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You need to make a related table of container data to your parent record if you want to add multiple files to a record, that's pretty much standard DB normalization (not a FileMaker limitation).
As for webdirect, it highly depends on your solution how WD performs and what server hardware you need. What kind of user load are you expecting? I would recommend against running any more than 50 simultaneous connections, even though there is a theoretical "unlimited" connection pack for more. You'll also need robust hardware to process WD for a lot of users.
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I'll echo MIke's advice. WebDirect is not intended for a large number of users or a high-demand environment. If you need more than a relatively small number of users, consider purchasing FileMaker licenses (or, depending on the solution, perhaps using iPads and FileMaker Go).
And no, you cannot cluster FileMaker servers with load balancing. The technology doesn't work that way. Optimization will primarily be (a) hard disk speed; (b) CPU speed; (c) solution design (optimizing for network efficiency and proper normalization); (d) network performance.
Is there anyway to split databases over mulitiple servers? - I'm needing to create a public facing website with the data.
also is there anyway to cache records on a device and not the whole database?
There are multiple sync utilities for caching data on a device. MirrorSync, SyncDek and GoZync are all designed to "take your data with you" so FileMaker go can function without an internet connection.
Custom Web Publishing may be your answer instead of WebDirect.
Like we have said, without knowing more about your intended solution, we can not make a solid recommendation.
Yes, you can split databases across multiple servers, and they can talk to each other. However, depending on what you're trying to accomplish, you can wind up hurting your performance instead of helping it.
You can do a public-facing web site using FileMaker as the back end, but you're better off using the Custom Web Publishing capabilities of the product than WebDirect for such an endeavor, like Mike said.
And, like Mike said, without knowing more about your project, we're a little hampered in offering good advice.
I'm looking to create a database for surveyors to check plans/buildings etc. building regs essentially. The stakeholders would then login to check the status of their application.
250 surveyors using iPads to input data. probably only 50 at any one time. although as i said they would check off the records they need (say 10 a day) and then sync that data once they get a data connection.
There could be upto 2500 people logging into the public website at any time.
What custom web publishing options are there? Linking to SQL/PHP?
Custom Web Publishing is a FileMaker-specific term that refers to using the PHP API to connect a PHP-based site to a FileMaker back-end database. To answer your question specifically, there are several methods available to link a FileMaker database to a SQL database - you can do push/pull via ODBC connection and SQL commands, import / export, or a FileMaker-specific technology known as ESS (External SQL Sources).
Given the parameters of what you're doing, I strongly suggest you look at a syncing strategy for your iPads. As Mike has pointed out, there are several commercial options available.
2500 simultaneous users is a bit on the high side (in my experience) for a CWP site. You'll need to do one of two things:
1) Hire a consultant who can optimize the database and the code used for the site. Just using off-the-shelf standard database structures and code will likely result in substandard performance. You can find FileMaker consultants either here on FileMaker's web site (under Find a Developer) or via commercial sites like eLance or Linked In.
2) Have a web developer set up the site using PHP and, say, MySQL, then link to that using one of the available integration technologies. If you need help with the linkup, then again, hire a consultant.
There are other options (for example, there are ways to link a SQLServer / .NET site to a FileMaker database), but they're less direct. But for the loads you're talking about, I'd avoid WebDirect. You'll melt your server.
Also one big stumbling block I've noticed in my very short time working with the platform is that I can seem to add more than one file into a container (as in a client might need to add 1 photo or 100000 and I want them to be able to...)
I have an app. with 90.000 photos (by reference). Visualized by lan and wan, and its speed is optimal. Work your resolution with "RIOT".
FMS11 + FMP11