1. the host machine (Vista) doesn't appear to be "broadcasting" the files that are open (Main Menu.fp7) to the other machines, both of which have Bonjour installed. However, these two machines can see hosted files on my laptop when I bring this to the client's office.
Check the firewall settings on your host machine it may be blocking access. As a quick test, turn off the firewall and see if you can now "see" the host machine from the client machines. If that fixes it, check your documentation to open the proper ports in your firewall.
2. the "Main Menu.fp7"does open remotely from my laptop. However, the other databases that Main Menu.fp7 is supposed to open are not available to the client machines. I have tried some workarounds here including having "Main Menu.fp7" open (hidden) all the necessary databases. This works except that each file has to then be accessed by going through the "open remote" routine on a client machine -- annoying.
I've worked with a lot of "one file, one table" filemaker DBs that are hosted from a regular copy of filemaker pro. Building a script that opens all the files on the host machine as "hidden" files is the best approach I've found. You only need to open all the files this way on the host computer. The client machines should be able to automatically open each file when it is first referenced and it should not have to present the user with any kind of dialog when it does so.
I have also tried adding the network file source paths to these files in the "External Databases" dialog so that each client machine can find the file. This works except that the file is then opened as a "shared" file, again through an annoying dialog and with the limitations of this approach.
I don't follow what the problem here is. You shouldn't see any dialogs when the file is able to successfully find the file and open it. Any way you link to this file, it will be a "shared" file by definition, but I'm unaware of any limitations for the user to that approach compared to merging the tables into a single file. Perhaps you could describe the "annoying dialog" and the limitations that concern you?
Merging the files is a big, but not insurmountable task. If you want to know more about that approach, this thread: Do I have to use/pay for FMPro Migrator in order to merge my 4 datafiles into 1?
Thanks for your help PhilModJunk. I'll let you know if I uncover anything else of interest while trying to fix this. I looked at FMPro Migrator & will go there if I can't get things working more smoothly.
I've never used that product, I used the process of manually merging files to reacquaint myself with filemaker after a long absence. The thread includes an outline that describes a recommended sequence for manually merging files.