1 2 Previous Next 27 Replies Latest reply on Jan 8, 2014 12:48 PM by thornburg

    WebDirect … the buggy beta version?

    filemaker@perolsen.dk

      Hi there

       

      I am converting a huge FMP 12 IWP solution to FMP 13 WebDirect.

       

      After working some hours adjusting layouts and scripts, I must say that I'm starting to doubt if this is the right move.

       

       

      It is quite a big solution with many tables and tons of relations.

      The whole thing was designed for IWP and it runs pretty fast (just the smallest hosting plan available).

       

      Looking from the end users point of view, WebDirect is just an update of IWP. I know that it is a complete new approach with many exiting features, but the user won't see that.

       

       

      I installed a FileMaker Server 13 on a 2,66 GHz Quad Core i7. It is in my office with a gigabit ethernet connection to my workstation.

      I did not install any extra seats for WebDirect - just using the one included while developing.

       

      WebDirect is slooooooooooow compared to IWP.
      IWP does not commit data by itself. To ensure that data got commited, I put a commit step into the navigation.

      During commit I would set some values for caching data to get portals and search go faster.

       

      In WD any click in the navigation now results in a box "Please wait while the script is being executed".

       

      I have some pretty long portal rows with some filtering. In IWP the result could be a short delay when entering such a layout. But then scrolling was smooth and fast.

      WD loads some of the records and when you scroll it will stop and load some more. The portal rows not loaded are white and after a second a spinning wheel ... and then numbers showing which records are being loaded. We need some options here to force a pre load.

       

      Same goes for lists. IWP had a limit of 25 records in list view. That was a bit annoying - but it was easy to make navigation buttons and control. And switching to the next 25 was fast.

      WD shows part of the list and when you scroll down it will load more records on the fly. But it is slow - and complety impossible to control. You scroll a bit down, get a lot of white fields, a spinning wheel, then a note with the record numbers loading ... but you might have scolled a bit too far and then it will start loading some more and wait again.

      But ... this must only be when you scroll down and get more items into view? NO ... when you have scrolled down and needs to go up again, the same thing happens. Even though you just saw the records a moment ago.

       

      To navigate a list view like this demands patience and slow movements on the scroll wheel. Like handling nitro glycerine.

       

      Any change of layouts takes 1 or 2 seconds - enough to make you click once more - with unpredictable results as the next click might hit a button, that has not come to view.

       

      It is really sluggish ... and that is ONE connection via GIGABIT ETHERNET.

       

      I know that I'll have to adjust and tweak my scripts but I'm quite shocked at this so far.

       


      And the bugs ... oh the horror. Simple things that MUST have been noticed by FileMaker.

       

      TextColor in calculations doesn't work.

      Alignment of text doesn't work - all is aligned to left - makes the layouts look pretty lame.

      Indent doesn't work.

      If you place a field in the tab area of tabs it will get pushed down beneath the tab area (I have had a number value in some of the tabs - and I used to put language translations into tabs this way).

      WebViewer doesn't show content.

       

       

      What did I get?

      It is nice that the page doesn't reload when entering a field.

      Transparent gifs in containers remain transparent.

      Drag and drop images into container fields.

      I can skip a PHP/AppleScript/FileMaker/robot combo for uploading images (I still need the FileMaker/robot for sending PDFs to the users though - no printing yet).

      I can skip some commit steps.

      I don't need to put fields on top of tabs to translate the tab name to other languages.

       

       

      The conclusion:

      I really hope this a buggy beta version of WebDirect, and FileMaker is working really hard on optimizing speed. If the speed doesn't improve it is a catastrophe ... an improved IWP had been better.

       

      I will continue playing with WD ... but I won't go into production with it yet.

       

      Best regards

      Per

        • 1. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
          ColinKeefe

          Not to detract from your general pain, but can I ask if you have read the WebDirect Guide?  Some of the things you're calling "bugs" are explicitly not supported in this version:


          https://fmhelp.filemaker.com/docs/13/en/fm13_webdirect_guide.pdf

           

          In there you'll find, among other things, that WebDirect does not support indentation (use object Padding instead).  In fact, start reading from page 14 and you'll see that any kind of text styling inside fields (of the data itself) isn't supported.

           

          You can solve your alignment problem by taking advantage of the new object padding feature.

           

          It also sounds like you're repurposing layouts previously used for IWP or desktop.  They may contain unneccessarily load heavy elements that affect performance.  Again look for these kinds of suspects from the guide:

           

          The web browser communicates with FileMaker Server whenever:

          • a record is created, opened, committed, or deleted
          • the current record is changed
          • the layout is changed
          • a calculation is evaluated
          • a script is performed
          • a script trigger is activated

           

          Seriously consider building fresh new WD layouts just as you did with IWP and go light on the above.

           

          In general, I just suggest reading that whole link before even touching WD.

          • 2. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
            filemaker@perolsen.dk

            I am aware that, I need to change a lot - and I was prepared.

             

            My considerations is mainly about IF WebDirect will ever be a feasable and fast alternative to IWP. And I think that is quite important to warn others about the quirks and differences.

