FileMaker 19: Runtime Deprecation and Alternatives

By May 20, 2020 3 Comments

Runtimes were officially deprecated about five years ago, and now, after this long “notice” period, runtimes can no longer be generated with FileMaker Pro 19. If you have relied on the runtime feature, this will be a significant barrier to adopting FileMaker Pro 19 in your organization. You may be able to wait to upgrade for a little while, but you’ll need to adjust your approach eventually. Here are some options you have to achieve similar functionality utilizing the FileMaker platform:


The iOS App SDK is very similar to runtimes in that it allows you to distribute a solution as its own standalone application without the user needing to install FileMaker Go on their device. Apps built with the iOS App SDK can be distributed via the App Store or Mobile Device Management (MDM) software. Of course, these apps are limited to iOS and iPadOS devices, and I recognize that that greatly limits its feasibility for many organizations. But if your use case could support exclusively iOS devices, it’s worth exploring this option. Click here for more information on the iOS App SDK.

Custom Web Publishing with the FileMaker Data API

You might consider building a web interface for your solution using Custom Web Publishing and the FileMaker Data API. Like runtimes, this allows you to widely distribute your solution without the user needing to install FileMaker Pro. There is some licensing cost involved with using the FileMaker Data API, and a FileMaker Server license would be required. The Data API cost is based on the amount of data requested from your FileMaker Server. Your FileMaker Server license comes with 2 GB per licensed user, per month. This limit can be increased as an additional purchase. Read more about the FileMaker Data API.


Similar to Custom Web Publishing with the FileMaker Data API, FileMaker WebDirect would allow you to widely distribute your application without the user needing to install FileMaker Pro. The key difference between WebDirect and custom web publishing with the Data API is that WebDirect publishes your FileMaker layouts to the web, allowing you to develop the solution entirely using FileMaker Pro. No web coding skills are necessary. However, when using FileMaker WebDirect, all users must have a license. If you have a large or anonymous user base, WebDirect may end up being too costly to implement. Read more about FileMaker WebDirect.

Purchase FileMaker Pro Licenses and Code Your Solution to Work Similar to a Runtime

Lastly, there is the option to purchase licenses for your users and install FileMaker Pro on each user’s computer. In this situation, you may decide to take steps to try to preserve the experience of using a runtime by doing things like providing a launcher file to open the solution and controlling aspects of the user interface to make the user experience as close as possible to using a runtime. You can use custom menus and hide the Status Toolbar to hide the menu options that would not be available to runtime users. You can also use scripting to emulate the single-user nature of runtimes. You can also ‘bind’ the FileMaker Pro installation to your solution by specifying that in the “assisted installer” settings, with this, your solution will open automatically when FileMaker Pro is launched.

Next Steps in FileMaker 19

This is just one of many FileMaker 19 changes our team has been exploring. If you have any questions on the platform’s new functionality, please feel free to contact our team.

Doug Stojak

Doug Stojak

Doug is a Technical Project Lead in Soliant's Chicago office.


  • Avatar Martin Diers says:

    I really wish one of these were a viable solution for my company, but they are not. We use runtimes to do some niche reporting. For example, we have a couple customers who want a barcoded label formatted in a very precise way. Runtimes with a little scripting made it easy for me to hand an app to a couple people to process CSVs and generate labels.

    But the big one is picture packing slips, where each item on a report gets an auto-scaled image originating in a folder of PNGs. FileMaker runs these quickly and efficiently, without running out of memory. It’s the only solution we found that could do it.

    WebDirect can do neither, unless they have substantially improved it in V19. The PDF support in previous versions was very poor. I could never get barcode fonts to work, so barcode labels were right out. And there was no way to insert images from a folder. Also many scripting functions were missing that I relied upon. There was no way to import a CSV via scripting like I could on the Runtime.

    If I have to do custom app development, I have no reason to touch FileMaker for these use cases. FileMaker made this use case super easy. With Runtimes gone, and WebDirect still stunted in comparison, I will have to abandon FileMaker once V18 will no longer run on current versions of macOS.

    • Wim Decorte Wim Decorte says:

      Doesn’t sound like you would need to do custom app development since FM does the job for you, the solution seems to be installing a regular copy of FMP. Ever since Claris removed networking from their runtime (sometime around FM 4.1 I believe) it became clear that they wanted to get away from royalty-free use of their platform. Many FM features never made it into the runtime version over the years. Perhaps a Volume License Agreement would be a good fit for your organization to keep the overall cost down. We can help you with that if needed.

  • Avatar Antonio Shalders says:

    Honestly I’ll stick with FM18. The lack of runtime solutions makes FM19 useless to me.

    I used FM to develop simple database applications for small veterinary clinics for free and I don’t see how any of them would ever thing or have resources to pay for a FM19 licence.

    No Android support means that 70% of the mobile devices are out of of question and my apps need large screens, not a ridiculous sized mobile/ipad half-solution. Web is also not acceptable.

    Webdirect would imply in extreme cost raising for my customeres and , again, not acceptable. I would never, ever make them have a nonsense extra cost.

    Another critical point is that I don’t like SAAS in any of its forms, This is a money sink in the long run and I will never “rent” software.

    I’m already a GeneXus user and I’m considering to kick out FM for new projects and stick with it.

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