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Getting into web publishing won't solve the performance issue.
Tell them they've made a choice to go with the FileMaker platform. That gives them certain disadvantages, namely slower performance than a web-based solution, like PowerSchool. But it has advantages, namely, the cost of a single developer working part-time who can make customizations on the fly.
Let's talk tomorrow offline.
I agree...trying to do what you can do in FileMaker quickly and easily would take 4-10 times longer to develop in a web-based application...and require a team of people to likely get the same functionality you've been able to build with FileMaker. You should do all you can to optimize your application, your remote server, and minimize the amount of network traffic required to be used by the solution.
Thanks DJ and Tim. I forgot about the customization aspect. Every layout and script is tailored to the unique needs of the 3 schools and central office that access the information. I'll make it clear that nothing already out there could do what it needs to do for our schools.
Maybe in the future there will be something. but for now, I'll do what i can to speed it up.
Jeremy, I am involved in a similar school situation. Although I don't run the hosts (many throughout the state), the speed issue is pretty much under control, using Terminal Services, which only sends screen information to the user. Local printers can be configured in this scenario, too.
I started to develop a custom web solution (FM 11), but backed off because of the potential load, printing hurdles, and tricky entry with record-level security.
Who is hosting your database? If you are running the server, you should be able to use PHP Site Assistant to create web based access to your FM solution. If you are using a commercial Filemaker centric host, ask them about assistng you. There is a very good paper in TechNet Documents section on this topic: techbrief_fm_webpub_en.pdf
However, as Paul pointed out, restricting access to FM Pro client elimnates a lot of problems in regard to access, printing, UI and other issues. From what you've written, it seems the problem is not so much with having to use the FM client for access but the speed of performance over the WAN.
In regard to WAN performance, which version of FM are you using? FM12 has been redesigned to work much faster over the WAN than previous versions.
Regardless of version, have you maximzed your schema for WAN performance? The manner in which you flow amd store data has a tremendous impact on remote access speed. Mark Richman of Skelton Key has delivered talks on this at the last few DevCons. There is a video he developed in Technical Resource Center that can be downloaded via mrichman_WAN_performance.wrf.zip
You will need a WebEx player to view the video file - but download is free if you don't already have it.
I personally benefited greatly from taking an online course Mark conducts on this topic. As I recall the enrollment fee is around $300 - and I found this a bargain as it basically consisted of Mark's providing one on one support to me as we worked through problems in my database design. I believe he still does these peridocially and you might want to check out the Skeleton Key website for more information.
I may check out Skeleton Key.
The issue is that there are still slow parts, and apparently if there's a slow part here and there, they want to abandon the client model. I've met with them and explained the limitations, the status of where we are at, etc. I'm going to do some testing with clients. I'll visit them in their rooms and watch them do their thing with FileMAker and see what happens.
thanks for the ideas all.
I don't agree here with Tim & David...
I think that if you are offering the web-based solution for the other systems that web-based FM solution should be similarly available. They simply are faster! They do not dictate platform (ie Mobile platform). They can be more easily integrated into a single cohesive interface... many reasons!
Your problem is the learning curve or the cost of outsourcing to do that. Time or Money... that is their decision. Do we wait for the FM solution to do it's thing? Do we wait until Jeremy is proficient enough to do the PHP and CSS and JS etc to build the web interface? or Do we bite the bullet right now and pay for the web development? I am betting that the last solution is the one they really should be taking and that will save them time and money in the long-run. Customisation is so much easier dynamically on the web.