 12 on every computer, upgrade to FileMaker Server 12, all at once, and pray that it works. I'll probably have to edit filenames by hand in every inter-database relationship.  Please tell me I am missing something because right now, I wish I had just done everything in SQL.

        • 1. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
          bumper

          1. You don't have to upgrade at all, just continue to use FM 11 if everything is working. I know of one company still running of FM 4. They are happy and it still works they just can't buy any new computers.

          2. You can mass convert the FM 11 files all at the same time. RTM.

          3. Convert and test, but continue using FM 11 until you are confident that everything is working as it shoud.

          4. This is no different than when FM went from 6 to 7, except it's a lot easier because the relational model and multiple tables in files is the same.

          5. It's the price we pay for progress.

          • 2. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
            healy@phantomlab.com

            Thank you for your reply Bumper, but I don't entirely agree with some of your points.  FM 11 is working well, and I appreciate the fact that I don't have to upgrade right away, but of course I have to upgrade eventually.  I am not sure what you mean by 'mass converting' the FM 11 files.  Yes, convert and test is good advice.  Of course during the testing phase, after all the conversions, and updating all the inter-database relationships because of the filename change (.fp7->.fmp12), the data sets in the test and operational systems will diverge.  Then I will be faced with a choice of importing all the current data into the testing system before making it operational, or re-doing the conversion process on the current system.  It is not the hours involved so much as the concern with maintaining data integrity throughout the process.  I am all for progress and I respect that there is a price to pay, but I do not see why FileMaker didn't make 12 compatible with .fp7 files, especially since the relational model didn't change.  Thanks again for your reply.

            • 3. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
              bumper

              With regards to the conversion. fm 12 will convert all the files, main file and related files, at in one operation and maintain the relationships, etc., and all the current data will come with it. That doesn't mean you won't want to check everything out afterwards (and before you convert) but it really isn't that difficult. Look for fucntions and scripts steps that are new or changed between 7 and 12. I am in no poistion to speak for FM engineers, but I am pretty sure the reason for the suffix change is because much of what is in 12 couldn't be accomplished by just stuffing it into 7. All of this said, I will "play" with 12 for at least three to six months and watch the forums, etcs for gotcha's and then one at a time start moving systems to 12. No doubt learning as we go. Have you looked over the Knowledge Base articles on 12 and converting, the checklist is extensive.

              • 4. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
                philmodjunk

                IMO, we've all been a bit spoiled by the fact that FM Inc was able to roll out new versions for 7 through 11 without modifying the file format. As an "old timer", I recall that the release of 3, 4, 5 , 6 and 7 all required new file formats and files had to be converted.

                I'd also guess that the engineers found themselves struggling to fit each new change in to a "shrinking box" of having to keep the file format unchanged and finally had to make this change to incorporate some of the new features.

                • 5. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?

                  Might be a good time to look to the future and break your files into the main data only file and the menu files with scripts. Then the conversion will be less painful as you know your data should remain intact and you only need to update the user menu files. By menu file I mean the file with the scripts and layouts but not the data.

                  Using the two files, Gui and data, you can avoid most of the problems and only update one menu file at a time.

                  Which raises the question of "Is Filemaker Inc paying attention to the two file method and allowing one data file to be used across all updates. For instance, xBase files and the text files used by SQL, etc. are always useable no matter what version of software is being used. Something for Filemaker to think about after all data is data. Most of the field 'features' are actually part of the file using the field and not the field itself...right? These formatting features need not be part of the data tables.

                  Of course there are calc fields and container fields and new fields to come. But isn't it smarter to make your graphic container fields separate tables rather than inserted into your regular address record?

                  • 6. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
                    Sorbsbuster

                    The one area developers haven't been spoiled with is 'information'.  Even the TS people who respond to queries say "you know that it is our policy to refuse to tell you of any upgrade plans, or even when - or if - we ever intend to fix a bug'.  If I tried that answer when a customer asked me when I would fix a bug I would get short shrift.  I've recently sold a dozen FM11 Clients into 3 customers; all had expectations of expanding the users if all was shown to work well.  It has been shown to work: so now, presumably they either cannot expand their successful network, or else they have to re-buy all the existing software.  If we had known the upgrade of file type was imminent we would have had a different plan.  I am going to have 3 very aggrieved customers (for starters) - not least because they will see me as not keeping them informed, or not being properly informed myself.  I have tried to tell customers in the past that 'Keeping people informed is not the Apple way', and they protest that all the car manufacturers, for example - and even Microsoft - are happy, even willing, to publicise that their next model is due out in x months time.

                    A product like Filemaker does not work 'out of the box' and requires a developer to build it into something usable.  Developers are the best sales team that FM have, and I just don't understand why they can't be given helpful information.

