Ibrahim, it might be beneficial to others if you define "commercial solutions developer". For example how it differs (if any) from other kinds of developers.
I think the biggest issue at the moment for me is trying to figure out the new licensing models.
I was speaking with a client today, comparing the FLT option with their current concurrent connection model. Due mostly to discussions on this board and the enormously helpful staff at the hosting company we're using (props to FMPHost), I was able to demonstrate their monthly cost would only go up about $20.
However, there were and are still some questions:
1) We're using a sync strategy. So it's not at all infrequent for them to be connected on their iPads and their laptops at the same time. I understand this consumes 2 user connections. (Which is strange to me, given it's supposed to be a "user" model.)
2) How exactly does the server keep track of the users? Obviously not by account name, right? So what does the user actually have to do in order to "clock in"? Extra credentials? Or do you have to register all the user's devices? (I've not bought any FLT Server licenses, so maybe this is a dumb question.)
Basically, if FMI could give us a "FLT For Dummies" that we could use with the clients, it would be very helpful. What does it look like to the end user / client?
@Mike, FMS15 tacks the users pretty much the same as concurrent connections does. From my talks with FMI there was an actual user control feature that did not make it into 15, but they certainly suggested that this may very well be coming in a future release. From what I understand the user control will align with FLT and user names will need to be registered in FMS for FLT contracts and only those registered users will be allowed to connect via FLT clients. Standard FMP clients will be unrestricted. I am assuming that that username will only be allowed to be logged in on one device at a time. I guess we will have to wait and see how it actually works if and when it is implemented.
So it’s more or less honor system now?
(Which I don’t mind; I just need to know what to tell the clients.)
So it’s more or less honor system now?
(Which I don’t mind; I just need to know what to tell the clients.)
From what I understand, yes. I think most all FM clients and developers have been honorable over the years about usage. However be prepared that the honor system may not continue for too much longer.
Hi Bev, sorry for the delayed reply.
In my words, a commercial solutions developers is someone who creates and sells a solution created with FileMaker Pro.
As opposed to a custom solutions developer, a commercial solutions developer has "products" for sale. Some good examples are BaseElements and Inspector Pro. Both are solutions created with FileMaker Pro and are sold as products.
OK. Even old products like ThemeCreator™.
Thanks! I wanted to clarify this is not just about stand-alone solutions bound to a run-time. Although, those would fall under "commercial solution". You mean those solutions that are not "bespoke" (for those who know what that means), "custom", "client-driven", but those solutions that are "off-the-shelf", "boxed solution sold to more than one client", "FileMaker add-on", "FileMaker template", etc.
That being said, many developers fall under both categories. So, we will limit this discussion to the latter.
We are trying to figure out how we can get advantage of the new tools available: FLT, iOS Apps, WebDirect, etc.
One of the problems we have as commercial developers is that annual licensing doesn't work, at least for me.
When we sell our solution, it includes EVERYTHING (we have SBA): FileMaker Licensing, training, setup, a full year of tech support and updates, FM maintenance and the solution itself of course. We buy from FMI and resell to our customers bundled with our solution, so from FMI point of view we are the customers, not our end users.
Now, if we buy AVLA, the more we sell the more licenses we'd have to renew every year. A snowball effect.
I know the market is moving to a subscription model but in my opinion this doesn't work for customers buying a fully fledged ERP. The basis of subscription is the promise of being off the hook if you're not happy with the product/service, along with a reduced payment every year, however, someone who is investing $10K or more in a solution is not planning to leave if things go wrong, they will make you work to make things right. So our promise is we'll commit with our customers to make them a success story with our product.
Another reason for our customers to not to upgrade FileMaker is because the solution doesn't need it. I have customers running on FM11 who told me they're happy with their solution and don't have plans to upgrade until they're forced to, i.e., when the OS is not compatible anymore with FM11. This is already happening with MacOS (both server and client) and will eventually happen with Windows.
We've done some subscriptions with small customers who host their solution in our server. Now that's not possible with FMS15. How not to feel cornered?
