Is Web Direct and Instant Web Publishing the same thing? And if not does that mean you can use Web Direct with just FMS and not need FMS Advanced?
No, they are not the same thing. WebDirect replaced Instant Web Publishing as of version 13. And yes, you can conceivably use WebDirect without the client (although you will need the client to build and maintain the database).
Also I see in the Web Direct Documentation the availability to have a custom home page at, c:\Program Files\ Filemaker\ Filemaker Server\HTTPServer\conf , could I be sneaky and put multiple HTML pages in here? ie the intranet pages?
As I understand it, the baseline is only one custom home page. I do believe mikebeargie has done some clever things with home page configuration that might be a workaround (IIRC).
I also see I can link directly from an HTML page. I could just link to the homepage but once i'm at that homepage am I already 'in' the Filemaker files? Should authentication happen on this homepage or before you get to the homepage?
No, you would need to log into the specific database being used. That's when authentication happens - when the user opens the chosen database.
It is possible to configure a URL to bypass the home page and open the hosted database directly; see the documentation for the URL format to use.
I'll credit Harlow Tech with the best work for customizing the filemaker webdirect homepage. Their files are hosted on GitHub here:
Here are some other useful reads for you out of my blog posts and some other blogs:
Thanks for sharing all knowledge
Thanks Mike, I'll take a look.
Mike I have confused myself I think, I thought there was a such a thing as Filemaker Server 14 Advanced?
So on the FM side of things I wouldn't need anything other than what I've got, Filemaker Server 14 + connections and Filemaker Pro 14?
There is no "advanced" version of filemaker server anymore. That was discontinued a while ago, I believe after 11.
I would seriously recommend a copy of filemaker pro advanced for your development work, and reserve filemaker pro for users that want to connect with the desktop client.
In terms of hosting and connecting WebDirect users, you only need filemaker server, and your connection packs for the server to connect WebDirect (and filemaker go) users.