5 Filemaker Alternatives & Competitors for 2024

Published by Ronan McQuillan, Jan 2, 2024

Claris FileMaker Pro is one of the oldest names in the low-code space. Claris is a subsidiary of Apple, so FileMaker was originally conceived as essentially being a Microsoft Access alternative for Mac users.

This is an important piece of context because it means that FileMaker started life as an integrated relational database engine and GUI. This remains its core offering, but it’s also evolved to include functionality around building custom interfaces and automations.

FileMaker can be a powerful solution, but it isn’t for everyone. Today, we’re situating it in the wide low-code market as we check out some of the top FileMaker alternatives.

Along the way, we’ll also present you with a full account of how you can choose the right platform based on your real-world needs, target users, data ops, use cases, and more.

Specifically, we’re going to cover:

Let’s jump in.

What is FileMaker?

Launched in the mid-1980s, FileMaker is a low-code tool for creating and managing databases - as well as building applications on top of stored data. It’s available as a local package on Windows and Mac, as well as in a cloud-based service.

The goal is to provide users with a drag-and-drop interface for establishing and populating database schemas, as well as building user interfaces for interactions with this data.

It’s primarily aimed at facilitating basic data management tasks, including CRUD operations, validation, storage, auditing, and governing access. On top of this, it’s popular for automating menial tasks and creating simple forms, reports, and other UIs.

Helpfully, FileMaker provides dedicated functionality for shipping native web and mobile apps, making it a great solution for teams that need to output cross-platform solutions. For more technical users, it also integrates with JavaScript, PHP, HTML, XML, and other tools.

Who uses FileMaker?

FileMaker is particularly popular among SMBs. One way of thinking about its niche is scenarios where data volumes are too large for spreadsheets to be tenable but the users tasked with managing this data lack the technical skills for a traditional RDBMS.

As such, FileMaker users tend not to be developers - or even IT professionals. Rather, it’s used heavily by departmental leaders, business technologists, project managers, and other colleagues who need an accessible way to control internal data assets.

Where technical colleagues are involved, FileMaker is typically used as a means to output simple internal tools quickly - especially by already overburdened IT teams. For example, in industries like education or smaller-scale inventory, HR, and customer-facing contexts.

We’ve already hinted at some of the key use cases. On top of forms and reporting, FileMaker is also a strong option for building CRUD tools, admin panels, portals, and approval apps on top of stored data or external data sources via API or ODBC connections.

Why would you need a FileMaker alternative?

FileMaker has been around for a very long time - especially in the context of the wider low-code market. The trouble is that this space has experienced huge disruption over the past few years and legacy vendors have struggled to keep pace.

For example, many users complain that it lags behind newer platforms in terms of both capabilities and developer experiences. Compared to newer competitors, it also presents a relatively steep learning curve.

For example, although the drag-and-drop interface designer is perfectly intuitive, it’s somewhat more limited in terms of customization than some other platforms on the market, as we’ll see shortly.

FileMaker is also designed to be sticky. That is, the intention is for teams to adopt FileMaker and continue using it for storing data in the long term. Data is stored in a proprietary format, making it tricky to migrate to a more sophisticated RDBMS when you outgrow FileMaker.

On top of this, FileMaker hasn’t exactly kept pace with changes to the way businesses handle data over the past decade or so.

For example, handling unstructured data in NoSQL databases may be possible via API connections, but experiences for doing so are not streamlined. If this is important to you, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Finally, as with any other IT procurement decision, you may determine that FileMaker could be a viable solution for your particular use case - but that other vendors offer a more cost-effective way to achieve the same thing.

5 FileMaker alternatives

With a fuller picture of what FileMaker is and what it does, we can start to survey the wider market.

First, though, we should make a couple of general points. The market for low-code platforms has a huge amount of internal variation. Different vendors take a different approach to helping teams improve their internal data operations.

