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Requesting your NASTIEST database files (for an open source project)


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Hi all,

Found the forums recently. In my spare time I've been attempting to decode the FileMaker formats (FP3 through FMP12) so that the tables can be extracted for use in other programs. The open source project is here:

https://github.com/evanmiller/fmptools

The project includes basic command-line tools for converting to Excel (XLSX), SQLite, and JSON - all without FileMaker installed. It seems to work well in my testing, although I haven't quite figured out how FileMaker encodes Unicode characters.

I'm at the point where I'd like to test on as many files as possible – this seemed like the right place to ask. So I'm looking for your oldest, crustiest, craziest, most Rube Goldberg-esque database files to see if FMPTools can rise to the challenge of pulling out your data tables from them. If you're comfortable building programs on the command line, you're welcome to try out the tools yourself. Or you can post your file here and I'll take a crack at it. Please specify whether you're okay if I include a copy of your posted database file in the FMPTools test suite.

A focus area right now is Unicode - internally, FileMaker seems to have a custom encoding scheme that's not UTF-8, UTF-16, or anything I've seen before. So if you have files containing non-Western characters (Kanji, Greek, Cyrillic, etc) that would help the project immensely.

If you're a C programmer and curious how FileMaker stores its data, feel free to poke around the source code. I've dealt with many binary file formats in my time, and I think FileMaker deserves some kind of prize for, shall we say, "creativity". Contributions to improve the source code are of course welcome.

I'm hoping that once the core is more battle-hardened, I can offer a more user friendly interface. In the meantime I'm happy to entertain any questions or suggestions about the project. Thanks for reading!

("The Left Brain" seemed like the right place for this post, but mods feel free to relocate it as appropriate.)

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