1 2 Previous Next 20 Replies Latest reply on Nov 26, 2016 5:42 PM by David Moyer

    Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup

    RichardStuart_2

      Greets, all:

       

      I finally got our WebDirect setup working but as other FM Server (FMS) users know and have discussed, there no native way for WebDirect end users to print a record (or records), or create .pdf's of records to have automatically e-mailed to them, instead.

       

      I found a tantalizing way of getting around this issue looking at dbservice's and/or Clickwork's solutions but I don't quite understand what they mean about using a robot to handle the processing. Here, FileMaker Pro (FMP) v15.x (Windows) is installed on the same Windows server as FMS. Am I to understand that a server-side script somehow opens and uses FMP to do the heavy lifting to run scripts and send e-mails (of a .pdf version of a record) in place of a server, or...? If so, how does that work?

       

      TIA for your help!

      Rich

        • 1. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
          David Moyer

          Hi,

          I used to have a dedicated PC I called the "activity processor".  One consultant labeled it a "robot".

          So, it was a FM client that ran a loop, or (probably would have been better), an Install on Timer Script, that would do stuff.

          My guess is that this dedicated PC (desktop client robot) would look to a table of say, print requests created by your webdirect clients.  The robot would then handle the requests..  I did this with email requests made by customer service folks.  My table held standard to, from, cc, subject, message and attachment path in text fields.

           

          I hope this helps.

          • 2. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
            dougnewnham

            I believe the Clickworks solutions works via having the robot FM open on a form with no records.  It has an "OnRecordLoad" script installed that fires off when a record is created.  The script can then go off and create PDF's etc.At completion, you remove the record from the table and return to the layout.  I found the sample file a bit hard to follow so I'm currently developing my own.  Right in the middle of it to be honest and only yesterday had it successfully auto create PDF reports and email them to a list of managers.

            • 3. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
              RichardStuart_2

              I'd be interested to see what you come up with, Doug, since you're right--it's hard to follow...and I want to do roughtly what you're doing: create a completed .pdf form then e-mail them to its respective submitter.

               

              So as I understand it, I need to have the FMP client up and running on the server and use a script in the server's FMP file to call the client to create the pdf form, handing-off the data in the process, correct?

              • 4. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                bman2232

                I have a robot system in place and running for this exact reason, and I have been using it for about a year. The biggest problem with it is making sure the robot machine stays online with the file open. I created a shell script that runs when the machine starts, and I have the machine set to restart automatically after power failure. But this is not 100% effective. Sometimes the connection drops without any clear reason, so you need to make sure you check on your robot client fairly regularly. Hopefully we will see PDF printing support come to web direct in the next release.

                • 5. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                  dougnewnham

                  Yes, making sure the machine is on and Filemaker is running is a vital step of course.  I had read that running FM Pro your FM Server is the way to go (faster, more likely to be on a UPS) but found that the client frequently disconnected.  I have one server running FM Server 14 and Pro 14 with no issues but my 15 client and server seem to have issues running on the same 'box'. 

                   

                  Rich - my current set up is basic in comparison to the other samples on the 'net so it's probably not perfect but it's doing what I want it to do right now.  I can elaborate on here or go into more detail offline?

                  • 6. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                    brucewilson

                    I too have had issues with the robot system disconnecting.

                    I now use a launch deamon on Mac (or a scheduled task on Windows) to open a local FileMaker document.

                    The startup script opens the hosted file, does the appropriate stuff, then quits FileMaker.

                    The process then repeats at the specified interval.

                     

                    In one case the robot is on the server.

                    • 7. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                      bigtom

                      I have robots setup that seem to stay connected forever. I use a table with a "Flag" field and an Install onTimer script that runs every 5 seconds to 5 minutes depending on the process needed. FMP is always open and connected running the script that looks for Table::Flag ≠ 0. If/when found the script loops through the found set doing the process and setting the flag to 0. The records are purged after x number of days. You could simply delete the recordist the end of the script but for my uses a history of the processes is useful.

                      • 8. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                        IanR

                        I also have been running a robot FMP on the same machine as FMS for many years now.  I started doing this with IWP and now with WebDirect.  It loops, with a delay, looking at a Worklist table.  If it finds entries it does the requested work.  This is most often writing a pdf file and either emailing it or placing it in a folder on the server machine for the WebDirect user to display using a WebViewer, from where they can print it.  The looping delay is short to give the WebDirect user fairly quick response to small print requests by the WebViewer option.  The Worklist entries allow the robot to emulate the context of the requestor, including Account Privileges and Found Set.  I have had no problem with the robot losing connection to the server.  The server machine is on a UPS.  Happy to supply more detail.

                        Ian

                        • 9. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                          RichardStuart_2

                          Thanks, all. I've been feverishly working on another project at work (I hate "surprise" projects) so I'll circle back to this in the next week or two...hopefully!

                          • 10. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                            ezeitgeist

                            This just came out: http://www.modularfilemaker.org/module/pdf-in-webdirect/

                             

                            That said, I have everything setup to spec but it is not functioning. I think my problem is my confusion on HOW to setup a "Robot Account". Is the Robot account just an admin privilege user??? OR is it something else? It makes sense that it would be something else that has fuller access to run things on the server, given the limitations of WebDirect, but since I am brand new to WebDirect, I am utterly confused.

                             

                            For those who have robot account/user setup, how exactly do I do that? I currently just setup an admin user in my FMP project on the sever, but I think that is wrong.

                            • 11. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                              bigtom

                              Generally a robot is a stand alone client machine. Not just a user account.

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                              • 12. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                                ezeitgeist

                                When you say a "client machine", you mean it is its own machine with a separate server on it and that is all it does? I am hosting my FMP project using a company that specializes in FMP/FMS. Is this something they will likely already have, something they can easily add on a shared machine, or is it going to cost me an arm and a leg?

                                • 13. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                                  bigtom

                                  FWIW I am glad the MFM guys put this out there. I have been doing this for a few years with Go and WD and I just assumed everyone knew how this sort of thing worked.

                                   

                                  If you watch the video you will see that a separate client is required to execute the script. There are a couple ways to skin this cat, but as usual MFM and RC do a great job. The more info everyone has the better.

                                   

                                  Describing it as a Push service may make it easier for a lot of people.

                                  • 14. Re: Need a little clarification about a robot FileMaker setup
                                    bigtom

                                    It is not a separate server. It is a separate client. Many people use low end hardware for these machine. It comes at the cost of the hardware and a FMP license to run on it.

                                     

                                    Think of it as a FMP user on autopilot.

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