The End is Near – a Minor Datacalypse is Coming

I have written before about the need to stay current with FileMaker Pro, operating systems and hardware. I recently received an email from a reader who asked:

Between me and a colleague we built a large database with all the bells and whistles back in the days of FM 5.5 and yes, we fell behind or more to the point my colleague moved on and now I need to upgrade to FM 13. How do I go about doing this?

I responded with a short rundown of what to do, (see below) and thought this was worth sharing as support for the .fp3 and .fp5 format is starting to slip away. Recently FileMaker Inc. has announced End of Life for FileMaker Pro 11 support, which is the last bridge from the past to the future.

FileMaker Pro 11 still runs on my MacBook Pro running OS X Yosemite 10.10.3, but who knows when the next update from Apple will break this capability. If FileMaker Inc., is no longer willing to fix things, then that is it. The last link to older files is gone. Are you ready for this?

Look for your old files

A search on my computer brought up hundreds of old format files. Most of these are ancient demos or old client files, which have been upgraded already. There were a few worth looking at though. If your files are really old, FileMaker 11 will still open .fp3 files as well.

The Easy Part – Converting .fp5 files

You need a copy of FileMaker 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11, which will open the file in .fp7 format. Drag and drop your old file on the FileMaker Pro icon, or from the File menu select Open File.

FileMaker Pro 13 Will Not Open .fp3 or .fp5 Files

FileMaker Pro 12, 13 or future versions won’t open a .fp5 or .fp3 file. You can’t open it directly from FileMaker Pro 13

Converting .fp7 to .fmp12 Format

From there you can do the same routine to open the .fp7 file with FileMaker Pro 13.

FileMaker Inc has a number of useful help files with regards to the conversion process. For the most part it is straight forward, but it might be worth reviewing these to see what can go wrong in the conversion.

The Hard Part – Merging Files

Prior to FileMaker Pro 7, all FileMaker data tables were stored as separate files. A reasonably complicated solution might have 50 or more associated files. With the advent of the .fp7 format, it was possible to merge these separated database files into a single database containing multiple data tables. One of the main reasons to make this change is to simplify the security accounts. Instead of having to change users and passwords in many files, you can make your changes all from one place, which means that you might actually change a password occasionally.

Others have detailed the techniques for consolidating files. I found a good overview of the process of consolidating from the earlier multi-file format to a single database.

Getting a Copy of FileMaker Pro 11

A follow up question was where to get a copy of FileMaker 11 to make this transition. I believe you can still get a copy from FileMaker Inc. They don’t list it on their web site, but if you purchase a copy of FileMaker Pro 13 and then talk to someone in sales, requesting a downgrade, they can usually give you access to it.

That’s it. Consider yourself warned.

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