13 Replies Latest reply on Nov 19, 2015 7:37 AM by Mike_Mitchell

    Remote Storage

    DavidJondreau

      I've historically used SuperContainer for file management. I have a client who is resistant to SC and thinks external container storage should be sufficient. Since I'm such a big fan of SC, I haven't really worked with external storage and maybe it would be fine.

       

      A few things that I wondering about...

       

      How does FileMaker reference an externally stored file?

      I experimented by creating a table with a container field using open external storage in a database hosted with FileMaker Server. I added a pdf to the container field called sample.pdf. I then navigated to the storage folder on the server and could view sample.pdf. If I swapped that sample.pdf file out for another with the same name, then FMP stopped recognizing it.

       

      Can users access files directly and edit them?

      I experimented a little by trying to edit sample.pdf directly on the server. When trying to save the file, I received an error saying I didn't have privileges. I'm not sure if that's a quality of the external storage or my sys admin skills.

       

      Anyone else with experience both with external storage and SC have any input?

       

      We're not concerned at this point about encryption.

        • 1. Re: Remote Storage
          keywords

          David, I don't really meet your criteria since I have not used SC, but I know that it is inadvisable, and against FM's own advice, to mess with stored files at an OS level—hence the outcome you describe when you try to trick the system by swapping a stored file for another with an identical name. FM internally stores its own directory to stored container data, and even though the name matches, that string would not.

          As far as editing goes, you would need to set up a process to export the stored file, edit it in its native software and then store it again—in other words manage the unstoring and re-storing via FM. This would be the same whether you choose open or encrypted storage.

          • 2. Re: Remote Storage
            bigtom

            I guess this all depends on why you need external storage. Why?

             

            I had some external storage containers at one point as someone advised it. The only real advantage was allowing to backup without the external data. I moved everything back to internal storage.

             

            If you need to manage the files in some way outside of FM you may be able to do some stuff with PDFs in a web viewer that reference the file path.

            • 3. Re: Remote Storage
              TomDupre

              I also fail to meet your criteria - having used neither SC or external storage. However, I make considerable use of external files and use a webviewer for such purposes - as suggested by bigtom. This was for a solution developed before enhanced container fields were available; I haven't come across any reasons for switching from the webviewer approach.

               

              There aren't any issues with privileges etc. and the files can effectively be edited from within the system - by adding buttons which will open the files in the default (or specified) applications for those file types. I only use this with image files, for which I create thumbnails using the folder import feature. I store paths in a table so changing location is not a problem, I also have an option to map paths in case there are different OS's on the network. The mapping can also be switched to a folder on a website.

               

              This was for quite a specfic application but the point I'm making is that this approach might be worth looking at. While it might have been easier to set up external storage, I suspect it would lack some of the features needed.

              • 4. Re: Remote Storage
                Malcolm

                External storage does a good job.

                 

                You've discovered that, even though the file is accessible to the OS, you can't edit it externally. If you do, filemaker sees the file has changed. Using unencrypted external storage you can copy a file and edit it but you have to put it back in place by pushing it back via the appropriate field in FMP. This is good. If you have referenced a contract and stored it in the database, you don't want someone editing it after the fact.

                 

                External storage really improves backup times for databases that use container fields.

                • 5. Re: Remote Storage
                  Mike_Mitchell

                  We've used SC quite a bit. There are pluses and minuses. As you've noticed, you can manipulate the external assets without munging up the connection to the database with SC; not so with external containers. OTOH, SC is notoriously vulnerable to Java updates. Since it's a Java applet, every time our Desktops group pushes out a Java patch (which they're required to do by security policy), we have issues until 360Works patches SC. Very irritating. For this reason alone, we're moving away from SC.

                   

                  External storage has worked well for us. So long as you're careful about setting up the necessary scripting for users to move the assets into / out of storage through the FileMaker interface, the lack of access to the direct share isn't an issue. (In fact, it's a plus for security purposes; you only have to manage privileges for the database itself and not for the file share.)

                  • 6. Re: Remote Storage
                    wimdecorte

                    Big NO NO:

                     

                    Remote container storage IS NOT a document management feature.  It is strictly there for FMS to manage storage of the data.  That RC data should be treated exactly like a live FM file and SHOULD NOT be touched by anything but FMS itself.

                    • 7. Re: Remote Storage
                      DavidJondreau

                      Very good to know Wim. Thanks!

                      • 8. Re: Remote Storage
                        DavidJondreau

                        I've used SC extensively in several other solutions over the past 5 years and have had very very few problems. And those were around plugins, and not Java in general. We've been lucky.

                         

                        So, you're moving to document versioning being entirely run through FileMaker? That looks like one of my three main options now.

                        • 9. Re: Remote Storage
                          DavidJondreau

                          There will be around 5 GB of files when they're done. Maybe 50 Megs for the file itself. I've also run into trouble with db files that large when it comes to backups, transfers, etc. I hate storing large files in the database itself.

                          • 10. Re: Remote Storage
                            DavidJondreau

                            It sounds like you're replicating the strategy of SuperContainer without SuperContainer. That's an interesting option. I'll play around with that, thanks.

                            • 11. Re: Remote Storage
                              DavidJondreau

                              Sound it sounds like my options are:

                              1) Store externally, use FM to manage file "versioning".

                               

                              2) Push for SuperContainer (normally, I'd just say, this is what we're doing, but there's an actual sys admin and a Project Manager who doesn't know anything about FileMaker both of whom I have to get approval from even though it's costing them in time the same amount to do the research to justify SC than it would just to buy the thing).

                               

                              3) Brew my own SC-like Web Viewer-based system. I'm going to play around with this as I like learning new things!

                               

                              You've all been very helpful. Thanks all!

                              • 12. Re: Remote Storage
                                wimdecorte

                                DavidJondreau wrote:

                                 

                                There will be around 5 GB of files when they're done. Maybe 50 Megs for the file itself. I've also run into trouble with db files that large when it comes to backups, transfers, etc. I hate storing large files in the database itself.

                                 

                                when you use RC storage then backups become very efficient because of the hard-link mechanism that FMS uses.

                                I think you can use both RC to benefit from that and use SC for the document mgmt features.

                                • 13. Re: Remote Storage
                                  Mike_Mitchell

                                  DavidJondreau wrote:

                                   

                                  I've used SC extensively in several other solutions over the past 5 years and have had very very few problems. And those were around plugins, and not Java in general. We've been lucky.

                                   

                                  So, you're moving to document versioning being entirely run through FileMaker? That looks like one of my three main options now.

                                   

                                  We don't do a lot of versioning. It's typically more archival. For versioning, you have to build it. We do have some systems that use a history - related records with different versions of the same asset. But only a few.