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Using Dropbox with Go - Step by step instructions to keep your data "in sync"

Question asked by bac on Dec 7, 2014
Latest reply on Oct 6, 2016 by bac

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Using Dropbox with Go - Step by step instructions to keep your data "in sync"

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INTRO TO USING DROPBOX WITH FILEMAKER GO
IMPORTANT! READ THIS BEFORE PROCEEDING!
 
It is important to note that  Dropbox is not a syncing solution in the traditional senseHowever, using Dropbox with Filemaker Go can allow you to keep your data the same between devices (the end goal of a true syncing solution). In essence what happens in this scenario is you will be creating MULTIPLE COPIES of your file and storing a COPY on each of your devices.  This means that WHENEVER any change is made to your data , regardless of the device (computer**, iPad, iPhone) the file in which the changes were made must be copied and sent to all of your other iOS devices REPLACING the "old" files (obviously NOT the same as syncing them). Since Dropbox itself CANNOT store the files directly in GO this file management must be done manually by you
**The only exception to this is with Filemaker on your computer. If you have set up Dropbox and Filemaker correctly, you will be opening the actual file stored in Dropbox. This means that changes made on an iOS device AND COPIED to Dropbox will be automatically available the next time you OPEN Filemaker on your computer (if Filemaker is already opened on your computer it will not update till you quit and re-open). However, if changes are made to your database with Filemaker on your computer, you MUST first close Filemaker as this alerts Dropbox that a change has been made and then triggers it to upload to Dropbox servers. Then you MUST perform the update procedure outlined here on all your iOS devices using GO.
Obviously all this copying causes there to be a few more hoops to go through to make this work than a fully integrated sync solution (those are available for a premium price). However, I’ve found by carefully following these steps, it does work reliably. 
 
IS THIS METHOD FOR YOU?
POINTS TO CONSIDER
         
  1. Since there is no way to merge changes I don't recommend this for use with databases with multiple users.
  2.      
  3. Again since there is no way to merge changes I don't recommend this if you are not willing to commit to ALWAYS update ALL files as described here EVERY TIME changes are made. (If you do forget and realize that you made changes to two copies you would have to make one the "Master" copy and manually re-enter the new data from the other database and then use the Master to update the others. That's quite a hassle to go through and only works IF you realize that changes were made in two copies)
  4.      
  5. Do you have qualms about deleting files in the manner described here? (Be aware that Dropbox does keep an archive of the last couple of versions of every file so if something does go awry you can probably recover the last version from there) (You could also rename the update files in DropBox and keep the old file until you verify the update. I'll admit I found the renaming in Dropbox seemed to work kind of erratically, plus managing the whole renaming thing, even with a number suffix, was kind of a pain in the neck to me.)
 
BASICS OF USING DROPBOX WITH GO 
While this may seem to be a pretty long complicated process there are really only three basic steps for copying your files regardless of direction. Here they are in no particular order.
         
  1. Close the database in GO. (#1 cause of problems is forgetting to do this!)
  2.      
  3. Delete the old file.
  4.      
  5. Copy the updated file from one place to the other (GO to Dropbox or Dropbox to GO)

 

Unfortunately these basic steps involve a fair amount of tapping on various labeled and unlabeled icons in both GO and Dropbox. I have yet to see any "standard" names or even uses for many of these icons. In order to not have to describe what the unlabeled icons look like in every step of these instructions here are my descriptions and made up names for the them.

         
  1. "Navigation" icon in GO - overlapping squares. Located in the upper left corner.
  2.      
  3. "File Selection" icon in Go - a fairly standard file document icon with a check mark in it  (like a piece of paper with the corner folded down). Located in the upper right corner next to the "Gear" icon
  4.      
  5. "Share" icon both GO and Dropbox - a square with an arrow pointing up. Various locations.

READ THIS BEFORE CONTINUING! 

There are quite a few steps involved in this process and doing them correctly is essential for it to work. I would suggest practicing with a non-essential database, maybe one of Filemaker's Starter Solutions or a duplicate copy of your database, until you are comfortable with all the steps. It may seem like a hassle but it's less of a hassle than losing data due to an error.

STEPS FOR COPYING FILE

 Copying File From Filemaker Go to Dropbox

Deleting the database file from Dropbox
         
  1. Open Dropbox.
  2.      
  3. Navigate to the database that you want to update.
  4.      
  5. Tap on file to select it. I find it best to tap on it even if it is already highlighted just to make sure it is selected AND active (I’ve found instances where it can be highlighted and not be the active file).
  6.      
  7. Tap on “Trashcan” in the upper right corner (iPad) or bottom right corner of the new window that opens (iPhone).
  8.      
  9. Confirm delete in pop-up that appears.

Closing the GO Database that you want to copy

         
  1. Open Filemaker Go.
  2.      
  3. Tap on “Navigation” icon in upper left corner to open the selection pop-up.
  4.      
  5. Tap on “Windows”  in the list.
  6.      
  7. Find the database you want to copy by swiping left or right and close it by tapping on the red “X” in the  upper left corner of the database icon.

Copying the database from Go to Dropbox

         
  1. Go to the “Home” page by tapping the “Navigation” icon in the upper left corner and then tapping on “Home” in the list.
  2.      
  3. Tap on “Device” in the Left sidebar (iPad) or bottom bar (iPhone).
  4.      
  5. Tap on the “File Selection” icon in the upper right corner.
  6.      
  7. Select file you want to copy by tapping on it.
  8.      
  9. Tap on the “Share” icon in the upper left.
  10.      
  11. Tap “Open in Dropbox” (or you can tap the new "Save to Dropbox". Both do the same thing)
  12.      
  13. Navigate to the location that you want to copy the file to in Dropbox.
  14.      
  15. Tap on “Save”

 

Copying from Dropbox to Filemaker GO
 
Closing the GO Database that you want to copy
         
  1. Open Filemaker GO.
  2.      
  3. Tap on “Navigation” icon in upper left corner to open the selection pop-up.
  4.      
  5. Tap on “Windows”  in the list.
  6.      
  7. Find the database you want to update by swiping left or right and close it by tapping on the red “X” in the  upper left corner of the database icon.

Deleting database from GO

         
  1. If the “Home” page does not automatically open navigate to it by tapping the “Navigation” icon and tapping on “Home” in the list.
  2.      
  3. Tap on “Device” in the Left sidebar (iPad) or bottom bar (iPhone).
  4.      
  5. Tap on the “File Selection” icon in the upper right corner.
  6.      
  7. Select file you want to update by tapping on it.
  8.      
  9. Tap on the “Trashcan” in the upper left corner. Confirm delete in pop-up.
  10.      
  11. Tap on “Done” in upper Right corner.

Copying the database file from Dropbox to GO

         
  1. Open Dropbox and navigate to file.
  2.      
  3. Tap on file you want to copy to Go to select it. I find it best to tap on it even if it is already highlighted just to make sure it is selected AND active. (I’ve found instances where it can be highlighted and not be the active file)
  4.      
  5. Tap on “Share” icon above the file view area in the upper right corner (iPad) or the bottom left corner of the new window that opens (iPhone)
  6.      
  7. Tap on “Open In…”. Wait while file “Exports”
  8.      
  9. Tap on “Open in Filemaker Go” in the Pop-up menu that opens.
  10.      
  11. File exports and “Home” window in Go opens. Tap on file to open.

Just to be safe I have made it a habit to open the new database and check at least one of the changes made just to make sure everything worked (whenever it has not worked for me it has always been because of user error, usually forgetting to close the database in GO).

I hope this helps. Any problems just post here.
Bruce

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