So, some tools want to lock users into their platform as a database and application builder, while others still provide an internal database, but make it easier to handle external data.

Similarly, platforms vary in terms of the kinds of users they empower to build solutions - with vendors variously targeting non-technical users, professional developers, and all places in between.

Our top picks for FileMaker alternatives are:

  1. Budibase
  2. PowerApps
  3. Retool
  4. Appian
  5. Mendix

Here’s a summary of what each one brings to the table.







Pricing ModelPer userPer creator +
per user
Per creator +
per user
Flat fee +
per user
Per userPer user +
Free AppsUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited00Unlimited
Built-In Database
Multiplayer mode
Front-End ScriptingProprietaryJavaScriptHandlebarsJavaScriptPower FX
Custom Components
Custom Data Sources
Automation BuilderVia Power Automate
Security certsISO27001 SOC 2ISO27001SOC 2ISO27001 SOC 2ISO27001 SOC 2ISO27001 SOC 2
Audit Logs
Public APIUnder Alpha
App Embeds

Let’s check each one out in turn.

1. Budibase

Budibase is an open-source, low-code platform that empowers teams to turn data into action. Like FileMaker, we offer a built-in database, a drag-and-drop UI builder with front-end scripting, and a range of tools for automating and managing internal processes.

However, unlike FileMaker, Budibase is optimized for busy IT teams in large organizations that need to output professional solutions at pace.

Budibase design platform interface


Whereas external data sources must be configured manually in FileMaker using API requests and ODBC, we offer a range of dedicated connectors for SQL and NoSQL databases, as well as REST APIs, Google Sheets, Airtable, and more.

We also offer a built-in low-code database with full support for CSV imports and a spreadsheet-like interface for performing CRUD actions or altering table schemas. Budibase users can even create their own custom data sources using our CLI tools.

Our interface designer makes custom coding totally optional. We offer a range of tools for building highly advanced user experiences without writing a single line of code - including adding conditionality, mobile responsiveness, app theming, and more.

Budibase also makes it incredibly easy to automate manual tasks. Use our flow-chart-based automation builder to craft custom rules by configuring a huge range of built-in triggers and actions.

We even offer free SSO, optional self-hosting, custom branding, flexible RBAC, and more.

Use cases

Budibase is the ideal solution for IT teams that struggle to keep pace with the demand for custom internal tools.

Solutions architects, data specialists, product owners, systems engineers, and other IT professionals choose our platform to ship tools without using up internal development resources.

Budibase is ideally suited to building all sorts of workflow apps, including forms, approval tools, CRUD solutions, portals, admin panels, dashboards, and other internal tools.

In particular, Budibase excels at enabling teams to build efficient user experiences based on a wide range of existing data sources.


Budibase is priced on a per-user basis, distinguishing between the colleagues who build apps and the ones who use them. This means it’s incredibly cost-effective to scale as your needs evolve and grow.

We also offer one of the most generous free tiers in the low-code market. Build unlimited applications with as many data sources as you want for up to five users in the cloud or twenty if you self-host. We even offer free SSO.

Our Premium tier bills at $50 per month for creators and $5 for end users with custom branding, configurable views, app backups, and more.

We also offer custom enterprise pricing with a range of advanced security features.

2. PowerApps

PowerApps is one of FileMaker’s most direct competitors. It’s Microsoft’s low-code offering and the flagship of their Power Platform ecosystem.

It’s a particularly good choice for businesses for businesses that are already heavily embedded in the Microsoft ecosystem. However, there are a few key areas where it falls short for users who are not.

PowerApps UI


As we hinted at, PowerApps works very neatly across other tools in the Power Platform and Office365 ecosystems. So, it offers integrations with Power Automation, SharePoint, Dynamics, PowerBI, SQL Server, and more.

It’s a low-code platform, but it uses its own proprietary scripting language called Power Fx. This very closely resembles the kind of formulae that most business users will be familiar with from Excel, so adding custom logic can be relatively easy.

