4 Replies Latest reply on Sep 27, 2010 6:58 PM by BillReger

    Syncing between two FM7 files?



      Syncing between two FM7 files?


      I've been using Filemaker since starting with 3.0 back in '95.  In the  late 90's, I developed a very basic invoicing system for my brother's  small construction business.  It worked quite well and I upgraded him to  FM 7.0 in 2005.  While I'd love to upgrade him now, he cannot  financially do it.

      Now the question.  He would like to get a basic laptop or even netbook  to use on estimates.  What would be the best way to sync records between  the two files on separate computers? 

      The tedious way would be to mark new files on the laptop and export them  to a new file.  Then import that file's records into the desktop main  file.  Finally copy the desktop's file over to the laptop, overwriting  the original file.  While this isn't too bad, my brother is far from  computer savvy and I'd certainly be worried that he screws up the main  file somehow.  Just wondering if there is an easier way that I have not  found.

      BTW, at this time he will not have internet access on the road so I cannot have him connect remotely to the desktop.

      I did a quick search of the forums and could not find any help, so I apologize if this has been discussed before and I simply missed the thread.

      Thanks ahead of time for any suggestions.

        • 1. Re: Syncing between two FM7 files?

          Synching files can be a real headache depending on how many different users may be modifying data and on which copy of the file.

          If your brother is the only user of the file, you can use a simple approach. Keep the active file on the laptop at all times. When in the office, connect it to the LAN and link to it via remote access from the desktop machine or just always use it on the laptop. If he doesn't have a LAN, it's possible to use a "crossover" wired ethernet cable to directly link two computers without any hub or switch to make a "mini-LAN" for sharing the file via remote access.

          If you have a user or users in the office that may be updating data while another user is updating data on the laptop, synching gets a lot more complicated.

          Is it possible the laptop user will modify existing records or will they just create new records?

          Is it possible that a user in the office might update a record and then the lap top user might update the same record in a different way? (Then how do you decide which copy of the record to keep when you synch?)

          Once you analyze how the two copies of the same file might be used, you can devise a synch method which can be scripted, but which could become very complex or be fairly simple--depending on how you need it to work for you.

          • 2. Re: Syncing between two FM7 files?

            Thanks for the response.

            The problems you point out are certainly a concern.  He will mainly be creating new records but there is a chance that he might modify an existing.  My mom helps out in the office and creates/modifies the majority of the records. 

            • 3. Re: Syncing between two FM7 files?

              That means any given record may have 6 states: Unmodified since last Synch, Modified at home office, Modified on laptop, Modified at home office and on laptop; deleted on home machine; deleted on laptop.

              You can identify the state for any given record by giving it a date field that auto-enters the modification date and by also creating a synch log that adds a new record recording the date every time you synch the records.

              You can import the records from the laptop in to an auxiliary table that is related by the same field as the PrimaryKey field (should be an auto-entered serial number) in the main table. You can then loop through the records of this table comparing modification dates in the two tables and that of the synch log to determine which table holds the record that should be retained. In cases where a record was deleted or modified by both users, it should display both record versions ( or the one existing version ) so that the person performing the synch can decide which copy to keep or even to merge the changes to combine the edits of both users.

              Doable, but not simple. Once the synch process is complete, you can use Save a Copy as to save a copy of the newly synched file to whichever computer does not have this updated copy all as part of the same scripted process.

              (Note one possible work around used to simplify this process is for the traveling user to review the records on the Home Office system and "mark" each record they might need to edit while traveling. The system would then prohibit any edits to these records on the home system until the traveling user returns and releases them.)

              • 4. Re: Syncing between two FM7 files?

                Thanks for all the help.  Its pretty much as I thought.  I was going to play around with auto enter modification and creation dates and create scripts to sort them easier for export.  I'm probably going to advise him to not modify existing records on the road and if he does, to manually make the changes back at the office.  For him, it might be the best advice.

                Thanks again for the advice.  It really is very appreciated!