You may have noticed a new version of our free FileMaker plugin was released in the last few weeks, bringing the version number to 3.0. Lots of new features in this that are very exciting, but there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes here as well which hasn’t been public and I’d like to go through for all those interested.
It started at Xero
One of the big new things we added in this release is a simple ( on the outside ) function to authenticate against the Xero API. Xero is becoming one of the big new things for online accounting, we use it ourselves and it’s growing worldwide.
At first it seemed like we would need OAuth in the plugin to make this work, so we started down that path. It turns out the Xero interaction is OAuth like but not the same as what we’d developed. After a lot of back and forth and development work at our end, we finally got something working, but realised the function itself is just the beginning.
So we also set to work to write a Xero sync framework that can push and pull data from Xero to a set of local FileMaker tables. This was something beyond the plugin, but that really only has value alongside the plugin.
At this point, we had the plugin as a set of functions that were free, open source and contributed from lots of different people, and a second set that we’d spent way more time and money on, and that also requires a FileMaker sync framework to be useful, that in our mind could be a product on it’s own.
We spent a fair bit of time looking at how we could have two versions of the plugin, one paid and and one free. The paid version would just contain the free functions plus extras. Seems simple enough, even with our model of not having registration functions, until you get into real world questions. For example you want to be able to update from the free to the paid. So they have to have the same names and function names. But then how do you know which is which?
It quickly became apparent that this would only create more work for the people who have paid, who we are trying to improve things for. And the whole point of this at the beginning was to have a single plugin, with no complex registration.
So all of that has been shelved, and we’re back to a single set of open source code, but we need to consider now what to do with the Xero work and then whether we can recover any of the costs of development to date.
Acknowledging the work done so far
All of the plugin development has been done by an outside contractor, so everything we do has a cost. Even though we’ve had some very generous people either contribute code or pay for changes to code, that has been less than one tenth of the total spend to date.
It doesn’t stop here
Also there have been requests for functionality that we just can’t consider, or that would be a lot of work, but that aren’t going to be very popular. It would be nice to have a way to get feedback from users about what should go into the plugin, and how we should extend it.
So we’ve decided give people a better option to sponsor the plugin in order to have a say in where it goes in the future, and to help contribute towards it’s ongoing costs. This would be an annual fee ( $199 for a single user or one person company, and $399 for a larger organisation ). There is no obligation to take this up, you still don’t need to register the plugin, we will continue to open source all of the code, and there will not be a paid version that is separate from the free one.
But anyone who is a sponsor will have access to :
- A dropbox share of every released version of the plugin with instant updates.
- Access to test versions of new releases.
- Any plugin dependent FileMaker code, starting with the Xero code, along with a licence to integrate it in any of their own projects for free, again with no registration.
- Access to a proper support channel.
- A say in what functions will be added in the future, and the ability to suggest new functionality.
- A warm fuzzy feeling that you’re supporting something that all FileMaker developers can benefit from.
Great idea, let me buy
If you’re super keen to get started, you can subscribe here :
There is the option to create an account and password, we suggest you do that if you want to manage any future transactions. The payment gateway is BlueSnap, so you’ll get confirmation details from them.
We won’t be creating a NFP or EDU discount on this, but will let larger organisations purchase a single developer subscription.
Can I tempt you with more?
Thank-you to everyone who has contributed in the past, either code or sponsoring functions. Thanks in advance to everyone who values the plugin enough to sponsor us.