On top of this, Microsoft provides a huge range of templates for various use cases to help get you started with PowerApps


PowerApps’ biggest downside is its steep learning curve. We said a second ago that Power Fx is relatively familiar, but we nonetheless need to learn it in order to get the full effect of using the platform.

It’s also very strict syntactically and many Power Apps users complain that it can be very difficult to get functions to work as intended without effective error messaging.

PowerApps also lacks some of the key functionality of other FileMaker alternatives. For instance, it can’t be self-hosted. You’ll also need a separate license for Power Automate if you want to build automations.


One reason for Power Apps’ popularity is its simple, comparatively affordable pricing model. All users are billed at $20 per month - whether they’re creators or end users.

However, related platforms like Power Automate - which you might also need - bill separately.

A PowerApps license enables us to build as many applications as we want, although there are other usage limitations. For instance, around data stored via the Microsoft Dataverse.

3. Retool

Retool is probably the best-known modern low-code platform. Launched in 2017, it’s played a big role in the growing popularity of low-code over the past few years.

However, unlike most of the other tools we’ll see today, it’s aimed squarely at professional developers. This means that it offers a relatively high degree of flexibility and customization but at the expense of usability for less technical colleagues.

Retool UI


Retool took a large market share away from platforms like FileMaker and PowerApps by offering intuitive, efficient developer experiences. It offers a powerful drag-and-drop builder for adding components and configuring them with custom code.

It also offers strong experiences around configuring your data layer. Unlike FileMaker, there are a range of dedicated connectors for external databases - so we don’t have to set this up manually via ODBC.

Retool also offers a flexible, flow-based automation builder. This gives developers extensive scope for adding custom code, branching logic, and more.


Retool is a developer-focused platform, first and foremost. This isn’t a criticism as such - but it means that we’re more likely to need to write custom code for any given use case than we are with the other FileMaker alternatives in this list.

It’s also one of the more expensive solutions on the market - both in terms of actual per-user costs and in terms of feature and usage limitations.

Retool is also entirely closed-source, meaning that its source code can’t be audited by security teams - even though it’s intended to interact with external production databases.


Retool has a four-tier billing model - Free, Team, Business, and Enterprise. Like Budibase, it charges differently for developers and end users, which helps with scalability.

However, each pricing tier also introduces other restrictions. For example, the Team tier bills at $10 per month for developers and $5 for end users, but limits us to 5,000 automation runs. We’d need to go for a more expensive plan to overcome this limit.

Key functionalities like custom branding and SSO are reserved for the Enterprise tier, which also has the potential to make Retool a very expensive option.

4. Appian

Appian occupies a slightly different corner of the low-code market. Like FileMaker, it still offers a built-in database and visual interface for building app UIs.

However, it positions itself as a process automation tool as much as an app builder. Naturally, there’s a lot of overlap here, but it means that the priorities are a little bit different than with other FileMaker alternatives.

Appian website interface


Appian offers some very advanced capabilities in the realm of automation. On top of its flowchart-based automation builder, there are dedicated tools for process modeling, RPA, machine learning, performance analytics, and more.

It’s also aimed at a somewhat less technical target persona than a platform like Retool. Although it is still a low-code platform, so we do have scope to add custom scripting if required.

Users have the option to self-host Appian, which is an important selling point over the likes of PowerApps, which don’t support this.


However, Appian doesn’t offer us the same degree of flexibility and customization as some other players in the low-code space. This is the trade-off of targeting their platform at less technical colleagues.

While self-hosting is available, many users complain that releases to this don’t keep pace with the cloud-based counterpart. This is obviously frustrating, as it could mean we sacrifice new functionality if we want to deploy internal tools to our own infrastructure.

Lastly, some users complain that Appian isn’t quite optimized for working with larger data sets.


Appian has quite an interesting pricing model. Like most tools in this space, pricing is per-user. However, uniquely they treat users differently depending on how often they interact with the product.

