1 2 3 Previous Next 60 Replies Latest reply on Dec 29, 2014 12:08 PM by campsoftware

    Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?

    jjfcpa

      I've created some applications using some other development tools and this is my company's primary emphasis.  All our applications are downloadable and primarily single-user applications.  We focus on productivity applications for the accounting market.  We've also created a few applications for the Mac app store.

       

      What I am curious about is whether anyone else has created solutions in FMA that are similar to this and whether it would make sense to try and do this?

       

      I use FMA and FMS for in-house solutions that I use to in my business and I'm no where near an expert but I can see some advantages to using it.  Primarily the speed with which you can create solutions and the ability to run the solutions on mobile devices.

       

      I'd be interested to hear what other developers are doing.

        • 1. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
          wimdecorte

          I honestly doubt you'll find any at all.  The true power of the FM platform is:

          1- rapid application development

          2- combined with very good scalability to many concurrent users

           

          By using a runtime you're negating #2 - the next step up from that is buying an FMS license and getting the users copies of FMP.  So be really careful what you promise there.

          • 2. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
            jjfcpa

            I kind of thought that might be the case.  Doesn't help my cause any in trying to get FM into our development plans.

            • 3. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
              wimdecorte

              No point in forcing a square peg into a round hole.

               

              If you can find a smooth path to let users upgrade from a runtime to the fully licensed solution then you have something.

              And development plans don't have to be binary; there's plenty of room to use FM as a proof-of-concept.  What is it you are looking for that you would need a runtime for? What's the business model?

               

              Note that runtimes don't work on FM Go - so don't get your hopes up there.  Local files on iOS will obviously run fine on FM Go without the need for something like a runtime on the desktop.

              • 4. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
                jjfcpa

                We have one large client that we do custom programming for and they are in bad need of an update, but as they say, if it ain't broke, leave it alone.

                 

                About 80% of our development is in vertical market applications for the accounting profession.  As everyone knows, accountants are generally a cheap lot so trying to get them to buy into FM might be a hard sell.  Especially, since move of them don't have any IT department to configure things for them. 

                 

                I used to do a lot of custom development and FM would be perfect for that, but those days are long gone.  However, that doesn't mean that I won't use it for my internal needs.  The rapid application development can't be understated because that's one of the things that I most appreciate it about it.  And yes, even just using it to prototype applications can be a time saver.

                 

                Actually, I have a link to a page that tells you how to get a runtime application on FMGO.  Not a complicated process at all.

                • 5. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
                  wsvp

                  I am going to take a slightly different perspective than wim... I think the Runtime is a tremendously valuable piece of the FileMaker "deployment" process. In fact every solution I build can be deployed with:

                  • Runtime

                  • FM Go

                  • FM Pro Client (with or without Peer-to-peer) sharing

                  • FM Server

                  • FM hosting service.

                   

                  I have used the Runtime as "part" of my deployment since the mid 1990's when it was call a "Binder" and cost $1500 for the license.

                   

                  From the standpoint of the Runtime..., the runtime itself is nothing more than a separate application and extensions that are bundled with the FM file you develop. The file itself will run just fine in FM Go or desktop, as long as it maintains the .fmp12 extension. The primary limitations of the runtime are...

                  • Single user (when run from the runtime)

                  • No PDF Export

                  • No FileMaker built-in charting, "if you like FM's charting" (I do NOT, so I built my own).

                   

                  I personally feel that the Runtime is a "highly scalable" way to deploy, as a Client can start out as a single user with Runtime, then expand into peer-to-peer or FM Server as needed. The important thing is that the development be done in a multi-user approach. Often the runtime is a great way to get the product in the door, not everyone needs networking right away. Deploying as a runtime in no way takes away from the potential of the solution down the line.

                   

                  I think that "on this forum" you may find that what wim stated to be the more common opinion, most (if not all) of the posts here seem more oriented towards developers that build solutions, targeted at a single client and customized for that client. If you operate as a "Boxed Product" developer (which I do) you expect the solution to be sold as a wholesale or retail product. This method requires a completely different philosophy. The "single" solution is designed to be deployed (and updated) to thousands or tens of thousands of clients, at a much lower unit price point.

                   

                  Under this approach FM Pro or FM Server would be marketed as products to support networking.

                   

                  Keep in mind, I do NOT generally recommend developing "ONLY" for Runtime deployment, but I do feel the Runtime should be considered as a valuable deployment method. I also think it is an important revenue gateway for FileMaker as well.

                  • 6. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
                    intex

                    We are doing this since 1994 - www.intex-publishing.de

                     

                    There are enough database usages that do not need the scalability to x users. And there are enough private customers, freelancers and small companies that do not need client-server-networking or just can´t afford it.

                    • 8. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
                      jimfeuerstein

                      I think it’s feasible. It depends on your market.


                      We did it for a while, but we dropped it largely because we had a greater demand for multi-user installations than we had expected, and we wanted to reduce the complexity of our offerings.


