10 Replies Latest reply on Aug 4, 2012 12:03 PM by disabled_JackRodgers

    How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?

    TommyOddo

      Title

      How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?

      Post

      For example, an iPad user adds data (e.g., inventory), via his iPad to an FMGo app that I created and sold for commercial use (i.e., for multiple unrelated users). He does not own FMPro— nor (ideally) a Mac or PC. He is not connected to an FMPro server.

      Several months later, I issue an FMGo app update that includes bug fixes and new features. How does HE (easily) install the update without losing his data? In other words, is it possible to make the update process (almost) as easy and painless for our users, as it is for them to update any data-driven, iOS app purchased through iTunes?

        • 1. Re: How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?
          user14040

          I dont think that can be done, if your clients don't have FM. I am looking into a company that created RefreshFM to make updates to my solutions but my clients will need to have FM on their computer. 

          • 2. Re: How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?
            TommyOddo

            I had a feeling this would be the case. Until/unless Apple & FileMaker allow delivery of FMGo apps via iTunes, perhaps we'll have to use a FileMaker runtime (via FM Pro Advanced). Otherwise, RefreshFM seems like a nice idea but the licensing is a little steep for smaller quantities... which I suppose brings us right back to FMServer Advanced... by FileMaker's design.

            Thanks Larry!

            • 3. Re: How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?

              Hmm, even if Apple permitted the distribution of Filemaker files (not apps) via iTunes, how would your customer update his data?

              You can already install a new Filemaker File onto any Go device using iTunes with the choice to overwrite or use a numbered file. I think what you mean is the App Store, not just iTunes. Actually the terminology is kinda confusing isn't it.

              With your Go device conected to your computer via a USB cable, open iTunes, click on the device name in the left hand column, click on APP in the menu bar and scroll down to where you will see Filemaker Go as a choice. Click on that and you can transfer files in either direction with the option to save as or to overwrite.

              BUT, what you can't do is transfer your data using Go from one file on a Go device to another file on a Go device without using Pro. 

              Note that your client can download for free and use for 30 days a copy of Filemaker Pro.

              • 4. Re: How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?

                ...Oh, and since you are selling...why aren't you using Advanced and creating a Runtime...?

                • 5. Re: How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?
                  TommyOddo

                  Hi Jack, thanks for replying.

                  Basically, I'm trying to build/sell an iOS app using FMPro Advanced and FMGo... which I suppose, as you pointed out, may not be feasilble (or possible), because these FMP/FMGo files are in fact FILES, and not APPS. Note: I referred to them as "apps" because FileMaker currently calls them "custom business apps" on their home page.

                  On the other hand, as you know, we can in fact add/build (or enable) features in these iOS optimized files. For example, version 2 might include the ability to use a bluetooth bar code scanner (whereas version 1 did not)— and, some customers may be willing to pay for the upgrade... but NOT if it means they will lose their data, or will have to do much more than click on an "upgrade" button, from within the app store (thanks for the correction by the way) on their iOS device.

                  So, I guess I'm considering the feasibility of importing/exporting a file's data... and whether or not this can be accomplished easily and cost-efficiently for my end users. Are you suggesting that creating a Runtime would be the next best thing (or the only/best way to go at this time)?

                  • 6. Re: How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?
                    philmodjunk

                    Just brainstorming here...

                    What if there was a hosted Filemaker Pro DB out there on the web hosted by the publisher of the FM GO solution such that when an update is needed, the user goes to a location with a good connection to the internet, clicks a button in the solution and a script connects to the hosted file and imports the data into it. (I think this can be done if the solution file on the Go device contains table occurrences of the external tables from the hosted file.) The records would include some kind of ID that "marks all of them as being owned by the user who just uploaded. The user then installs the new copy of the solution on their iOS device and performs yet another script that connects to the hosted DB and imports the data back into the newly updated copy of the solution.

                    On paper, it seems like that might work, but I can also imagine a fairly good size list of potential issues that would need to be carefully tested to get it to work, IF it will work at all...

                    • 7. Re: How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?
                      TommyOddo

                      Thanks PhilModJunk.

                      I also thought something like your idea could be handled via a runtime, but unless I'm mistaken, runtime apps "cannot be shared over a network". So, it seems that running an FM server is the only possible way to go. But the initial investment ($1,000 for a license) seems a little pricey... especially considering that the "business apps" I'm referring to would be fairly inexpensive, and as you point out, that's IF all of this could work.

                      I'm a little disappointed, but not surprised-- I thought FMP/FMGo could have been a great way to bring a product to the iPhone/iPad market in a fairly short period of time. But I suppose I'm asking it to be something Apple will never let it become. Or perhaps my logic is flawed.

                      • 8. Re: How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?
                        philmodjunk

                        A runtime could be used as an updater, but not as a hosted database file. The users would have to download the runtime to their computer, download the old FM Go Solution to the computer. Run the updater and then use itunes to copy the updated runtime file (now with the data from the old copy imported) back to their iOS device.

                        There are companies that will use their copy of Filemaker Server to host your file for a monthly fee so that may also be an option.

                        Also, a copy of FileMaker Pro--which is much less expensive than Server, could be used to host such an "updater"--provided that you don't have large numbers of users all trying to update at the same time.

                        • 9. Re: How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?

                          Regarding the updating of data, I am working on a 'synchronization' technique (also available from others as an expensive, complicated file) that is working just fine.

                          The first problem I had was discovering how easy it is to lock up Filemaker by trying to sync files with their selves during development. Eventually I have filtered out the chaff and am left with the essence of the solution.

                          The problem is, according to some folks, that you can't sync your iPhone Go with your iPad Go or your Filemaker Pro with your Go, etc. But you can if you do it correctly.

                          I'm currently touching up the rules and offer myself overwriting, new and am considering trying to sort out the problem of determing whose changes are the ones to use if you have 15 users sharing the same data file. There is no sane way around that if you deal with swapping data in a field based on who's on first, second and third.

                          • 10. Re: How Does One Provide FMGo App Updates to Customers?

                            Recent Discover of Unlimited Value, er, Unknown Value:

                            Filemaker Go 12 will save to its directory a Filemaker File stored in a container.

                            Here's what I did:

                            Created a script in Pro 12 that inserts a Filemaker 12 file in the container. The new addition to the insert command let's me restrict the files shown to .fmp12, fantastic!

                            Then I wrote a script to save that file to the DESKTOP, important since Filemaker Go 12 only has its own desktop folder available to us.

                            Two Problems:

                            1. Saving to disk will OVERWRITE any existing file.
                            2. If the file is open, Filemaker will not save the file to disk so you need to trap for this.

                            I'm still working out any bugs or disasters in my script but eventually I will ship a demo file or post it on my website.

                            What this means is that ONE update file containing one or many Filemaker files can be shipped to whomever and scripted to install the new files OVERWRITING any existing files. This is just step one of course...