1 2 Previous Next 29 Replies Latest reply on Sep 23, 2015 4:47 PM by KenNewell

    A method of sharing FM database for one user

    tunesmith

      Hi, I've trying to research and learn about various sync solutions, and here's what I'm thinking of doing, using Filemaker Pro 13.  Can anyone look this over and tell me if it looks like a good way to do it, if there are any gotchas, and if there are easier ways to do it?

       

      1. I have a 5-gig filemaker database full of sound recordings.  (The use case is I am a songwriter and these are rehearsal recordings and partial song ideas.)  I want to be able to process these the way I used to with Bento, where I could listen either and make notes from the computer or from my mobile device.

       

      2. Filemaker Server seems exorbitant and complex to me, given that I am the only user of my database.  (I don't have need to share with others.)

       

      3. Copying back and forth between system and iOS seems unreasonable due to the many repetitive steps and the size of the database.  It would be error-prone.

       

      4. I have mobile devices, a laptop, and a headless server (Mac Pro) that is always on in my office.

       

      The plan:

       

      1) Thus far, I've only run Filemaker on my laptop from a local folder.  I would move the database to Dropbox so my headless server has access to it as well.  When I'm working on the laptop, I'd just continue to use it normally, with the database located in my Dropbox folder.  When I'm done, I'd save/quit and wait for Dropbox to finish uploading changes.  This doesn't seem dangerous since I am not sharing the dropbox folder, and I wouldn't open the database from anywhere else before it finishes uploading.  (I am used to working this way since it is also how I use Logic Pro when collaborating with other musicians via dropbox).

       

      2) When I want to use it remotely, I'd start up Filemaker on the headless Mac Pro (since we get two exclusive non-simultaneous activations), and I'd turn on Filemaker Network Sharing.

       

      3) I'll buy Yosemite Server ($20) and set up a VPN.  There's plenty of documentation out there on how to do this.

       

      4) While out and about, I'd be on the VPN, and whether I'm on Wifi or cellular, it seems I should be able to access the database through FM Go, and listen to my songs and dictate audio notes.

       

      5) When done, I'd just quit filemaker on the headless server so I could open it up on my laptop again.

       

      I wish FM Go's audio player were better, so you could pause and interact with the record and un-pause.  As it is you have to click "Done".  But it seems like it could otherwise work.

       

      How does this sound?  Is there an easier way?  Using a VPN seems more secure than actually punching a hole in my firewall for filemaker-specific ports.  I haven't looked into permanently hosting my database somewhere on a hosting service because it seems like it would be expensive and slow given the size of my database, but I'm willing to hear if I'm wrong.

        • 1. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
          Mike_Mitchell

          Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to use your database through Dropbox (or any other file sharing service, for that matter). Not if you like your data, anyway. Here's why:

           

          Whenever you open a database, the local client becomes the host of that database. It puts a hard file lock on the database, in essence becoming a little mini-server. This is to facilitate peer-to-peer sharing. Should there be any kind of interruption of network or power on that connection, especially while you're in the process of saving a transaction, the danger of corrupting your database is extremely high.

           

          Use a hosting service. They're not expensive (most range between $20 and 40 a month), they offer backup of your data, full FileMaker Server capabilities, and secure access from pretty much anywhere you have a network connection. It won't be any slower than sharing over Dropbox, first of all because you're still using the same Internet (same network latency), and the hosting service will have their servers tuned for hosting FileMaker databases. Not to mention FileMaker Server itself is optimized for doing this job in a way a file sharing server isn't.

           

          Please don't put yourself in the position of losing your data. You put too many hours into recording for that.

           

          Mike

          • 2. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
            tunesmith

            Hi Mike and others, just wanted to clarify one thing.  Dropbox isn't a file sharing service in the sense of having an open network connection.  If you start up Filemaker Pro and open up a database in a dropbox folder, it doesn't use a network connection.  The database is right there on your local filesystem and you can continue working on it even if the network connection goes offline since it's just a local folder.  Syncing is a process where Dropbox notices a change in the folder and the publishes the change (or the entire file) up to the cloud, and then other Dropbox clients receive the changes and write them to their local folders.  So each client has their own local copy, and Dropbox keeps them in sync - you can even turn off (pause) the synchronization process while the application is active, which I regularly do when using Logic Pro.


            The only way weird corruption problems would happen is if the same file is being edited at the same time by something else, which I can prevent from happening since I'd have the only two computers that would be opening the database.  Plus, Dropbox gives you full backup/snapshot history.

             

            Given that, does that change your views at all?  I've looked at some hosting packages and am having a hard time stomaching the idea of > $50 / month, which seems to be what I'd be at given that my database is right at (and soon to be over) 5 gigs, especially since this is very much a non-commercial vocation of mine.

            • 3. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
              Mike_Mitchell

              So you're planning on downloading a 5 gig database on a regular basis, then uploading it when you're done editing? Gots lots of spare time, I guess.

               

              And how does FileMaker know it's not supposed to open the file directly? This is not a use case FileMaker is designed for. What stops it from trying to do its normal functionality? (Perhaps someone else can chime in.)

               

              No, it doesn't change my views. At all. The chances of the file being damaged during this process is still too high. Server is designed for this purpose. Let it do its job.

