which filemaker solution for a poor alternative school
We are a start up alternative school in Asheville, NC (azaleamountain.org), and have the following data problem.
We would like to manage the following types of data:
students (parents, age, grade, address, contact info, and likely other such info)
volunteers (the usual name, address, contact info, skill sets, committe membership)
friends of the school (similar contact info, professional skills)
professional affiliations (still needs to be fleshed out)
donors (usual contact info, donation campaigns they participated in, dollar amounts, donations in kind)
I don't think any of the above data sets will be particularly complicated. Naturally we will want to cross link students with their parents. There will be a one to many link between donors and their donations.At any time a variety of teachers/administrators would like to access the data. Probably never (never say "never") more than 5 concurrent users.
The issue is that we will have a number of volunteers doing data entry. There is one laptop computer that can be passed around, but that has obvious defects in terms of durability of the computer, backing up of the data, coordination of usage among volunteers.
Far better would be to host the data on a web server. We could either use FileMake Pro advanced and make runtime applications that access a remote datastore (probably MySQL with our existing host). That has issues with keeping all the installations current. And I would have to brush up on my SQL skills. And it might be easy or tricky to get the FMP front end to login to a secured MySQL. I wonder. One plus would be we could use MySQL on our existing hosting provider and avoid paying a monthly charge for an FMP host provider.
Perhaps the better solution is using FileMaker Server advanced (using one of the professional hosting providers). That way our school would have to purchase only one copy of FileMaker Pro advanced (for development). Data security would be fully there. Accessibility by the users would be easy (they on their own computers).
Ten years ago I was very active as a Microsoft Access, and Visual Basic developer in databases. So I have some background, but none in FileMakerPro. Also I have no real experience in PHP nor HTML. I am doing this to support the school (no charge) and likely wonlt do anything else with FMP except for school related projects, so I am not intending to become a professonal developer, just to learn the skills to get the job done.
So--- the questions:
Is my thinking on the right track? Can you see any gotchas??
Am I correct in thinking I can prototype a web-based application fairly quickly in FMP and host it on a FMP Server? Slick appearance is not important, making frequent minor form/report changes is likely.