                      We sell a product used by lawyers to manage documents and testimony in litigation, and today we offer it three ways, each with different pricing:

                       

                      - Desktop — used mostly by solo practitioners, sometimes using peer-to-peer sharing with a paralegal

                      - Server — used by small and midsize firms, usually with some sort of tech staff

                      - Hosted — used primarily by ‘distributed’ firms; small firms with lawyers in multiple locations, or by a group of firms for a single case


                      There’s a single set of code for all three, although some functions are available only on the server or may behave differently on the server (e.g. using PSOS).


                      Originally, we also offered a version called ‘Solo’ that was a runtime. We dropped that version after about a year, for four reasons:


                      1. We discovered that multi-user installations were a bigger part of our market than we had expected


                      2. We wanted to simplify our distribution by eliminating two ‘versions’ of the software (runtime for Windows, runtime for Mac)


                      3. We joined the SBA program, thus reducing the cost of shipping FileMaker Pro as a part of our application.


                      4. We often provide additional data analysis services to our users in support of their cases, and it’s nice to know that the client already has FileMaker in place, so we can deliver that analysis as though we were simply sending them a spreadsheet.


                      We still use the runtime to offer ‘trial’ versions of the software.

                      • 9. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
                        user1081

                        i feel the biggest drawback to selling a runtime is updates. Everyone wants updates and that's where the money is. With FileMaker being a combined architecture rather than separate data and structure, you need to dump data and import it into the new database. PITA

                        • 10. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
                          jjfcpa

                          Yes, the updates situation is hard to overcome or simplify for the enduser.  We have our own update routine for our other applications and they are fairly easy to implement with the data separated from the application.

                           

                          The other thing that is very, very hard to overcome is if you try to design a "service bureau" application.  A good example of this is a program like Quickbooks.  You can create an unlimited number of data files with Quickbooks so that each "client's" data resides in a separate file.  This is fairly common for applications that are marketed to accountants.  FM does not make this easy to do, if at all.

                          • 11. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
                            intex

                            jjfcpa schrieb:

                             

                            The other thing that is very, very hard to overcome is if you try to design a "service bureau" application.  A good example of this is a program like Quickbooks.  You can create an unlimited number of data files with Quickbooks so that each "client's" data resides in a separate file.  This is fairly common for applications that are marketed to accountants.  FM does not make this easy to do, if at all.

                             

                            I don´t think that this is too complex.

                             

                            We always offer in our applications

                             

                            a) a button to create a new database as a clone with data from the existing file. This way the user can keep all his preferences - which we save in the file incl. his keycode - plus the file keeps being tied to the runtime.

                            b) a button to open database files with which you can load a second, third etc. file

                            c) a button to restore the database file to "factory defaults" or at least delete all user data except preferences. This way the user can have a new and empty database.

                             

                            The popup "Datenbanken" includes all these options in the start screen of our software.

                             

                            Bildschirmfoto 2014-12-26 um 11.03.35.png

                             

                             

                            Only problem is, that you can´t double click the created database files to open in the runtime. FM runtime will always open the first database. But in our experience only Mac users tend to doubleclick the database files.

                             

                            We also thought of a startup script in our runtime files, that only offers Create, Load and Quit, if the file is called start.xxx and if it is a user defined name, it will go ahead to the main menu. We didn´t do that so far, because it would be more clicks to run the software for the majority of customers who only need one database at the same time.

                            • 12. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
                              BillMiller

                              I've been making and selling runtimes to the NFP market for years.

                              It works for that market, churches, that don't have a lot of money for the additional FM license.

                              Just finished my book writing about my experiences, called "Easy Apps! How to Make Money Selling Applications made with FileMaker"

                              There's a niche for almost every aspect of what FileMaker can do.

                              Best to you!

                              • 13. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
                                jjfcpa

                                Hey Bill - Saw your book on Amazon.  Read through the intro and sounds very interesting.  I agree with the concept even though from my perspective (having never done it) it's a little hard to see how the whole process fits together. 

                                 

                                I may have to drop a dime and get a copy of your book just to get a better understanding of the whole process.

                                • 14. Re: Anyone making a living creating and selling runtime (desktop or go) solutions?
                                  doctorvandermast

                                  I've been selling a FM runtime database for bird watchers for some years now. Being able to use FM as my development platform let's me build on all of FileMaker's powerful database features and focus most of my work on a good, easy to use, human interface. I like to think I have some skills at designing software so it's intuitive to use. And, since birders tend to be an older demographic, this really pays off.

                                   

                                  I provide free telephone customer support. I find it's worth my time to do so because it's the best way to find out what parts of the interface users have trouble with and keep refining it.

                                   

                                  Each year the taxonomy of the birds of the world gets modified and I bring out a new version with the new data and some new features that customers have requested. They do have to transfer their data, but that is mostly automated for them. Seems to work OK for most customers. My main customer support issues are things like helping older customers understand how to move a file from one folder to another or install the application icon to the dock.

                                   

                                  In 2015, I'll release a version, built in FM13, that will run on the desktop and all iOS platforms. That was a fun design project. Good iPhone layouts were quite a challenge.

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