"and then saving the Database file on the "share". Is this true? Meaning, under this scenario, we do not need a dedicated machine with the database open all the time, but rather, anyone can open and close it as need be. If so, how many users can have it open simultaneously?"
This is a recipe for disaster with a filemaker system. You risk corrupting the database file when two users go to the shared folder and try to open it directly.
Shared filemaker databases should always be hosted with either filemaker Pro or filemaker server.
Hosting the file with filemaker is cheaper but you give up security and functionality.
With filemaker Pro as host you are limited to 9 guests via filemaker client connections or 5 simultaneous connections via instant web publishing. If a user connects to your database and then experiences a crash, there is a higher risk with Pro that the crash could damage your file. You have slower performance and you can't easily schedule automated backups or other system maintenance scripts.
Thanks for the quick response Phil.
But I'm not sure what you mean by filemaker vs filemaker pro. I do have FM 11 and the cheapest version is Pro. Did you mean to make a distinction between Pro and Pro advanced? or where you thinking of earlier versions of FM?
In this context filemaker Pro and Filemaker pro Advanced have the same capabilities. In my previous post, every reference to filemaker that doesn't include the term "server" refers to filemaker Pro and could just as easily refer to filemaker Pro advanced.
Filemaker Pro Advanced is a developers version with extra features to aid in design and analysis of filemaker database systems as well as for creating stand alone runtime solutions.
Filemaker Server Advanced is a version of server that permits Instant Web Publishing, among other things, and supports connections from a large number of users.
Ok. Then I think the next term that's confusing me now is hosting.
Please forgive the seeming pickiness over semantics, I just want to make absolutely certain I understand because I will be asking my boss to spend money based on this understanding and I want to make sure I know what I'm talking about.
How is hosting different from opening the file in a share drive? Or is it the same thing?
A copy of filemaker Pro or Server should open the file first on the machine where the database base file is located. That's the host. Other users can then launch filemaker Pro and use Open Remote... to find and open the file. These are filemaker clients. If you use web publishing, you'll have clients that conect with a web server.
Does this mean that using the "Open Remote" function provides some benefit over "File -->Open" which is what you would use on a shared drive? Some beefed up record locking capability or some such thing?
Because you are basically telling me that I don't have a way around having to have a dedicated machine with the file always open and I'm not sure if they will go for that in my office. Even if it might be cheaper because people could connect thru their browsers and not require multiple licenses to be purchased.
As I said in my first post, do not, ever, share a filemaker file by directly opening it on a shared drive. This is true whether you open the file by double-clicking it or by selecting it via File | Open.
Open Remote, looks over the network for a filemaker file that is being hosted by either filemaker pro or filemaker server and lists them so you can select a file from the list to open. This is the method specifically built into filemaker for accessing a shared database.
"This is the method specifically built into filemaker for accessing a shared database"
Thank you! It may be quite obvious to you, but you have no idea how critical this statement is for a newbie like me. With phrases like "sharing your information/database with others" being bandied about, it is easy to misinterpret the technical connotation.
So if I got the gist of your initial response. You say, HOST don't SHARE. And, there isn't really much of a mechanical difference using pro or server to host. But server is more robust and offers additional back-end capabilities. (I don't care about number of users beyond about 5)
So, other than installing the software on the host machine, are there any other issues that I need to be aware of configuration or connectivity wise?
For example, I was able to share my database with a coworker on my same floor using IWP but not with another coworker on a different building although we are technically on the same network. As I mentioned before, we can all VPN into our network, so I'm not necessarily concerned about full web access, just access inside our network.
IWP adds a layer of complexity to your setup so you'll need to research the issues. The IP address of your server can't bee seen outside the network, you have to connect to the IP address of your router and set the router up with "port forwarding" to find and connect to your server--just to name one possible issue.
It also results in a much more limited interface due to having to interact with a web browser instead of a copy of filemaker Pro.
One of the strengths of filemaker is your ability to easily "scale up" as your user base or database grows. You can start with a copy of filemaker Pro as the host and need not make any changes to your database design in order to switch to hosting with server as your needs change. You can simply upload your existing set of files and go with them.
Sometimes using server makes sense even for a small number of users:
- Better protection of file integrity
- Automated backups can be scheduled to run as often as every hour without having to close the files
- Better responsiveness when several users all put significant "loads" on the database at the same time.
But I'm not trying to connect from outside the network, just a different building in the University that is supposed to be on the same network. So you think that I should try using Open Remote (thankfully the person that is in a different building does have an FM client) and see if that works?
And BTW. I really appreciate the info on growing the database. This is good to know because I hope we get to that point. The database I'm working on right now has limited use, but I hope to be able to use FM for other functions as I get people used to the idea of "office" databases. I've always been a Mac person, but having jobs with PCs in the past meant using Access. Now that I work in a university, there is a large Mac population so I saw an opportunity to ask my bosses to let me play with FM. I want to learn the program so I can whip up DBs for any short or long term project with the same ease I now use word or excel. But this is my first attempt at creating something where I won't be the main user, so I want to make sure I cover my bases. Most people here think of databases as big cumbersome, "you need a whole IS development department who knows ORACLE" things. And we also have some younger people creating smaller single purpose apps using web based tools but I'm not convinced that those are the solution either. I would really appreciate it if you could give me some pros and cons about using FM vs other options out there. Do you have a link to a good post or article on the subject?
If your user has a copy of filemaker, I'd use that option for connecting simply for the better interface--let alone avoiding the need to troubleshoot IWP connection issues.
Even though he's one the same network, (this is not an area where I'm especially knowledgeable BTW), there may be issues connected to how your network is set up that keeps his computer from "seeing" the server. That building might be on a different "subnet" for example and I've read of users that had to troubleshoot such issues. You might have to consult an IT person at your University who is familiar with your network in order to figure it out.
Thanks for all the answers. I have a meeting next week to show folks what I've come up with and hopefully they'll like it enough to want to talk about using it which will require them to buy at least one if not a few copies of FM.
BTW. I know the app just came out, but do you know anything about accessing the files from an iPad.
Only what I'm reading in the Filemaker GO section of this forum.