                    I'm not disappointed by 'progress', I am disappointed by the position I have been placed in through unnecessary secrecy.

                    • 7. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
                      philmodjunk

                      Jack, I think you have a great suggestion there. If you haven't already done so, please post it to the Feature Suggestion Form so that it gets the widest possible audience in FileMaker Inc. land.

                      For those interested in converting their files to a data separation model--another great suggestion--see this thread: Convert to Seperation Model

                      • 8. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
                        bumper

                        I don't disagree with any of these comments, but Sorbsbuster for $100 a year you can stay in the loop for information on upcoming software and get NDA beta copies of the software and it's tax deductible. But even if you don't join Technet, if you have been developing in FM for any length of time, you KNOW there is a new version on the horizon within the next year and a half. Also I like to put all my clients in the maintaince program, which by its very explanation alerts them to the fact that there will be changes a coming. So when the new version is released the discussion moves to what are the changes and will they (the client) benefit from them. Thus far the answer has always been yes.

                        • 9. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
                          healy@phantomlab.com

                          Thanks to everyone for the constructive conversation, all the comments are much appreciated.  Bumper, who seems generally unperturbed by the prospect of the upgrade to 12, says:

                          "... All of this said, I will "play" with 12 for at least three to six months and watch the forums, etcs for gotcha's and then one at a time start moving systems to 12. No doubt learning as we go. Have you looked over the Knowledge Base articles on 12 and converting, the checklist is extensive."

                          I wish I could approch the situation with such equanimity!  There is obviously a lot of work involved, and in my situation, I can't move systems to 12 one at a time.  I don't want my users to open FM 12 for some files and FM 11 for others.  I need everyone at work to go home Friday, punch in Monday, and start manufacturing, purchasing, taking orders, etc., so a full and functional conversion has to be done very quickly, (of course after extensive testing).  Surely I am not alone in this situation.  Considering all the work involved for FileMaker consumers, I think FileMaker should have designed 12 to open .fp7 files. New software that opens older files is rolled out all the time, and I don't know why this should be an exception.  I believe there was a certain easy road taken here.

                          Sorry for the rant, I'll stop whining, and take all the good advice given, especially compartmentalizing my programs in the future, and move forward ...

                          • 10. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?

                            Let me add a bit of perspective:

                            • You Do NOT Have To Upgrade Just Because Filemaker, Inc's Website Looks Pretty!
                            • You Do NOT Have To Upgrade Just Because 12 is NEW
                            • You Do NOT Have To Upgrade...

                            As long as you can find parts or replacement computers running the same OS as now, you can run Filemaker for ever...assuming there is still electricity.

                            So </AnxietyOFF>  

                            Relax, your computer in't going to vaporize tonight just because a new version of FIlemaker has been released...

                            Relax, you need a break. I used to walk out and not tell anyone where I was going and not return until I felt like it. I also made it a habit to only work 3 Days a week and take 4 Days off but I put in a full work week and a half in those three days.

                            If you are working 19/7/365 you need a break and it doesn't much matter what version of Filemaker you use.

                            And here is the real reason to forgetaboutit...  Your business is more important than the version of Filemaker you use. If your business is well run, making money...consider yourself lucky and don't rush into making changes.

                            Remember: there is not one sucessful business person who will advise you to run around filled with anxiety over the latest software version and to change everything without regard to risk and to run flat out fast into a concrete wall screaming "Why, why..."

                            Wait...I hear an advertising Ninja climbing over my wall with sword drawn..  (Been watching too many Korean movies...)

                            • 11. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
                              JamesRoland

                              Howdy,

                              Let me add my 5 cents (have to start getting used to not having the one cent piece ... and yes, I am rounding up) Laughing

                              1. I am in the same boat as Sorbsbuster with regard to a rather nice sized FM network for a mid-sized company. I have no intention on upgrading them anytime soon, but they will need additional FMP 11 licences soon. Wonder what the price will be for them, as one cannot find this info on the FM site. (Yes, I will contact FMI, but it would be nice info to have). So Jack, no probs with the anxiety ... I have my smokes by the carton and coffee by the gallon Laughing

                              1a. Did a presentation for a new, rather large FM network for a new client on April 3! Same thing .... what's the price now, as there is no way I am about to jump onto the 12 bandwagon with my solution (a modified version of the one in 1. above) until at least 12 v1 or 2 ... just check the forums already!

                              2. The Separation Model has it's pros and cons and there is lots out there on the subject. Additionally, one can sort of do what Jack suggested with the 2 file method by using FM as the front end for an ESS backend.

