6 Replies Latest reply on Aug 20, 2010 11:43 AM by TSGal

    Optimising your solution for patchy 3G coverage

    jonnyt

      Title

      Optimising your solution for patchy 3G coverage

      Post

      Hi there,

      I come from a .net background and have been creating mobile .net apps for sometime.

      My organisation uses filemaker server advanced and when the Filemaker go product came out I was astonished at its ease of use and instant integration with a mobile app. Using the iPad with it makes it a dream to use and much more flexible thn the equivalent .net mobile app but without months of development time.

      Being in the UK, we have good but still patchy 3G network coverage. For my on the road engineers to fully embrace this system, I need to build in methods to deal with patchy 3g connections.

      I therefore have a couple of questions or potentially ideas for future upgrades to filemaker go.

      1) Is there a script step to detect if a 3G connection is availabale?

      2) is there a script step to detect whether its an iPhone or an iPad thats connecting?

      3) Are there any plans to release for Android?

      4) If a 3G connection isnt available I envisage creating a dedicated file that sites on the iPhone/iPads storage then updates the records on the main server once a connection is made available again. Does anyone recommend a high level  step by step best practise to manage this?

      Anyway congratulations to filemaker, Filemaker go now provides a solution to one thing that Filemaker was seriousuly lacking before. Many more business will now consider this is a enterprise class application for the mobile workforce.

        • 1. Re: Optimising your solution for patchy 3G coverage
          jonnyt

          another question I forgot to ask is how does filemaker go handle a database transaction if a connection is lost mid transaction?

          Does it conform and follow the principles of an ACID transaction?

          • 2. Re: Optimising your solution for patchy 3G coverage
            TSGal

            jonnyt:

            Thank you for your post.

            There is no script step to check for a 3G connection.

            Although not a script step, there is a calculation function, Get (ApplicationVersion), that returns if the device is an iPhone or an iPad.

            For the iPhone, it returns "Go 1.0.2" and for the iPad, it returns "Go_iPad 1.0.2".  For more information, please see Knowledge Base Article #7734 at:

            http://help.filemaker.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/7734

            I don't know if there are any plans to release for Android.  However, I encourage you to enter this suggestions into our Feature Requests web form at:

            http://www.filemaker.com/company/contact/feature_request.html

            These suggestions are read by our Development and Product Management departments who discuss and consider these suggestions for a future release.  I could copy your post and paste it into the web form, but there are additional questions asked that only you can answer.

            FileMaker Go does not have any syncing options.  It currently will work as standalone or as a guest to a FileMaker host.  One possible solution is to download the file to your device, make changes, copy the file back to the machine (via iTunes), and have a script on the host that will import or update records.

            FileMaker Go just inputs data.  The ACID transaction applies to your programming.  That is, you will need to program in checks and balances and commit the record once complete.

            TSGal
            FileMaker, Inc.

            • 3. Re: Optimising your solution for patchy 3G coverage
              jonnyt

              Thanks TSGal.

              When I was referring to an ACID transactions I was referring to in the context of the DBMS when records are committed over a 3G connection. In this instance the ACID transaction refers to the DBMS.

              Lets say for example that, I ran a script to modify a found set of records. Then in the middle of the script the 3G connection is dropped.

              I imagine that the scripts are client side, so based on your comments im also guessing that if the connection is lost mid script, then the script will only have resulted in partial completion.

              Filemaker have made a great product here but it always astonishes me that they always seem to leave out a few things that would make it into a business class product.

              The filemaker website talks about how useful Filemaker go can be for the mobile salesforces, but lets face it, when you are looking for a solid enterprise class product that fulfills the requirements for a solid mobile solution, it doesnt really cut the mustard. (yet)

              The same applies to Filemaker Pro and Server, they are both great products that fulfill a niche and provide a great framework for rapid development and deployment of a solution.

              But the developers seem to leave out some core functionality that you would expect from a competing DBMS. It always seems to take a 3rd p[arty developer to create a solution to the missing functionality, when filemaker could have relatively easily put this into their development schedule before releasing an mature product.

              • 4. Re: Optimising your solution for patchy 3G coverage
                jonnyt

                This is the scenario that I am trying to create a solution for:-

                Filemaker database stores customer information. Customer asks us to inspect an air conditioning unit with a view to repair or replace.

                Mobile work force of engineers go and inspect air conditioning units. They note down the problems the machine is experienciong, how much the replacement parts costs and how much labour is required to fix the machine to a working and safe standard.

                We had hoped to use Filemaker go so that the engineers could directly compile their inspection notes directly onto the main database.

                Due to the fact that these air conditioning units can be in hotels in the countryside, it is often the case that the 3G coverage is patchy.

                ------------------------------------

                OPTION 1)

                To get around the patch 3G coverage I had hoped to create a solution along the following lines:-

                1) Create standalone solution that sits on the iPhone or iPad. A simple script runs at start up to detect a 3G connection or simply a connection to the remote FM server at head office.

                2) If 3G connection is present then connect to the remote FM server

                3) If 3G connection is not present then use a standalone database file

                4) Engineer visits next site. The standalone solution in step one is opened, it checks for 3G connection, if one is present then it sends the record(s) from the other standalone solution to head office. Seeing as no syncing is available either a script step runs to copy the record from the standalone solution to the remote FM server or it simply sends an email.

                5) Due to the fact a 3G connection is now present the engineer can work directly with the remote FM server.

                OPTION 2)

                1) create standalone solution

                2) standalone solution grabs a list of addresses for units that need inspecting.

                3) engineer compiles their findings onto each record.

                4) engineer presses a button to say complete.

                5) FM Go sends an email containing a csv or xml or whatever file the record data to the Remote server

                6) user at headoffice imports the emails attached csv, xml file

                ------------------

                Your comments on whether either of the above would work would be much appreciated!

                • 5. Re: Optimising your solution for patchy 3G coverage
                  jonnyt

                  I think the core questions now are:-

                  1) Can Filemaker Go copy/get records between a standalone file and one hosted on a server

                  2) can filemaker go send a csv, fm, or xml file as an attachment in an email.

                  3) is there a script step pr workaround to check for a connection to the remote FM Server

                  • 6. Re: Optimising your solution for patchy 3G coverage
                    TSGal

                    jonnyt:

                    Thank you for the clarification.

                    The scripts are client side.  Therefore, if your script is interrupted by a drop in the 3g network, then an error message will be returned and the script stops processing at that point.

                    I encourage you to enter your post with the two options into our Feature Requests web form at:

                    http://www.filemaker.com/company/contact/feature_request.html

                    The suggestions entered into this web form are monitored and read by both Development and Product Management departments where they are discussed and considered for a future release.  Although I could easily copy your posts and paste them into the web form, there are some additional questions asked that only you can answer.

                    Back to your core questions,

                    1. FileMaker Go cannot copy/get records between a standalone file and one hosted on a server except by copy and pasting.  Or, copy the standalone file using iTunes to the main computer and run a script to update the data.  Your description sounds like you want a sync option.  True?

                    2. FileMaker Go cannot export or send a CSV, FileMaker Pro or XML file as an attachment in an email.

                    3. FileMaker Pro/Go does not have a script step that checks the network connection.

                    Be sure to also add these suggestions to the web form.

                    TSGal
                    FileMaker, Inc.