              • 4. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                Mike_Mitchell

                If you really want to use Dropbox, you might benefit from looking at John Sindelar's demo here:

                 

                     Example file: Dropbox to FileMaker

                • 5. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                  Mike_Mitchell

                  And here's a previous thread discussing some of the issues:

                   

                       Why can't FM GO open a file from the dropbox app on an iPhone?

                  • 6. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                    RickWhitelaw

                    a developer subscription available at File!ker Community costs $99.00 per year and includes a user-limited full version of FMS. Not only does this sound perfect for your needs but you'll also learn a lot of stuff in the bargain.

                    • 7. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                      Mike_Mitchell

                      Yes, that would work too. Just need to set up port forwarding on the router he’s using.

                      • 8. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                        tunesmith

                        I think I see what needs clarifying - I am not saying I will use Dropbox on the iPhone, or with FM Go.  I'm also not saying I will download/upload a 5-gig file.  And I didn't say anything about Filemaker knowing it's not supposed to open the file directly - Filemaker (from OS X) *would* open the file directly, which is normal usage for desktop/laptop Filemaker.  FM Go would open it via Network Sharing, which is also normal usage; it's just that I'd be doing it via VPN.  But the iPhone / FM Go wouldn't have anything to do with Dropbox at all.

                         

                        I'm aware of how people try to use FM Go with Dropbox and I agree that's a non-ideal workflow, but that's not at all what I'm considering.

                         

                        Here's a variant where I don't use Dropbox at all:

                         

                        1) I have Filemaker database on my Mac Pro, which is hard-wired to my router.

                        2) I also have Filemaker installed on my laptop, and I use Open Remote... although maybe this wouldn't work if I can't have two copies of Filemaker running simultaneously...

                        3) I still have the VPN so I can use Filemaker Network Sharing to access it via FM Go.

                        • 9. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                          tunesmith

                          Here's a thread I recently found which gives good information on exactly what the risks are in using Dropbox with Filemaker on desktop/laptop computers:

                           

                          storing and using master files on Dropbox — is it okay? (NOT about FMGo!)

                          • 10. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                            schamblee

                            You can end up with several copies of your database and all with incomplete data.  Dropbox does not do a true sync of your file it copies a new copy to the cloud then over writes the current file.  If two device access the file at the same time you will get a second copy do the file in dropbox. Dropbox will add conflicted copy to the title of the file, so you will end up with three copies of your file and each can have different data.  This is very likely to happen because of the time it takes for 5 gb database to upload to dropbox. 

                             

                            FM can host the database then it can be accessed from your notebook and from your ios device.  You will need FM on the hosting machine and the client machine then have FMGo on your ios device. 

                             

                            Dropbox is good for backups but be aware that the file needs to be fully synced before you attempt to open the file on another device.

                            • 11. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                              Mike_Mitchell

                              I'm not sure what you mean by "Network Sharing". Are you talking about leaving the database open on your Mac Pro, and then logging in as a guest from Go? If so, then you're talking about using peer-to-peer sharing (VPN or not), which is better than using a network share, but not much. You still have backup issues (you have to shut the file down, disconnecting all clients, to get a safe copy), and you still have to make sure the host (the Mac Pro, in this example) has a solid power supply (e.g., a UPS) to ensure a power interruption doesn't take the database down unexpectedly.

                               

                              So I'm not sure where Dropbox fits into this picture at all now. Are you just loading the database up to Dropbox so you can copy it over to the laptop? Your original post indicated you wanted to use "network sharing" to open the database from Dropbox on your headless server, which is why I said you shouldn't do that. Now, I don't see the headless server in your configuration at all.

                               

                              As for having two copies of Pro running on different machines, yes, you can, as long as they don't use the same license key. Otherwise, you'll get a license conflict and the second one on will quit automatically.

                               

                              Finally, the VPN doesn't really solve any over your other problems. It just increases your security. You still have the network communication issues, unless you're talking about using a Citrix-style setup where you run FileMaker on the server and just screen share into the server.

                               

                              I think we need a clearer picture of exactly what you're wanting to do here, because the water is getting very muddy.

                              • 12. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                                Mike_Mitchell

                                I don't think that thread "exactly" lays out the risks at all. You're playing with fire here to avoid spending $40 a month, and you're going to get burned.

                                 

                                You asked for opinions. That's mine.

                                • 13. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                                  tunesmith

                                  schamblee wrote:

                                   

                                  Dropbox does not do a true sync of your file it copies a new copy to the cloud then over writes the current file.  If two device access the file at the same time you will get a second copy do the file in dropbox. Dropbox will add conflicted copy to the title of the file, so you will end up with three copies of your file and each can have different data.  This is very likely to happen because of the time it takes for 5 gb database to upload to dropbox. 

                                   

                                  Thanks, that is a good point.  Dropbox is less attractive if I would have to wait for the full 5-gb sync each time I use it.  Although LAN-sync would still be pretty speedy I'd imagine.

                                  • 14. Re: A method of sharing FM database for one user
                                    tunesmith

                                    time_saver wrote:

                                     

                                    a developer subscription available at File!ker Community costs $99.00 per year and includes a user-limited full version of FMS. Not only does this sound perfect for your needs but you'll also learn a lot of stuff in the bargain.

                                    Thanks, this is an interesting idea.  I could probably justify that, I'll do some more research on this option.

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