                              3. Regarding Bumper's suggestion that 100 bux to join the FM Dev Network will give you advance knowledge with pre-release versions and discussions about them, I can only say from my recent experience as I have joined slightly less that one year ago. Personally, I don't see 4 weeks as being all that "advanced" ... my pre-release 12 became available on March 8, 2012, 4 weeks to the day before the actual release. And there was NO discussions on it allowed in the Developer Forum because of the NDA! This whole "secrecy thing" with FMI has been a real niggling point for me ever since version 1 back in the late 80s! There's a great "why" for ya! Laughing

                              I'll be keeping an eye on 12 and see how things pan out, but for me, I am in no rush to upgrade my clients. I do not see the advantages yet for existing solutions that are running just fine in 11. But I tell you what all this HAS got me doing ... looking around for alternatives, especially for web-based deployment. I have to agree with a comment I saw on another FM forum and that is, "the desktop is dead" (or at least will be soon). And 12 has nothing worth making the jump for IWP; heck, you can't even use one of the "cool, new themes" with IWP! What the heck!

                              Cheers!

                              Lyle

                              • 12. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
                                dennjon

                                Thanks for the chuckle, Jack. You made my day. 

                                I too was quite shocked when I installed FMP 12 this morning and saw the YOU MUST UPGRADE YOUR FILES alert. (I recently had bought an additional copy of FMP 11, so the upgrade to 12 was a freebie).   Anyway, we run 7 or 8 Macs with FMP versions 9 through 11, and all my staff seem content with whatever version they're using.  So, I think I'll be putting FMP 12 on hold for awhile and turn the anxiety OFF. :)

                                • 13. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
                                  healy@phantomlab.com

                                  I think for many, probably most people, not upgrading computers and operating systems is not an option, and it certainly isn't for us. We have ~15 machines. They break.  We buy new ones, with new hardware and software (mostly Macs).  Our customers and partners upgrade and we need to be compatible. My complaint isn't with upgrading per se, or the hours, (although that is no fun because this is actually a small part of my job), or having to do it this week, or this month, or whenever.  it is that once the inevitable upgrade happens, everything must be done at once and work seamlessly. Some reasonable effort on the part of Filemaker would have made the process much easier, less stressful, and most importantly, more reliable.  I think they were lazy at our expense, like Microsoft was when they dropped VBA from Excel for Mac.  So, yeah, I was pretty steamed for a while but the anxiety is gone, thanks in large part to the helpful posts here (Jack, Bumper, et al.), but I still think Filemaker didn't act well here.

                                  • 14. Re: FileMaker abandons customers with FileMaker 12 upgrade?
                                    Sorbsbuster

                                    Hmmm... I go to buy a new car and one of the early questions I usually ask is "Are they bringing out a new model any time soon?"  I can't remember ever having a sales guy give me an untruthful, or even prevaricating, answer, and they've never suggested I slip them $100 for the information, either.  I'm sure Microsoft had versions of Windows 8 out with selected groups a long time before I read about it in the press, but they've given me more than enough notice and information for me to feel I'm making an informed choice if I buy a Windows 7 OS now.  I can't see why FM can't let their outline plans be known too.  Especially when this particular upgrade involves the lack of backward compatibility; even to have been tipped off to that aspect would have been nice.  I'm not even asking for a trial copy; I'll believe them if they tell me what they're thinking of putting into it.

                                    Maybe I'm mixing in the wrong market - I'd love to have customers like Bumper's.  The biggest single reason, by far, that I don't make a sale is the cost of the original client software.  To jack that cost up even more by selling them what they would see as an 'Insurance Plan' (and not in any way directly connected to the facilities in the solution we are pitching to provide) would put off even more of my potential customers.  And I can't think of any who would have voluntarily paid for the additional features of any of the last 5 upgrades.  As Jack Rodgers says, if it works leave it alone: and thankfully the systems my clients have all work, and where we've put in work-arounds like reasonably-seamless exports to Excel and hence to a charting facility, they can't see the justification in spending $1000s for me to swop that and provide it directly within Filemaker (as an example).

                                    To pursue that as an example; if I had known at the time that charting would be in the imminent release, I could have saved the time in writing the Excel link, diverted the cost of that into a maintenance purchase for the customer, and told them I would provide a charting facility FOC, but in a few months time.  At worst the customer gets the same service for the same money, I provide the same service for the same money, and Filemaker get a maintence purchase that it wouldn't have had otherwise.  No losers, and Filemaker Inc gains - all because someone actually lets the developers know what's happening.

                                    I also recognise that as long as FM11 licenses continue to be available then the problem is stalled; but I just don't get why FMInc are so secretive.  There must be, surely, potential clients who have assessed what system to write their solution in, and decided 'No, we won't use Filemaker, but only because it doesn't have charting/doesn't have layout templates/doesn't have web access/doesn't have multi-table support..." and a month later that very feature appears.  Who gained there?

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