1 2 Previous Next 20 Replies Latest reply on Nov 4, 2012 5:43 PM by CarlSchwarz

    Document Server Solution


      Dear Filemaker Community,


      Though I have done some tinkering with Filemaker solutions myself, I am hoping that there exists a product (for purchase or sharing) that uses the strengths of Filemaker 12 and Filemaker Server as a document server for our group. This would include automatic versioning as new documents are edited, security features especially for mobile devices, and the ability to handle Word and pdf files (bonus if it could handle other formats on multiple platforms). Ideally, I'd like a solution that I could further customize myself over time as our needs change. I am especially interested in a solution that includes the ability to view documents on the iOS platform and would like to avoid having to create this from scratch since I am convinced that others with more Filemaker chops than myself have probably coded a solution (or many solutions) in the recent past.


      Thanks for any leads or suggestions. Sorry for the newbie question but searching the forums for "document server" did little to reveal what discussions may have already occurred on this topic.



        • 1. Re: Document Server Solution

          Hi Rob,

          You might want to check out my site AppleJackIt.com.  I am about to release just such a solution for pdf files. The only caveat is that it only works on Mac OS since my solution depends on AppleScript and software that is AppleScript enabled such as Adobe's Acrobat Pro.  The solution utilizes Acrobat Pro to extract Metadata and bookmarks, though I have tested it with other plugin's as well, including a external Python program.


          Have a look on my site, and be sure to click on the 'Lean More.." tab.


          Gerry Hedlund Sr




          • 2. Re: Document Server Solution

            Lose the apostrophe.


            "with other plugins as well."

            • 3. Re: Document Server Solution

              Thanks for the information, Gerry.


              I was hoping to find a more robust solution that would work on Macs, Windows and especially iOS for document retrevial in a secure environment with version tracking and the ability to search/sign documents.  Yours is a mac only solution and I wish you all the best on your future roll out.  Perhaps some better information in the slides on your website would help people, myself included, understand your vision better.


              I'd also like to add the question: Can filemaker have an iBook file made by the iBook authoring software from Apple in a container field and have that file trasferred to iBooks on the iOS device for reading?  Is that possible?



              • 4. Re: Document Server Solution

                Doesn't specifically answer your question but have you looked at SuperContainer from 360 works?   It works on all three and deals with at least some of your issues.  They also have a specific application called DocuBin built on Supercontainer that seems to be something to look at.  I didn't really look at it at Devcon, because we already have an imaging system.


                Remember that they are willing to customize parts for you. ( including modiflications to supercontainer )


                While the new containers have some strengths, the limitation of them needing to be on the FMS box and to up and download when you move files has some issues with us for 3 million image records that we store in Supercontainer, and let some other box be attached to the storage array for those terrabytes.



                • 5. Re: Document Server Solution

                  Thanks dhr,


                  My review of Supercontainer, which has been around a long time, is that alot of its functionality was included in version 12 of filemaker.  Containers got a big upgrade in the current version and they can now encrypt, handle more files, and are much faster with thumbnails created on the fly.  I'm not sure what features of SuperContainer would be needed in the document server I need.  Again, I wanted to find a solution that would store a document in the container of each record, create new records for previous versions of the same file that would be invisible to most users (archiving feature), allow access to at least pdf and word (RTF?) type files on the fly from windows, mac and iOS, and also enable me to track who is viewing what documents and have a facility to have users "sign" a document that they have reviewed either as an author or as a reader (for eductional puposes moving forward).  I'm pretty sure this can all be done in filemaker 12 with scripts, etc.  What I'm not as sure about is the ability to read the documents in the container field on all platforms.  It would be great if there was a way to have the iBooks app on iOS display the container field pdf or iBook content if possible.  Forgive my ignorance if this seems like a trivial issue to many of you here.



                  • 6. Re: Document Server Solution

                    Using a filemaker record ( image record ) and then a supercontainer based web viewer.  FMP12 does NOT store the image in the container. It creates a file structure, like supercontainer, but only on the server.


                    1. The files are not in filemaker nor visible unless you make wherever you store them visible. 


                    2. They are not in Filemaker so you can easily backup up and restore them without "issues".


                    3. They already used tomcat to stream different sized images to the client.


                    4. I think that Docubin does your rtf / xcel stuff.  360 works sells a plugin to do that and so they could combine both.


                    5. Using the supercontainer plugin you can build various workflows to it.  And just normal filemaker stuff to show if someone had viewed it or needed to sign off etc.


                    6. On their site they talk about ios fmp container performance.


                    7. PDF will be 'native' to either.  But filemaker is not, on its own, going to be able to deal with various office formats.  ( but as I said, I think Docubin will )


                    8. I have used it for several years.  We do not yet have any mobile apps using it.



                    • 7. Re: Document Server Solution

                      Thanks again, dhr.


                      If I understand you:


                      Filemaker 12 can host the files on the server and make them visibe if programmed that way.  You are saying that the container fields do not actually contain the item (pdf file, etc) but rather a file structure so we would need to create directories for the documents on the server and refer to them in filemaker container fields, correct?  If I limit things to pdf files would that work well without any add ons?  I read that when a container is opened continaing a pdf file in iOS that you can "export" it to another application, even iBooks.  Hence, though not native to filemaker, I think pdf files could be read on whatever platform (mac, windows or iOS) that the client is using.  I'm still not understanding what I need supercontainer for in this quest to get a good document server up and running.  Perhaps the performance is not as good but I think that filemaker did update the container structure a lot in version 12.. is that still true?


