It’s been a while since we’ve had a major release of our update management tool RefreshFM.  It’s not because we don’t have plans for it, but we’ve been waiting to see what we can do in FileMaker 16 and beyond.  And two things recently have meant we’ve had to make some decisions about the future of this product.

Windows will be Windowing

Firstly, FileMaker 16 for Windows introduced the great new MDI interface, with multiple document windows, to better match the model on the Mac.  We think this is a great idea, and well worth it.  However it completely breaks our model for interacting with FileMaker.  Our software manipulates the interface to do its work, so any change to the interface affects what we can do.  We’ve spent a considerable amount of time working on adjusting our code to the new model, and it’s barely even a quarter done, so there’s a lot more that would need to be done to make it work.

Which is why, for now we’d only released the Mac beta of RefreshFM 16.

There’s cool new stuff coming to FileMaker Next

FileMaker has recently updated it’s FileMaker Product Roadmap 2018 to talk about future potential features, and there’s one really cool thing coming.  The roadmap has an item called :

  • FileMaker data migration tool

This is described as :

Using a command-line tool, more easily import large data sets to aid in the updating deployed custom apps.

I’m really hoping the roadmap is accurate and this comes out in FileMaker Next in their annual release cycle.

What this means for RefreshFM

If this is accurate, it’s a great way to do exactly what RefreshFM is designed ultimately to do : migrate data between solutions easily.  If this is the case, we’ve been “sherlocked“.  Well not quite, the definition there says “just started shipping” and RefreshFM has been around in some form for years, we’ve sold a lot of copies and moved a lot of data.

Let me make one thing very clear though : FileMaker is doing the right thing here.  RefreshFM shouldn’t have existed in it’s current form (manipulating the interface of FileMaker to do its work), it’s just that was the only way to get this done quickly and accurately.  As soon as there is a better way to structure the moving of data between files then that will be the way to go.

And it sounds like this is the tool we’ve been asking for, by having a product like RefreshFM in the market, for a long time.  So I’m a happy developer.

Updates and the long term

The other point to make here is that this is really just a step in the right direction.  We shouldn’t be moving data around, we should be updating the structure of the file with new programming and leaving the data intact.  So hopefully FileMaker’s other items in the roadmap that are listed as under consideration :

  • Product update delivery mechanism
  • XML representation of a FileMaker file

start coming soon as well, as these will be the right way to do updates to FileMaker solutions.

So what now?

In the short term, it’s unclear as to whether or not FileMaker’s new tool will support earlier versions of FileMaker Pro or if new versions will be required.  And RefreshFM 15 that people have purchased will work and will continue working and doing it’s thing.  We think there’s still value there for the people who’ve purchased in the past.  Your licence works fine with RefreshFM v3, v14, v15 and v16 Mac beta.

RefreshFM does have some cool features and there’s also potentially a market for this code, and its use in some situations.

So we’re going to make RefreshFM 16 available as is, for Mac only, for v16 only, for $49 for a single user.  Available now.

And we’re going to give you the files unlocked.  No longer restricted, you can open them up and edit at will.

If people are interested in extending RefreshFM 16 to run on Windows, then we’re happy to share our base code ( it’s using WinAutomation for those interested, contact us ).  Or if you’d like to tweak the translations to work on languages other than English, the code is all there.

If you purchased RefreshFM after the roadmap update on 30th September 2017 and would like a refund back to the $49 price point, please contact us.

There’s no upgrade pricing for this, but our usual EDU / NFP discounts apply.

What we’re going to miss

The best thing about RefreshFM was demoing at DevCon every year : watching people watch FileMaker build itself was always gasp inducing.  We’ll miss that 🙂