Claris Connect: First Impressions

Connect has been much anticipated in the FileMaker development community since last year when Claris nee FileMaker acquired the product from its former developer, Stamplay. Claris Connect has been in beta since that time and was released to the general public this past month.

We participated in the beta program for Connect, but not to a great degree and with being in the office more than usual lately (thanks Covid 19!) I’ve had a chance to create my first couple of small projects in Connect.

So first of all, what is Claris Connect? 
A lot of our work in FileMaker these days involves integrating FileMaker with other software services on the Internet (APIs). Examples include ePrescription (Rcopia), Quickbooks, Shopify, Trello, Slack,, US Bank, and the list goes on. Claris Connect aims to help you create workflows that integrate these different services in a faster, easier way than previously possible.

Does it work?
For the simple projects I tried for starters, Claris Connect made it amazingly fast to develop these integrations. Here’s what I did…

Trello to Slack
In about 30 minutes or less, I created a simple workflow in Connect that monitors a Trello board and posts a message to a slack channel when a new card is added to the board. So for the project I chose, we now get a slack announcement to a group channel of each new card. I didn’t have to enter passwords since they were already stored in my computer. This flow was very easy, but of limited practical value since we already get an email when a change is made to a Trello board that we want to monitor.

FileMaker to Mailchimp and Slack
For my second experiment, I tried a workflow that I think I will actually use on an ongoing basis. I use a FileMaker CRM app that we wrote for ourselves for doing lead/prospect management. One of the steps in our prospecting process is to add each new lead to a mailing list in MailChimp. I’ve done this manually for a long time, but now I have a button in our FileMaker app that triggers a Connect workflow. That work flow takes the email address from FileMaker and puts it in my chosen mailing list in Mailchimp. Just for fun, I added a step for it to post this event to a slack channel. Setting this all up was slightly more time consuming than my previous experiment, mostly because I had to pass the data from FileMaker to Connect as a JSON object. I don’t do a lot of that myself, so it took me a couple of tries to get the format correct. Still, I had my data inserting into Mailchimp and posting to Slack in under an hour. Pretty slick!

Competitive Landscape
One of Claris Connect’s larger competitors in this field is a service called Zapier that many are likely familiar with, and might wonder about a comparison between Connect and Zapier.

I discussed this with one of my developers who has created workflows in Zapier and he said that it sounds similarly easy to create in both platforms.

I think an advantage for Claris Connect for us as FileMaker developers is the simple integration with FileMaker Server. In the above example, it made it very easy for my FileMaker script to trigger the workflow in Connect.

Pricing between Connect and Zapier is a little hard to compare as they charge for slightly different things – API requests in the case of Connect and ‘Tasks’ in the case of Zapier. They  also have different limits on the number of ‘flows’ in Connect or ‘zaps’ in Zapier.

Zapier’s pricing makes it easier to dive in and start experimenting with low end pricing opions that start at free. These pricing levels are of limited use in real life as they have relatively low usage limits.

As you start getting into workflows that have some decent volume of API requests, Claris Connect pricing gets very competitive.

Connect – $99 or $249 per month depending on the number of flows and volume of API requests.

UPDATE – Several weeks after we published this article, Claris announced revised pricing for Claris Connect, please click this link for the latest pricing information.

Zapier – $0 to $599 per month, depending on the number of zaps and volume of tasks

For FileMaker developers I think Claris Connect has a clear advantage due to its ease of integration with FileMaker. In the short term, Zapier has an edge on the number of APIs it works with. Over time as Claris integrates with a greater range of APIs, this should even out.

~John Newhoff

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