                      I am still hoping that someone out there has coded some sort of solution to this.  This must be a common issue facing many groups.  Any other clues out there?



                      • 8. Re: Document Server Solution

                        Sorry to offer a NON Filemaker result.  But I spent quite some time programming a document management system (without the documents, just text in Filemaker) with version management and document distribution management up until we got a Windows Server with Sharepoint.  Sharepoint does everything you have asked including editing documents, and even has collaborative document editing (more than 1 person editing the same document at once) and there are a multitued of iOS apps written to access files.  There are apps on every platform if that matters.

                        Once again sorry for going off topic with Filemaker but that's what has worked out in our organisation.  If you don't want a Windows Server then there's Office 365 but that is cloud based and I'm sure is less than ideal.  It saved me continuing to work with my document management system and I got onto more important things.

                        • 9. Re: Document Server Solution

                          Thanks Carl,


                          Sharepoint is a comprhensive solution and would certainly handle documents well.  However, it is really overkill for our purposes.  I'd rather not burden our group with wondows server issues (cost, administration, etc.).  I know there must be a way to do this with filemaker and I am simply hoping not to have to code it all from ground zero.  Would you be willing to share any filemaker solution you had coded previously before you go onto to sharepoint?  It sounds like you had version management and document ditribution from your post.


                          All the best with your "more important things".



                          • 10. Re: Document Server Solution

                            When you use server or even in single user.  Filemaker automatically sets up a file structure.  You don't need to create or manage it, but its 'somewhere'.


                            On server is just below the files.  One folder per filemaker file and then inside are all the folders for the files you import into the the container(s)  They may be readable or not depending on if you encrypt them.  ( or so says the friendly manual but I have not done this )


                            As you say if you do PDF you should be close to done.


                            You said RTF / Word and possibly excel, so I gave you a suggestion for a filemaker solution that might meet your need.


                            I am sure lots of people have written various bits into solutions - but they do it the way they want to work, which is the advantage of FileMaker.  Make it do the workflow like i want.


                            Good luck.

                            • 11. Re: Document Server Solution

                              For us there was a more critical area to program at the time, but we still needed document compliance.  My solution is in FMPv6 and is buggy - tracking the people that received a document version doesn't always work. It also doesn’t allow to attach documents though containers could easily be added now.  So it will require a convert and some bug fixes.

                              If you still want that then I’ll upload it to a dropbox or something for you to grab.

                              • 12. Re: Document Server Solution

                                Sharepoint is a comprhensive solution and would certainly handle documents well.  However, it is really overkill for our purposes.  I'd rather not burden our group with wondows server issues (cost, administration, etc.).  I know there must be a way to do this with filemaker and I am simply hoping not to have to code it all from ground zero.


                                Are you sure that filemaker is the solution? It seems as though you want some sort of document server with version control.


                                If you use filemaker for this what is the scenario? Let's say I want to open up a word processing document that I had open yesterday. First I fire up Filemaker. I navigate to the document that I want and open it. It opens up in my word processor, I edit it and save my changes. Now I have to return to Filemaker and update the document record.


                                While I've had the file out for editing may another person open it for editing too? If so, you immediately have a fork. How do you handle merges? Even without these real, practical issues there is the simple fact the filemaker is required at the beginning and at the end. It really gets in the way and makes a lot more work. The pay-off would have to be very high value to the users or they will not be happy. Good software should make the job easier and I can't see that happening here.



                                • 13. Re: Document Server Solution

                                  Thanks again, Carl.


                                  My vision is that when the solution in installed on a filemaker server that the server will track who is logging on and looking at documents.  The system can be programmed to track this I believe (though I have not coded this before myself).  I can add the containers and even the "content management" solution built into FM12 is getting close to what I want to do.  pdf files seem to be handled well by the iphone, iPad and Mac parts of this (I hope by the windows version as well).


                                  I really appreciate your offer to share your previous work.  I know it will involve modification but if you solved some of the issues in your scripts it would be helpful.


                                  Dropbox would be great or direct e-mail if it's small enough.



                                  • 14. Re: Document Server Solution

                                    Dear Malcolm,


                                    I know there are lots of different document servers out there.  However, I would like to be able to understand whatever solution we adopt and be able to modify it myself in the future as necessary.  I have been in groups using more comprehensive systems and these are often frustrating and difficult to understand.  The needs of our group are really more in document distribution than editing online.  When documets need to be edited they will be edited off line and when edits are complete a new pdf file will be loaded centrally into the server for everyone to view from that point on.  I'd like the solution to track the previous versions (hidden to most users) and to also track approval signitures (of each version as it is adopted) and keep a list of who has read the document (as new versions come out).  I realize that there is no accounting for what "read" means.. I am not envisioning some timer that ensures that the user has spent some time purusing the document I simply need to document who has "seen" the document for regulatory and educational purposes.  Hence, there will never be an issue with "two people editing at the same time". 


                                    So really this is a much simpler problem for us but it still involves some coding for tracking of versions, signatures, access by users and as much as possible a seamless ability view the documents easily on all platforms from the server.


                                    I notice that in the iOS version of the FM12 "content management" solution included as part of the program that there is an ability to see pdf files but no real way to steer them to other programs.  Is there a way to code such a thing into the iOS version?


                                    Thanks for your interest and time.



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