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FMSA IWP Module Crashes Reliably WIth Large Number of User

Question asked by JoyDenton on Mar 5, 2011


FMSA IWP Module Crashes Reliably WIth Large Number of User


FileMaker Server


10 and 11

Operating system version

Mac OS X 10.6.6

Description of the issue

We have some server issues that need to be rectified before we are willing to continue using FileMaker Server and/or FileMaker client.

The instant web publishing engine has not worked reliably for us during our study group registration each academic term the past five years. Our program has grown but FileMaker has not grown with it. Please let me explain. 

When I started working for the SLC in the fall of 2000 we had 748 student members in 88 groups. We used FileMaker to manage our groups. In 2000 (nearly 11 years ago) the software provided a method for students to register for the groups and the study group leaders to manage their groups. This fall 2010 we had 290 groups with 3400 members.

We have loyally upgraded FileMaker to the latest version with each new version iteration. We are using FileMaker Server Advanced version 10 because FMSA 11 crashed badly during the fall registration term. My manager insisted that we go back to FMSA 10 and so we are using FMSA until this issue is resolved.

From the beginning we have used Instant Web Publishing for the student registration and study group leader management. In 2000 this system worked well. After FileMaker changed the server and eliminated CDMA this new system has failed every term - approximately 2004 until now. By failure I mean that FileMaker has a built-in limit of 100 concurrent web connections. When you have nearly 400 students attempting to register at the same time you can imagine the bottleneck. The FileMaker Server web component crashes and at times even Apache crashes so that the computer needs to be restarted. We have attempted to manage this issue by spreading out the registration period by courses. It has helped only slightly.

We have been looking for a possible alternative to the system we are currently using. We were led to believe that FileMaker Server and PHP offered a possible solution. However after spending $25,000 the past two years to have a developer write the code, we have been unable to use that solution. It (FileMaker Server web publishing engine) crashes when more than 50 students attempt to register. I am attaching a PDF which may better illustrate how our program has progressed through the years as well as our struggles to administer the study groups using FileMaker.

I truly would appreciate any technical help that might possibly improve our user experience on the web. We will gladly spend the money to renew our maintenance contract if we can be shown how to eliminate the crashing during our heaviest usage.

Steps to reproduce the problem

See the above.

Expected result

Students would be able to register to be a member of a study group or sign up for a waitlist slot and/or a leader could submit a leader application.

Actual result

Leaders are able to complete their applications most times without too much trouble since they typically do this when the study group registration and/or waitlisting has been completed.

Potential study group members typically must endure hours of attempting to connect to our IWP system due to the 100 simultaneous web connections. We typically have hundreds of students hoping to register for our extremely successful study group.

Exact text of any error message(s) that appear

Users most often will see the following messages:

Too many connections to web server

Configuration information

FileMaker Server Advanced 10 and 11 (used version 11 but FMSA 11 crashed so much we were forced to switch back to 10 which still had crashes but were less frequent. We are running two Power PC G5 (tower) Mac OS X 10.5.8. [FMSA 11 is installed on two Intel Mac HW - a Mac mini server and a mac pro each running Mac OS X 10.6.6.]


Once registration is over the servers are fairly reliable. It's the initial crunch of hundreds of students attempting to register. It essentially ends up being an unintentional DOS. So basically the workaround would be to register on a different platform with a different database like mySQL.