6 Replies Latest reply on Feb 3, 2016 3:05 PM by DavidJondreau

    Switching from DB to FM Pro Opinions




      I need some FM Pro advice/opinions!  It's been 10 years since I've used FM - loved it! 

      Now, at my current job we have a database that was started EIGHT years ago and is still not complete so we are looking at other options. It is hosted web application built with PHP, javascript, and SQL (database).


      We use it keep track of client records.  We are a non-profit that works with 500 people with disabilities, we provide vocational training and employment services.  Here are some things we keep track of and what our DB does:

      • Client personal info
      • Demographic, Medical, Guardian, Emergency Info
      • Funding sources (who is paying for that client's services so we can bill for it at the end of the month).  Some clients have multiple funding sources
      • Employer/Volunteer Site info (who that client works for or volunteers for).  Some clients have multiple employers.
      • Staff Info (each staff is assigned to 10-20 clients; each manager has 6-12 staff)
      • Files (upload PDF copies of resumes, funding info, applications, etc)
      • Daily Case notes - much like an attorney might make, we have to record time spent w each client, by whom and why
      • Month End:  One report to calculate all hours staff and clients work (for each client), wages, daily notes and totals of all in summary.


      Yes, this is a huge beast and hopefully that is enough in a nutshell to give you all the gist of it. 

      Again, I haven't used FM in a long time - but I remember it being amazing  


      In your opinion, would it work for our needs?


      THANK YOU!!!

        • 1. Re: Switching from DB to FM Pro Opinions

          Sounds to me like there is more at work here than the proper choice of application/database platform.

          Are you trying to solve a knowledge/skill deficit in the org by switching platforms?


          Filemaker + WebDirect can provide a satisfactory web application experience if engineered, developed, and supported right.

          Right development + right server hardware & deployment + right network infrastructure and WebDirect can be very nice.


          Can it completely replace a well engineered PHP + javascript + SQL web app?

          Alot depends on complexity of requirements of the system and the need for customization of the user experience.


          I would generalize by saying simple to moderately complex apps can work very well in WD.

          Complex to enterprise level web applications should be handled by a webstack.


          I'm sure others will have differences of opinions and you should carefully consider them all.

          • 2. Re: Switching from DB to FM Pro Opinions

            Great info - thank you!!!


            The DB we have, was built 8 years ago and is still not complete.  The developer still doesn't have things working like calculating wages.  It's beyond frustrating and we are trying to decide if starting over is a better way to go.  We have invested so much time and money into it.


            Thank you for the detailed reply - I appreciate it.

            • 3. Re: Switching from DB to FM Pro Opinions

              FileMaker sounds like a good fit for your needs. You said your current app is web-based but that may just be an artifact of the platform choice -- do you actually need access via web? Or is this only used in your office? If the latter, or even mostly the latter, then FileMaker's web capabilities are less of a factor.


              Unfortunately, the responsiveness of the developer you choose is a whole separate issue. But one of the nice things about FileMaker is that you may not have to rely on an outside developer for everything.

              • 4. Re: Switching from DB to FM Pro Opinions

                The FileMaker platform would seem to be a good fit for what you describe:

                • Desktop, Mobile and Web √
                • Scale of project easily handled by the FileMaker platform √
                • Rapid Application Development √
                • Strong security model √


                You might want to go with a "hybrid" approach...small web application + FileMaker tied together with ESS or

                FileMaker integrated with the file uploads using a RESTful API.


                Your spec seems to describe FileMaker's sweet spot.


                8 Years is at least 7 years more than it should take to build a useful system.


                Is there any documentation for the project (ERD, process flows, simple bullet point list of needs, etc.)?


                Tony White

                • 5. Re: Switching from DB to FM Pro Opinions

                  I would suggest hiring a competent FMP developer to evaluate your current system + must have requirements and give you a estimate cost and time to build with FM.

                  I would also get a competent PHP SQL developer in there to estimate how much time and $$ to finish the work the other guy started.

                  With those numbers as a guide you can make an informed business decision

                  • 6. Re: Switching from DB to FM Pro Opinions

                    "We have invested so much time and money into it."

                    I don't know if FM is a good choice for your company.

                    However, one mistake I have seen business owners make again and again is the 'sunk cost fallacy'. Don't stick with something because you've already spent money on it. It's natural to not want to waste, but that money has been spent. It's gone. Look forward.

                    What will it cost (in time and $$) to get the system you have to an adequate place? What will it cost to build a new system? Compare those two costs.