5 Replies Latest reply on Dec 11, 2012 11:48 AM by lkeyes

    Sharing on a Server


      I have a church that I've been helping, who were wondering the best way to deploy their contact database in FM12.


      They have three copies of FMW12. They have one master (heavy) user, and two others who will use the shared data file built by the master user for occasional lookups.


      They have a small Microsoft SBS 2008 network server.


      We developed the database on one machine, and now they want to share it to the other two machines. We copied the data file (it is split) to the server, for automatic backup) but now the main person gets error messages about sharing when he opens the database for the first time in the morning. He normally checks the options to "not share", and goes on his merry way at that point.


      In this scenario, is it preferable to hold the data file on his local workstation, and then allow the others to access it? I hesitate to have them buy FileMaker Server, as it is overkill for the amount that the other folks are going to use the data, and I've convinced them to buy the other workstation copies. (I keep hearing "Well in Access, this wasn't a problem..."!).


      As a new developer, I'm having trouble managing expectations with potential FM customers, as they balk at buying extra software for the server and each workstation. (nonwithstanding that they have of course paid for MSOffice licenses, just that was in the past, and they think that is a sunk cost.)


      Another thought.... do people run a copy of FM Workstation on their _server_ just to make the file remotely available to the workstations?


      I just want this to be as transparent as possible for the users.


      Thanks for any ideas.

        • 1. Re: Sharing on a Server
          Stephen Huston

          You are doing what we call Peer-to-peer sharing, which has many potential risks compared to using FM Server on a dedicated machine.


          If you must stay with peer-to-peer because you cannot afford to go to Server, I would recommend for this small number of users that you run a copy of FMP12 on the server machine so that the FM files are always open, rather than letting one of the real workstations open and close it with the attendant risks of disconnecting other users. Have the server machine share the files, but train the users to connect via the Open Remote rather than trying to open the files directly on the server disk. This way they will only login to files which are already open rather than trying to open it themselves and risk becoming the Host.


          Your server machine should alwasy be the Host of the files, even if doing so with FMP12 instead of FMServer12.

          • 2. Re: Sharing on a Server



            The easiest way is to have the Heavy user open the database, have the database shared, (File/Sharing/FileMaker network)

            Then have the users connect to the same database using File/Open Remote/ Local host.


            Do Not share the database by opening the database on a shared volume, but put the database local on the Heavy User's disk.


            If you want to make the database available even when the Heavy User is not using it, you could put a FMP licence on the

            server and have the database there open the whole time, but that would require an extra FM licence.


            Hope that helps,


            Best regards,


            Ruben van den Boogaard

            Infomatics Software


            • 3. Re: Sharing on a Server
              Stephen Huston

              IN addition to hosting from the Server, pay special attention to any backup process on the server, and don't let it backup the FM data file(s) unless you specifically schedule closing them before the backup is run an opening them again after the backup process, or omit them from the backup completely. Running any backup process other than what is built into FMServer scheduling, on a live FM data file can hose the file.


              I still recommend that the Server machine be the Host, not one of the other FM client machines, but protecting the files from file-level backup software is essential.

              • 4. Re: Sharing on a Server

                Hello lkeyes,


                I appreciate when you are starting out as a FileMaker developer, accommodating your clients is a chief concern. This can lead to unsustainable directions, however.


                1. In reference to their prior experience with Access; Access as a platform wasn't designed to be a robust multi-user environment. On the other hand, FileMaker with FileMaker Server is designed to ensure integrity of their data and files with numerous clients.


                2. Windows SBS is not a platform for FileMaker serving. There is too much going on in the background, never mind the peer-to-peer issues.


                3. Although your client may believe peer-to-peer (without FileMaker Server) is the only way they can affordably work with FileMaker, this is a world of hurt. Every attempt you make to mitigate risk (loss of data, loss of access, loss of file integrity) would be better spent equipping them with a dedicated computer with FIleMaker Server installed.


                Managing expectations in FileMaker involves in the first instance respecting best practices. Everything comes after. Their commitment to Microsoft shouldn't compromise FileMaker database integrity.


                I'm not sure about your references to FM Workstation. Are you referring to FileMaker Pro? Perhaps you should understand the FileMaker product offerings and their specifications in more detail before you go back to your client.



                Best wishes,


                Beatrice Beaubien, PhD

                i2eye, Toronto, Canada


                FileMaker Business Alliance

                FileMaker 12 Certified Developer

                Knowledge Translation Certified Professional

                • 5. Re: Sharing on a Server

                  Many thanks to everyone who weighed in on this question.  I think I've got the message.  


                  ---- Larry