Comparing FileMaker to MySQL

Modified on September 7, 2016.

FileMaker logo  MySQL logo

Let’s Compare FileMaker to MySQL

Both FileMaker and MySQL are for data storage and let you create custom applications. However, FileMaker has a built-in user interface while MySQL does not, so there is an extra cost for creating user interfaces when using MySQL. MySQL also requires knowledge of the SQL programming language, while FileMaker has no programming language requirement.

FileMaker is better for local area network, desktop 1st applications with 100 simultaneous users or less, while MySQL would be my recommendation for web 1st or wide area network applications, or any application with the possibility of more than 100 simultaneous users.

FileMaker Pros

  • easy to use and install
  • easy to have multiple users accessing the same solution
  • includes built-in templates to help you get started
  • support is readily available
  • changing field/database/table/script names at any time is not a problem
  • built-in support for importing and exporting Excel, comma-separated-value and tab-separated text files
  • built-in support for exporting PDFs
  • built-in reporting and charting tools
  • built-in support for accessing external datasources (like web sites, MySQL databases, JDBC and ODBC datasources)
  • you can restrict user access to data on table, record or field level
  • lots of plug-ins available for additional functionality (like creating barcodes and synchronizing with QuickBooks)
  • you can work with your solution on Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPads, android phones and tablets and by using a web browser
  • the user interface frontend and data storage backend are combined in one application
  • works on both the Windows and Mac operating systems
  • FileMaker desktop software works on Windows and Mac desktops, FileMaker WebDirect lets you access your database thru a desktop or mobile web browser (without having to create a separate frontend using HTML, JavaScript, PHP, or Lasso). WebDirect lets you access your database thru an android phone or tablet and FileMaker Go runs on iPhones and iPads
  • FileMaker desktop client software allows a tested 250 simultaneous connections to FileMaker Server (and theoretically unlimited simultaneous connections – determined by your hardware, database design, and operating system)

FileMaker Cons

  • commercial, not free
  • limited to a combined total of 100 simultaneous FileMaker, FileMaker Go and WebDirect connections to FileMaker Server
  • scaling issues – if you have a large number of simultaneous connections you may experience slower performance
  • wide area network issues – if you have users across multiple states you may experience slower performance

MySQL Pros

  • easy to use and install
  • support is readily available
  • is open source and free
  • server software works on MacOS X, Linux, Windows, Solaris and FreeBSD operating systems
  • built-in support for accessing external datasources (ADO.net, JDBC and ODBC)
  • supports up to 1,000 simultaneous connections
  • supports up to 10,000 simultaneous connections if you have enough gigabytes of RAM and each connection’s interaction with the database is limited

MySQL Cons

  • no user interface, so one must be created (using HTML and a scripting language like PHP or Lasso, etc.)
  • you can NOT change field/database/table/script names without problems; once your user interface has been created any changes made to your database structure will also need to be made in your user interface code
  • on the desktop, databases can only be accessed using additional software like the free Terminal or MySQL Workbench or commercial Navicat

In Conclusion

While both FileMaker and MySQL let you create custom applications for storing data, FileMaker’s built-in user interface, no programming language requirement, built-in templates to help you get started quickly and ease-of-use make it better for local area network, desktop 1st applications with 100 simultaneous users or less, while FileMaker’s simultaneous connections limitations and wide area network issues make MySQL my recommendation for web 1st or wide area network applications, or any application with the possibility of more than 100 simultaneous users.

3 comments on “Comparing FileMaker to MySQL


  1. Please note that the 100-connection limit you present is a little misleading. That limit applies to WebDirect, FileMaker Go (for iOS), and FileMaker for User Connections. For fully licensed FileMaker Pro or Advanced clients, the tested limit is 250, with a theoretical unlimited maximum (dependent on hardware and configuration).

    Otherwise, good article.

  2. Oops, forgot the link on the previous comment:

    http://help.filemaker.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/15663/

    • I’ve updated the post. Thanks.

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