I moved the database files (.fmp12) to a networked harddrive in the office so both laptops could access/edit the files, but ran into errors that are documented as a known issue in the Filemaker Knowledge Base.
And what errors would those be?
Is it possible to set up some kind of network access for the two lap tops when they are traveling, but access is needed? WiFi, cellPhone type internet router or such?
Setting up a Host maching that opens the database and others then connect to it via Open Remote or a web browser will be far and above the best way to keep a unified, accurate database going for you.
Synchronizing completely separate database files without loosing any data input by any user of any of your separate copies is not at all a simple operation.
We were getting corruption errors. This page outlines the problem: http://help.filemaker.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/7616/~/os-level-file-sharing-can-lead-to-file-corruption
What I really need is a syncing solution where the database doesn't have to be constantly running on one host machine. We have it working when both laptop A & B are on-site and one is set as host. However, there will be times when laptop A is taken out of a building and laptop B needs the database and vice-versa. Whichever we set as host will inevitably have to leave the building at some point, meaning the second laptop has no access to the database.
Syncing sounds easy until you try it. I have written routines that do sync information but then it gets tough when you try to determine whose alteration of a record is the useful one.
One simplification is to design your tables so that data is not modified but records added. For instance, a note field might be constantly modified by numerous people during the day or days between syncs. Whose changes are valid? Soluition, use a table for the notes and have each person create a new note record for their notes. Then the others only have to import these notes which automaticaly link to the related records.
Try Number Two is to replace all of the data in my personal record on A with my changes on B. This works just fine until you start using multip devices with different times.
So, as you see the first step is to determine who gets to change information and whose change...
I think your best bet is to set up a server on your network that uses Filemaker to host the file--either that or contract with a hosting service to host it for you.
Then you can use either remote connection or a web browser to access the hosted database. No synching required.
To expand on Jack's post while fully agreeing with him, consider this test case any fully functional "synch" system would need to be able to handle:
Say you have a table of contacts in your database. User A and User B have separate copies of the database. User A notes that the street address given has a misspelled street name and updates the record to correct it. User B meets with the contact and learns that the office extension for this contact has been changed and corrects the phone number accordingly.
A fully capable synch system would enable User A to synch their copy back to a central copy of the database and then User B synchs their copy. The resulting updated copy should show both updates and if User B synchs first, identical results should be produced--but managing that is not simple to do. The changes have to be tracked at the field level and that can require quite a bit of work to pull off.
Another work around that works once in a great while is to "check out" selected groups of records to a specific user. If an employee is going to meet with Client A, They set a 'lock' status on all existing records for Client A. Until they return and synch these records back to the master copy of the file, no other users can modify or delete any of these "locked" records--though they might be permitted to add new records or log some kind of change/update request to be processed after the records are unlocked.
If is one database, this company will host it for $10 a month. (I have no experience with them)
FileMaker Server Shared Hosting - Connect with FileMaker open remote, IWP, or FileMaker php for up to 12 users at a time. Optional ESS/ mySQL connectivity. Up to 2GB per file (including backups). Supports FileMaker versions 7, 8, 9. 10, 11 or 12. No setup fee.
Most other hosting sites charge $25 to $100 per month. (but give you more)