             

            As far as I see it IWP did a better job converting, what you layouted in FileMaker to what you get in a browser.

            Maybe it is limitations in CSS ... but hey IWP got around it. Why shouldn't WD?

             

            To me it seems like the "implicit interaction" has cost us a LOT in performance. Is it really worth it? Web users are used to submit buttons.

            If "implicit interaction" IS the reason for the extreme demand for server power per seat - and the sluggishness, I would really ask FileMaker to consider an option to turn that feature off. I would happily live with the speeds of IWP and lesser hardware demands for forcing the users hit "submit/commit" and "refresh".

             

            The users don't really care WHY things don't work the same way anymore ... but they WILL care about reduced speeds.

             

            Of course it is possible to design something light enough to demonstrate how well WD performs ... but it does not perform as well as IWP. That's what counts for the users.

             

            Best regards

            Per

            • 3. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
              LSNOVER

              Per:

               

              I have an EXTREMELY complicated app. that I have running in WebDirect.  It is not blazingly fast, but much richer than IWP will ever be.  Dialogs?  Yes, Popovers? Yes.   Filemaker record behavior?  Yes.

               

              You MUST run this on decent hardware.  I would avoid Internet Explorer for now.   Use Chrome or Safari (Chrome is best, IMHO).  Are you using one of the built in Themes?   If not, I would suggest setting up a fresh layout and doing so.  Make minimal changes to the theme for best results.  Make sure the server has LOTS of RAM.

               

              All that said, this IS essentially V1.   It's going to be a bit bumpy while we wait for some v revs.   Be patient, report your bugs to FM.   Configured correctly, WebDirect can handle quite abit.     See my attached screen shot as an example.  This layout literally has over a thousand fields, dozens of tabs, is quite large, and actually works quite well.

               

              Regards,

              Lee

              • 4. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                wimdecorte

                filemaker@perolsen.dk wrote:

                 

                 

                My considerations is mainly about IF WebDirect will ever be a feasable and fast alternative to IWP

                 

                "Ever" is a big word   What I'm seeing so far in WebD is very promising.  It's been said over and over: this is a v1 release.  Nobody is forcing you to use it, you can keep using 12 and IWP until WebD matures to the point where it works for you.

                • 5. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                  gdurniak

                  That is an impressive, and encouraging layout

                   

                  However, it is odd that an IWP solution would not convert well to WebDirect. It should just work

                   

                  To the performance question,  it would pay to scroll thru the resulting Source Code, and see where there might be too much HTML code,  e.g. IWP portals with hundreds of rows are killers. If WebDirect sends more code for each page down, this could end up worse than IWP, for a moderate number of rows ( more chatty )

                   

                  We were also told at our New York "Road Show" to expect WebDirect performance to be about equivalent to FileMaker Client ( e.g. over a WAN )

                   

                  greg

                   

                  PS

                  I like that some of your Default Tab Panels are blank, which would help with performance

                   

                   

                  > See my attached screen shot as an example.  This layout literally has over a thousand fields, dozens of tabs, is quite large, and actually works quite well.

                   

                  Regards,

                  Lee

                  • 6. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                    cwiltgen86

                    Something to also take a look at would be your upload speed.  I have a Client working with WD and is running slow because they have an upload speed of 1mbps. They are working on upgrading their service to get WD to work better. 

                     

                    I also second the use of Chrome and the avoidance of IE.  I spent sometime on the phone with FM support and that was the basic answer I got.  Also use themes which are simply.  Avoid Gradients and sliced imaganes (Eg...Dont use the meadow theme instead use warm green). 

                     

                    Remember WD is basically a version of Pro.  It will load similar to Pro (over WAN). 

                    • 7. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                      LSNOVER

                      Do not take for granted using one of the new Themes on a freshly designed layout. 

                       

                      Speed is a relative thing.   If you are doing intensive scripts and such, and you can backload them to the server, you can see an overall improvement in performance.   My layout uses one of the simpler default themes and even with all those fields is performing well on a 6 year old server with 4 processors and 20GB of RAM.   You are going to HAVE to make some adjustments to optimize for WD.

                       

                      The other aspect of our app, is the main structure is essentially a big flat table.  We have found we pay a big penalty in Filemaker for using relationships.  Our backend db is SQL and is broken up differently, but the presentation layer in Filemaker has been kept as simple as possible for a variety of reasons.  We've been down many ally ways with this app. over the years, and the old adage of KISS really does apply here (though you would not know it by looking at the layout, lol).  

                       

                      The other area we have found can be a real performance killer with WD is large Found sets.  This is much like we have found using ESS.   We try to keep the found sets around a few hundred records or less.  If we go much more, the performance really takes a hit.  I hope that will improve going forward for both WebDirect and ESS.  But the take away is you must train your users and design your application to be a little more conservative in this regard.   If you need big totals or summarized data, push it back to the server to do the work, don't try to do it on the front end.  These are different strategies than Filemaker developers have typically had to employ, but if you can adapt, it can serve you very well.

                       

                      Cheers!