On the Application tier, this breaks down as $75 for standard users, $9 for infrequent users, and $2 for input-only users. This could potentially be very affordable or very expensive - depending on your real-world needs.

You can build unlimited apps for up to 15 users in the free plan, while there are also two separate enterprise tiers - with per-user and per-development pricing.

5. Mendix

Lastly, we have Mendix. This is another one of the more established names in the low-code space. Like Retool, it’s also heavily targeted towards developers, especially within larger organizations.

So, we have some interesting functionality around integrating Mendix with various SDLCs, development processes, and other tools that are typically relied on by these kinds of teams.

Mendix UI


Mendix is centered around a visual IDE - Mendix Studio Pro. This combines a drag-and-drop UI for handling components with extensive scope for adding front-end scripting, business logic, and integrations.

Mendix is also highly extensible. There’s a proprietary SDK for building custom integrations, components, reusable scripts, and more. Therefore, it can be a very powerful option - assuming you have the technical skills to take advantage of this.

There’s also a very large, active community of developers, providing helpful resources, tips, extensions, and other contributions.


The place where Mendix really falls down is usability. It’s a very code-intensive platform, even for performing relatively simple tasks. For example, we’ll often need to write custom CSS for even basic design customization.

Even aside from the high requirement for coding skills, Mendix presents a much steeper learning curve than many of the other tools we’ve seen.

It’s very enterprise-focused, meaning it will be prohibitively expensive for most smaller-scale projects.


Mendix’s pricing works a little bit differently from most other tools in this sector. For single-application licenses, there are four tiers - Free, Basic, Standard, and Premium. Of course, we can’t scale very far with just a single application.

The Basic and Standard tiers charge flat fees of $80 and $500 per month respectively for a single application - with extra charges for each additional user.

You’ll need to pay at least $2,000 per month to build multiple applications, while features like self-hosting are only available with custom pricing.

FileMaker vs Budibase

Now that we’ve seen a range of options from across the low-code market, we can dive a little deeper into how FileMaker and Budibase compare to one another.

Both platforms are designed to improve the way teams manage data and create internal tools.

However, in practice, they take very different approaches to achieving this. Let’s break this down.


At its core, FileMaker is a database platform that gives non-technical users a solution to improve the way they handle internal data - especially if this would otherwise mean reliance on spreadsheets.

Ultimately, the goal is for teams to adopt FileMaker instead of using a more advanced DBMS. They can then build applications and automate workflows on top of this.

Budibase is optimized for building internal tools on top of all sorts of existing data. We offer native connectors for all kinds of SQL and NoSQL databases, Google Sheets, Airtable, and REST APIs - as well as custom data sources via our plug-ins CLI.

Like FileMaker, we also offer a built-in, low-code database, with full support for CSV uploads - so users can build their data model from scratch with minimal development experience.


FileMaker is more limited than more modern alternatives when it comes to building UIs. Some users complain that there’s a lack of flexibility when it comes to designing screens and app theming.

For the most part, it’s best suited to building things like forms and reports, but you might want to look elsewhere for tools that relate to more complex business logic.

At Budibase, our UI builder makes custom code totally optional. You can add front-end logic with JavaScript or our library of built-in handlebars helpers.

But you can also add conditionality, mobile responsiveness, complex filtering, design customization, and more with no prior development skills.


Automations in FileMaker are script-based. But we don’t necessarily have to do this from scratch. Remember, the platform isn’t really aimed at professional developers. So, they provide a library of script steps that can be combined to create custom rules.

This can be powerful, but it’s not ideal if you don’t have the coding skills to understand what each step does or how it works.

Budibase’s flow-based automation editor offers a much more effective experience for non-developers. Simply combine our built-in trigger and action blocks to build highly configurable automation rules.

We also offer support for custom scripting using JavaScript within automations.