This leaves us with legacy licensing and FLT. Legacy will eventually disappear in favor of FLT. That's fine if you sell custom made solutions, where FM licensing is passed completely (and separately) to the customer as part of the overall cost. Not the case when you have SBA.
So, the only way I see we can take advantage of FLT is selling perpetual licensing to mid size and big companies, with solutions in the range of 20+ users. In our market that's a lot of users, most solutions we sell are in the 6-10 users range. This leaves small companies, which are 80% of our target market out of the game because our solution becomes too expensive for them.
When I realized this my first reaction was to put the blame on FMI and got angry, very much. Now, after my head cooled down, I'm trying to see the bright side of this. I said trying. This means I have not completely made it yet.
Talking with a customer, I told him about custom apps and his eyes went big as plates. He told me he paid a nice amount of money for an advertising campaign for a customer of his (we work with advertising agencies and digital printers) and when he described the solution it seemed something trivial to do with FileMaker. it was something like a visitors registration system and a wine menu, just that.
This makes me think that there's actually a bright side with custom apps. Instead of trying to create the next killer app that will make me billionaire in a couple months, I see a huge opportunity to offer a new product to our existing customer base.
Of course we'd have to adjust our business but if our numbers are right we could double our sales in a year or even less.
Provided FMI will not go back to software activation (remember FileMaker 9?, oh, those were the days ) I have no problem.
I think the best and most flexible way to implement FLT is to move to a completely concurrent licensing for FMP, Go and WebDirect, leaving authoring to FileMaker Pro Advanced only.
While it's possible, I really don't see those 'Legacy' license options going away. VLA with maintenance is typically the best option for long term use.
FTL and AVLA require you to uninstall if you decide to stop paying. It's really not the best option in most cases. They definitely have their place. Somewhat stable costs annually, and a very low entry point.
Beaides the perpetual nature of VLA, maintenance is typically only 1/5 the normal cost the full version.
"FLT For Dummies", YES to that suggestion ! And I can tell you that developers and users are not the only one puzzled by FLT. Last Thursday I attended an FM 15 demonstration in our local Apple Store in Canada. There was someone from FMI USA that attended the demo, and I talked with him. He told me even inside FMI, not everybody understands FTL... Please get me right, I don't mean to rant. I just suggest that FMI write a document about FLT, containing for example comparisons with old licensing, giving uses cases adn how each type of licensing applies, etc. That's what I suggested to the gentleman with FMI. Once we understand FLT, then we can go back developping.
From a cost and also management perspective, I have to say that I have found things so much easier since switching to an annual licensing model with my customers/end-users. There can certainly be a perception of increased costs, but over a 3 year cycle it all works out, and end-users I think are now getting that. We also have an SBA solution, with a demanding customer base. The annual licensing model makes it a lot easier to communicate updates to our customers... we have far less issues now in releasing new updates to our solution, and not having say you can have this or that if you also update FileMaker, "but that is going to cost you an extra .... " etc. Only about 10% of our customers now use FileMaker 11 or 12, with the remainder mostly on 14 (soon to upgrade to 15). There are less restrictions when considering best approach to integrating new features in your solution - our latest 'big' update will be dropping FM12 compatibility, with a huge improvement to some areas of the solution due to removal of work arounds for FM12, and even FM13.
I'm not saying the annual licensing model is for everyone... but I did a lot of head scratching and internal whinging before I made this change, and I can see the light through this latest licensing change. For my customers (and me), there is a price increase... however, in the majority of cases, the additional value to customers is great, and in a lot of cases, their costs may not increase due to the need for less standard filemaker pro licenses.
About hosting the solution for your customers... it would be worth you reading through the update to the SBA agreement and chatting to your regional FileMaker office... this has changed recently, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised as someone who wishes to host a vertical solution (assuming that you control the solution and the server yourself - not the end-user). I would think this would be a lot easier to manage though if using an AVLA.
Obviously, most of the above is based on my experience... but hopefully it gives something to think about for some readers?!
I'm a FM newbie so may not know what I'm talking about, but I've been trying to get my head around FLT also. Lynda.com's new Filemaker Pro 2015 course has a good description and explains it as the most concurrent connections that you will need rather than the number of users you have.
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Lynda is wrong.