FileMaker Pro

What Does FileMaker Pro Mean?

FileMaker Pro is a cross-platform relational database application that is currently being marketed as a low-code/no-code (LCNC) database management system (DBMS) and rapid application development (RAD) software development tool.


Data can be easily exported and imported to and from FileMaker Pro, and the graphical user interface (GUI) is designed to help non-technical line of business (LOB) professionals easily search, filter and sort specific data sets.

Each file in a FileMaker Pro database can consist of multiple tables, layouts, fields, menu sets, scripts, functions, logical relationships, calculations and embedded multimedia objects. Data in one table can be linked to data in other tables and multiple views for each table can easily be created, saved and shared.

In the technology marketplace, FileMaker's competitors include MySQL, Libre Office Space and Zoho. It's possible to connect FileMaker to these other database systems by using a RESTful API called Claris Connect.

Techopedia Explains FileMaker Pro

FileMaker Pro is designed for collecting, sorting, and analyzing data. The software is known for its flexibility and ease of use. A wide spectrum of organizations use FileMaker Pro, including:

  • Government
  • K-12 and higher education
  • Small to mid-size manufacturing
  • Retail, marketing and advertising
  • Publishing
  • Not-for-profit organizations

There is also an extremely diverse and active international FileMaker developer community.

FileMaker Pro Use Cases

Use cases for FileMaker Pro include:

Producing Reports and Summaries — FileMaker Pro offers a step-by-step automated reporting tool. End users can generate and export reports as PDF and Excel files.

Data Publishing on the Web — End users no longer need to export and manipulate database files before sharing them online.

Automatic Web-Based Data Generation — Users can create surveys, customer feedback forms and registration pages that will collect data and integrate it in the database.

Custom Database Files — FileMaker Pro can be used to create customizable databases from scratch or to modify ready-made templates that meet the user's specific requirements.

Data Sharing — The desktop apps on both macOS and Windows devices allow users to securely share access to a FileMaker Pro database with other users on the same network.

In-App File Manipulation — Users can create, rename, delete and read files saved natively on their devices or a connected server without needing third-party plug-ins.

Log Files — FileMaker Pro lets users log scripts that run on a specific database. Log files can be scanned for errors and reduce time spent on troubleshooting.

User-Level Security — Individual user accounts can be assigned to specific roles in order to control privileges at the field, table and layout levels.

FileMaker Pro Workflow

FileMaker Pro users create individual records within the database by inserting data into specified fields that are organized by layouts and tables. FileMaker Pro has four modes:

  • Layout Mode — This mode is to control and modify the appearance of data on the screen.
  • Find Mode — This mode is for locating records and data entries within a table.
  • Preview Mode — This mode provides a view of the data before it gets printed.
  • Browse Mode — This mode is for entering and reading the data records in the database.

FileMaker Pro Licensing

As of 2021, single clients need to purchase a license for Claris FileMaker Pro 19. Other licensing options include:

  • Claris FileMaker Go for use with iOS clients.
  • Claris FileMaker WebDirect for web browser and Android clients.
  • Claris FileMaker Server for on-premises servers.
  • Claris FileMaker Cloud for software as a service (SaaS) cloud clients.

History of FileMaker

Before its current offering as a mobile, desktop, server and cloud app, FileMaker used to be a disk operating system (DOS) application developed by Nashoba Systems. With the introduction of the Macintosh computer and classic Mac OS by Apple, a graphical user interface was added. It was acquired in 1988 by Claris — a software subsidiary of Apple Computer that also once included MacWrite and MacDraw. In 1998, the application was spun off into its own company, FileMaker Inc. In 2020, the company was once again re-branded as Claris International, and FileMaker was kept as the product name.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.