6 Replies Latest reply on Nov 10, 2011 8:53 AM by njem

    Front end on workstations or server?

    njem

      Title

      Front end on workstations or server?

      Your post

      I'm trying to sort out the best arrangement for speed of response of my db to the user. I will have FM Server on our server. The db has a front end with all user interface, scripts, etc., and a back end with tables. The back end will be on the server. I can either have one copy of the front end on the server and all workstations run that, or I can have a copy of the front end on each workstation and the external data source looks for the backend file on the server hosted by FM server (I guess that would be an fmnet:/etc. path). This is all on local lan. There are only 8 users so it's not a big deal to update the front end file on each system when needed. The workstations and server are all somewhat older, middle power systems. MS Server 2003. It gernerally doesn't host other software, just acts as a file server.

      I guess this depends on how FM does things under the hood that I don't know. When a workstation opens a front end file hosted on the server (opens it as remote fmnet:/..) I assume then the server has to do all/most of the work for that front end for each user and the workstation is acting kind of as a thin client just seeing the results? Or am I wrong in that and even in this case the workstation does a lot of work? But then maybe it happens slower because the workstation is working across the network whereas if the server does it all for everyone it all happen internally in the server?

      The other situation each workstation runs its own copy of the front end and just has external data in the backend accessed as fmnet:/...

      Likewise how the server is set up might make a difference. If the front end is only on the server and accessed as fmnet:/..., it could in turn have "external" data from the back end accessed as fment:/... even though the back end is also on the server, or it could have a direct path to the back end file as C:\data\backend.fp7. Or maybe that wouldn't work at all because as soon as a second user connects it would complain that C:\data\backend.fp7 is already in use?

      Thanks for helping my getting up to speed on this, and please indicate if your answers are just personal experience and general practice, or if it's actually known how FM handles these various scenarios under the hood.

      Thanks, Tom

        • 1. Re: Front end on workstations or server?
          philmodjunk

          This would be pretty easy to test by setting it up both ways and comparing results. I'd be enterested in hearing what you found out if you did that.

          • 2. Re: Front end on workstations or server?
            njem

            Yes it would but the db is in development and not complete and of course only sample data so far, and I would need to coordinate a number of users to try using it in typical ways all at the same time. So I was kind of hoping people who know FM under the hood would have some insight.

             

            Thanks, Tom

            • 3. Re: Front end on workstations or server?
              philmodjunk

              The file you'd put on the local machine and the file you'd put on the server could very easily be exactly the same file. Thus, this can be a final test you make during deploymemnt. I wish I could give you a definitive answer but can't, hence my interest in anything you find out.

              FileMaker isn't a "thin client" by any stretch of the imagination. Much of the processing happens client side--regardless of which approach you use, so if I were to guess, I'd predict that you would not see much difference unless you have layouts with large complex graphic objects (not stored in container fields) that won't have to be sent via network to the client machine when you use a local copy of the interface file and even then, the difference might be hard to spot unless you have a WAN (wide area network) or an exceptionally slow LAN setup.

              • 4. Re: Front end on workstations or server?
                njem

                Okay. If much of the work will be done on the client, even if they all run one copy of the file as hosted by the server, then I'll run it that way. Less to maintain.

                I'm curious though. I've seen some demos of dbs hosted on remote servers do big sorts and deliver a long list of records very quickly. That would seem like it would have to happen on the remote host and just deliver the results to the local station. Maybe it is those things that the server does on its side for the clients so not so much data has to move across the net?

                • 5. Re: Front end on workstations or server?
                  philmodjunk

                  That's why I've suggested you try it both ways and see what happens.

                  • 6. Re: Front end on workstations or server?
                    njem

                    I will try this though a good trial needs enough data and it may have to wait till next year. There's an anual cycle to this and at the end of the cycle it has the most data.

                    I assume the FM professionals, the ones who set up sizeable FM server installations or offer cloud services for hire must have some optimization guidelines from FM, some insight as to what arrangements work best for the way FM works. Does FM make any such docs public?