My Support for ".FP7" Files Ends 2013 Dec. 31

UPDATE: As of 2013 Dec. 3, FileMaker Pro Version 13 is available, so old ".FP7" files are now even more out of date than before.

FileMaker Inc. (FMI) released FileMaker Pro (FMP) Version 7 in 2004. That was the one that created files with the ".FP7" extension. Among other virtues, it allowed us to pack multiple database tables into a single file. It was also tremendously robust. It was usable not only by Version 7 but also Versions 8, 8.5, 9, 10, and 11. Thus, as the user interface became more versatile, powerful, and user-friendly, the underlying file structure stayed rock-solid, and files created back in the mid-oh-ohs continued to be usable right up to the present. Frankly, it spoiled us, because it looked like it might last forever.

But computer years are like dog years, the ".FP7" file format finally ran its course, and the good folx at FMI needed to move on, particularly given the explosion of hand-held devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), which were barely a gleam in Steve Jobs's eye back in 2004 and which ".FP7" databases weren't really able to deal with. Thus, in April of 2012, after an unusually long delay following the release of Version 11 in 2010, FMI announced not only a new version (12) of the FMP software but also a new standard for the file structure, called ".fmp12".

Older ".FP7" databases could be converted (quite easily, in fact) to the new ".fmp12" format, but those created natively by FMP 12 weren't backward compatible; they could only be used by FMP 12 (and, eventually, 13, 14, etc.).

So about half my users jumped on board, upgraded their software, converted their files, and kept right on chugging along with the new, enhanced FileMaker Pro. The other half stuck with the older ".FP7" files, since they didn't really need the new features. And this was fine with me for awhile. I was perfectly willing to continue to support the older files, since I'd been doing it all along and couldn't, in all honesty, get everyone converted over all at once in any event.

But it's been a year now, and I've spent a goodly chunk of that year exploring some of the new capabilities within the ".fmp12" file structure and coming up with new standards that I've been installing in the ".fmp12" files I'm supporting. Older ".FP7" files aren't getting those features, and they're lagging further and further behind their brethren. It's not worth my time to do dual-track development even for those features that can be supported under ".FP7", since I've already done the work once for the ".fmp12" format, and I'd much rather work on something new than on repeating the same work under the older system for a dwindling client base.

At the same time, while the ".FP7" files haven't been advancing, they still require the occasional tweak and kick, and I haven't wanted to leave my users in the lurch, especially since I recognize that upgrading the FMP software to Version 12 is a cost item that they may not have budgeted for. But now I'm running into needed (or requested) changes to ".FP7" files that wouldn't have been necessary had they been equipped with the features that I'm making standard with ".fmp12" files, and again I have to question what's the best use of my own time.

So, in order to give everyone time to adjust, I am herewith announcing that, as of 2013 Dec. 31, I will cease supporting systems that use the ".FP7" file format. I will gladly pick up that torch again for the sole purpose of converting such systems to the ".fmp12" format, but I won't be working with ".FP7" any more after that date. That should give you plenty of time to acquire the latest version of the vanilla FMP or FMP Advanced software and get it installed on your system. Let me know if I can be of any help.

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