                      Lee

                      • 8. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                        gdurniak

                        No fair !  That's cheating  :-)

                         

                        greg

                         

                        > The other aspect of our app, is the main structure is essentially a big flat table.  We have found we pay a big penalty in Filemaker for using relationships.  Our backend db is SQL and is broken up differently, but the presentation layer in Filemaker has been kept as simple as possible for a variety of reasons.

                        • 9. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                          LSNOVER

                          You do what you gotta do. lol.

                           

                          The other reason for this is it makes imports and exports much easier for our end users.   There are dozens of tables and relationships, but they have been minimized to the extent possible. 

                          • 10. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                            filemaker@perolsen.dk

                            Of course we will have to adapt to WD, but it is sad, that much of the good stuff is missing.

                            TextColor has really been a great help making good layouts. That worked like a charm in IWP. It is sad that it's gone.

                             

                            Before TextColor came into FMP, I oftens stacked several calculations each in a different color to make check lists. Just a minor step backwards - but there are quite a few like this.

                             

                            Have you tried making a dropdown with more than 10 entries? WD only shows 10 dropdown values at a time - you will have to click on the little arrow to load the next 10. In a dropdown!!! Neither FMP or webusers will find that satisfying.

                             

                            Relations and portals are THE key elements in many of my solutions and they translated nicely into IWP - and it was FAST. If portals and relations has become a "problem" in WD ... some of the idea is lost. Hey ... flat databases are so much version 2. ;-)

                             

                            By the way ... the theme I use is CLASSIC ... that was the only one working with IWP and I really like clean simple layouts (I am Danish ... and we have a tradition of minimalistic design).  :-)

                             

                            One of the strong features of IWP was speed. It was a LOT faster to use IWP for simple data entry than to connect with FWP via WAN.

                            If WD is going down to WAN-speed it will be a nice alternative to FM Pro - but a worse alternative to IWP.

                             

                            In Denmark upload speeds are usually between 0.6 to 1.3 Mbits. If that is not enough to make a good and fast user experience, we've got a problem.

                             

                             

                            To continue developing for a technology that has been killed, is not a path I like. IWP rest in peace.
                            I see a lot of potential in WD, but some things seems like FileMaker didn't really knew what they wanted. It is not good enough to be a real thin client - and it is not fast (and cheap) enough to be a web app. I know ... it WILL get better in some of the areas, but I do hope FileMaker will listen to our wishes.

                             

                             

                            Wish list from me:

                             

                            Complete dropdown lists - 33 values needs four mouse clicks to move through.

                            Load all portal rows at once.

                            Get TextColor and other text formatting to work.

                            Make an option to turn of live updates in WD to reduce traffic and chatter.

                            Make an option to turn of auto commit to reduce traffic and chatter.

                             

                            Best regards

                            Per

                            • 11. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                              LSNOVER

                              We have a fair number of portals and such. 

                               

                              I'm just sharing my personal experience, you mileage may vary.

                               

                              I agree we could use better developer control over redraws and updates.

                               

                              I have some long drop down lists.

                               

                              It's a new world, embrace the change and experiment.  I think  you will find a way to get things going. 

                               

                              I KNOW Filemaker is listening and many of the issues have already been brought up, even prior to the release of the software.  Rome wasn't built in a day.   For a "newborn", I think Webd is very good.  Many areas to improve but we have to start somewhere.

                              • 12. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                                ColinKeefe

                                filemaker@perolsen.dk wrote:

                                 

                                 

                                Hey ... flat databases are so much version 2. ;-)

                                 

                                 

                                Actually flat databases are the past AND the future :-) Think NoSQL.

                                • 13. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                                  LSNOVER

                                  I've always been a bit of a non-coformist and a little bit retro.  lol.   Actually I LOVE SQL.  Best thing since sliced bread for data, IMHO.  But, Filemaker doesn't work nearly as effeciently with complex relationships as SQL.  Always play to your strength, but keep working on your weaknesses!

                                  • 14. Re: WebDirect … the buggy beta version?
                                    jormond

                                    This may be part of the problem. In 12, with the start of moving to a CSS layout model, FMI strongly discouraged too much customization of the 'themes'. The reason was, any customization resulted in extra CSS code stored in the layout.  The more objects that did not 'match' the theme, the more code would be stored. That's why so many found freshly built, native 12 layouts, faster than converted layouts.

                                     

                                    Classic Theme, especially if converted over from 11 or 12, could potentially have a ton of erroneous code that needs to be pushed to the browser. Have you tried one of the cleaner looking themes (on a duplicated layout) to see if there is better performance. It's the difference between FM telling the object to "look this the default theme field", and 'here are all the specs about how this object should look".

                                     

                                    Classic may initially sound like the better option, but it will depend on how much CSS is stored in that layout. Plus, 13 handles the CSS a little different than 12 when applying the style to an object(s).

                                    filemaker@perolsen.dk wrote:

                                     

                                    By the way ... the theme I use is CLASSIC ... that was the only one working with IWP and I really like clean simple layouts (I am Danish ... and we have a tradition of minimalistic design).  :-)

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