How to choose a FileMaker alternative

Lastly, we need to restate that no low-code platform is fully optimized for every possible use case or organization. Instead, we need to have a realistic picture of the kinds of decision points we’re most likely to encounter when choosing a FileMaker alternative.

We’ve hinted at many of these already. For instance, we know that platforms offer varying scope for adding custom code vs empowering users with lesser technical skills.

Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to consider to choose a FileMaker alternative.


The most obvious calculation we’ll want to make is around costs. At first glance, this might seem relatively straightforward since most platforms in this space bill on a per-user basis.

But, in reality, things are a bit more complicated than that. Some platforms treat different kinds of users differently, while others treat them all the same. Vendors also impose very different feature restrictions and usage limits across their pricing tiers.

This can mean that we might need a more expensive license for certain vendors in order to access certain functionality.

So, it’s useful to have an exemplary breakdown of how costs might look for each of the platforms we’ve seen. We’re assuming that all users interact with your apps at least once per week and that unlimited automations are required.







2 creators + 50 users$2,236$350$680$3,175$1,040$3,900
3 creators + 100 users$4,429$650$1,320$4,450$2,060$7,725
5 creators + 200 users$8,815$1,250$2,500$7,000$4,100$15,375
6 creators + 1000 users$43,258$5,300$12,140$27,025$20,120$75,450
*Appian provides a $66 discount for any user who accesses an application less than four times in a given month, so licensing costs may be considerably lower for infrequent usage.

User personas

We’ve seen extensively that each of the FileMaker alternatives in our guide today aims to help different kinds of users manage data and build applications.

The starkest aspect of this is their level of technical abilities. So, some platforms are aimed at business-level users with very little technical skills. Others are essentially platforms for professional developers.

In between, we have tools that target users with some coding ability - who fall short of the skill levels of actual software engineers.

Here’s one way that we can break this down.







Technical level - Target usersLow - Business usersMedium - IT teamsHigh - EngineersHigh - EngineersMedium - IT teamsMedium - IT teams


Scalability is the ease with which we can add new capacity to the applications we build in our chosen low-code platform - whether this is adding new data, users, capabilities, or some other factor.

There are two things to consider here. One is the actual technical side of scaling our usage. For example, some tools don’t support NoSQL database connections, so they won’t be much use with larger data sets that leverage these kinds of platforms.

The other thing is the cost of scaling.

So we need to be cognizant of the fact that we’ll encounter various user limits and feature restrictions that will mean we need to upgrade within different vendor’s pricing models as our needs change.

Costs are also impacted by how vendors treat different kinds of users. Generally, it’s cheaper to scale if there’s a distinction between creators/administrators and end users than it is if these are all billed equally.


Extensibility is how easily we can add new capabilities to a platform or integrate it with our wider tool stack. Nowadays, most platforms allow you to connect to external tools via API requests and WebHooks.

However, some offer additional functionality - like their own internal APIs which can be used to add even greater capabilities. Others offer custom plug-ins or even SDKs for adding to native functionality.

In the world of low-code development, however, the most important thing is external data support. That is, the kinds of existing data sources that a platform enables you to interact with natively.

Here’s a breakdown of how extensibility factors in across the FileMaker alternatives we’ve seen today.








Custom Components
Custom Data Sources
REST API connector
AI integrations
WebhooksPriced separately
Public APIUnder Alpha
OIDC Auth supportFree planEnterprise planEnterprise planEnterprise planEnterprise plan

Open-source vs closed-source

Lastly, we have the issue of open-source vs closed-source platforms. Open-source software is a top priority for many businesses - especially enterprises or organizations that deal with large volumes of sensitive data.

Essentially, the power to audit the source code of any tools that will be hosted or internal infrastructure or interact with production data is a core security issue for these kinds of businesses.

Here’s how the tools we’ve seen today break down in this regard.







Open-source vs Closed-sourceClosed-sourceOpen-sourceClosed-sourceClosed-sourceClosed-sourceClosed-source