FileMaker 18 Release

By Craig Saunders, 23 May 2019

FileMaker Inc have released the major annual update to the entire FileMaker platform today bringing a bunch of under-the-hood improvements and a few quite valuable, though generally quite technical new features. There are new versions of:

  • FileMaker Pro Advanced 
  • FileMaker Server*
  • FileMaker Go

*The Server update includes a new version of WebDirect too — better, faster, stronger.

Should You Update?

In short Yes! ...but not necessarily immediately — here’s how we see it:

On Desktop, iPad and iPhone

We think you’ll be fine to go ahead and update the FileMaker Pro Advanced app on your computers and iOS devices right away — the business world is getting used to updating software regularly and even automatically now which you see with most cloud software.

On Server

We’re a little more cautious on FileMaker Server, where we reckon on waiting at least a couple of weeks to see if any issues emerge: FileMaker Server has had some substantial changes in how it works and while these have been tested extensively for many months now, there’s nothing like the real-world to turn up issues in software.

We’ll be progressively upgrading our own servers in coming days so that we too get some real world miles under our belts and can advise you.

That said, if you’re suffering from bottlenecks on the server then the good news is that 18 brings some huge improvements to multitasking, which basically means the server can better handle lots of users and tasks at once. In which case, let’s get on and upgrade you as soon as possible—just drop us a line asap.

Mix and Match

You can mix and match too — you don’t have to update for FileMaker Server immediately, and nor is it necessary for everyone in your organisation to update their apps at once.

In fact, it’s also possible to keep both FM17 and 18 on your device or computer, so you can try 18 and still fall back to 17 if there is anything misbehaving. (And in which case, let us and FileMaker know — use "Feedback" under the Help menu.)

To be clear though, in the long run though you’ll want everyone in the organisation on the same version and we always recommend staying up with the current version for robustness, security and to ensure you have the latest capabilities available. Also please bear in mind that the new version is not extra licenses — you’re not permitted to use your previous version for other users; please ensure you are licensed for the correct number of users.

What’s New?

Aside from the Server architecture, which is in fact one of the biggest and best things in our view, here’s what else is new:

For developers:

  • New commands for reading and writing text files
  • A new “while” construct for loops in calculations — Wahoo! Now we don’t have to think about recursion in order to create functions that work through piece of data. 
  • Full XML / text dump of a database file — great for version control and change tracking.
  • Script error logging

New capabilities:

  • Support for more barcode types
  • Start-up Restoration — FileMaker files can now automatically recover themselves after a hardware or software crash on server.
  • Auto-open a particular database app on launch — simpler and easier for people who’re using one primary application within FileMaker.
  • Improvements to the “Data API”, allowing other apps better access to data stored in your FileMaker solution
  • Vastly improved data import tool
  • Enhancements to security, especially plugins and external access

Insecure Plugins 

When you first launch FileMaker 18 you may well get warnings like this for each of the plugins you use:

plugin warning

The reason is that FileMaker now requires code to be "signed" by the developer, which simply ensures that it hasn't been hacked or modified. It's best practice and all apps are like that nowadays so it makes sense that the plugins should be too. You can go ahead and "Load plugin" for now, and I'd be inclined to tick the "Always load this plugin" option too, otherwise you are going to be prompted every time you open FileMaker 18. 

That said, the correct and proper solution is to go and get the latest version of the plugin from whomever made it — all plugin developers should have released an update which is signed and secured in the correct way by now or very soon. If you're using our Reactor plugin, the latest version can be found on our site.


Moving On:

FileMaker, as with most software makers nowadays are pushing more forward rather than maintaining a lot of backward capability. Not only does this make life a lot easier for the developer, it also ensures the latest robustness and security. It’s an important move and we fully support it — for us, maintaining old versions and having to work in them when clients don’t stay current means inefficiency and frustration.

Plus with the move to ongoing subscription licenses means you’re always entitled to run the current version, and it’s easier just to stay current than lag and then have to catch up.

And… What are we losing in FM18?

  • macOS High Sierra or better is now required
  • Peer to Peer sharing is “deprecated” and permitted for testing purposes only*
  • Swedish language version of FM Server is being dropped
  • No new app icon — this version retains the same icon as FileMaker 17



And some of the older licensing options have now ended: the transition to a simple per user license continues and we think this is a great idea, ultimately making licensing simpler and keeping it fair. 

*Peer to peer sharing refers to being able to open a database on your computer and let others connect to it, thus “saving” you having to run the database on server. It’s kinda convenient but not very robust or secure way to run a business at all. Given that FileMaker user licensing includes server (in fact you’re permitted to run 3!) we believe this is a good move. It is still useful in some cases, particularly when developing a new database and wanting to connect from an iOS device directly to the database on your machine as you’re building it, and that use case is still supported and permitted.




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