FileMaker 19 has just been released, and there’s a lot to be said about both the new features and the evolution of the platform in general.
Rather than publishing a long video as we usually do, we thought a feature article made more sense this time.
A few background elements first of all. Everything has changed this year at Claris, starting with the company name, still FileMaker Inc. less than a year ago. FileMaker 19 is thus the first major release since the name change, but also and especially since the arrival of a new management team, of which Brad Freitag (CEO), and Srini Gurrapu (Vice President of Products & Design) are the most visible members (but there are also changes at the marketing and sales levels)… in short, a lot has changed, and Claris’ – at first sight a bit naive – baseline “Anything is possible” actually makes sense.
In just a few months, everything that was impossible has become inevitable, therefore possible.
The effects are so numerous and so exciting that we couldn’t list them all, but let’s say a few words about the platform’s development cycles.
First of all, it took Srini Gurrapu about 28 seconds to understand the anachronism of maintaining the Windows and Mac OS versions of FileMaker Server. Dependencies on Java and its implementations make it very expensive, and one of the first things announced at DevCon was that we would move to a single server, which Romain Dunand and I had understood to mean a Linux version. This was confirmed by the same Srini at the FM Conf in France in 2019.
So on the server, we now have – for testing purposes only at this stage – a Linux version in addition to the mac OS and Windows versions, and it is likely that the latter two will be history in a while. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to install a FileMaker Server on a Mac or a Windows PC, but likely the installation will include a Linux virtual machine or docker (Cent OS is mentioned, but other distributions can be used).
Regarding the development cycles themselves, FileMaker 19 is announced as the last numbered version. From now on, we should have a quarterly release instead of an annual one. So the next version should be 2020.1, then we’ll have 2020.2… This allows Claris to release features much faster, and even in a “preview” state in order to collect feedback from users earlier in the cycle. This is already the case with the Add-ons feature, present in version 19 but likely to change (and full of bugs by the way).
So we’re moving from an “old-fashioned” cycle, with functionalities fixed very early on, a big shindig in May with the need for functionalities to be “bling-bling” enough for marketing to do something with them, to much more agile deliveries and functionalities that are more adaptable and even closer to real needs.