7 Replies Latest reply on Apr 12, 2014 12:58 PM by bigtom

    To use or not to use Filemaker Server


      I'm a bit of a newby when it comes to filemaker. I'm an old time Foxpro developer. Recently I was asked to build and deploy a very simple questionaire for IPad. Basically a sales tool used to capture some info during a sales contact. It is basically comprised of a customer list table and a questionaire data capture table. Users log in, are brought to a search screen where they lookup a client they are visiting and then launch the questionaire screen where they record info from the sales call.


      My client was so happy with this simple solution that they would like to significantly build on it. I built this with Filemaker Pro Advanced 12 last year. We have a team of sales reps that spend most of their time making calls to very remote rural areas (farmers) and thustly I built this app to work offline. A copy of the database exists on the IPad. No syncronizations take place currently, they simply click a button and a report gets emailed to a manager. However, we now want to be able to syncronize to a master database.


      The performance of the app (speed with which the data is accessed) is key. So we don't want to have to be connected to query a customer. We do want to have the ability to syncronize with the master database periodically when the user is able to have internet access.


      I'm hoping someone can give me a tip as to whether or not we need Filemaker Server and perhaps point me to some examples of where something like what I've described is being done successfully.


      Thanks in advance


      Marty R.

        • 1. Re: To use or not to use Filemaker Server

          Hi Marty:


          The old addage applies... "it depends". ;-)


          How many users will you have?   How many records?  Will you need to update data to the iPads during the course of the day remotely, or will they return to the office. 


          You have most of what you need to test.  You can use your standalone version of Filemaker to setup a "peer to peer" type server for I believe up to 5 users simulateous users.


          There are really too many variables to answer this flat out for you.  But if you need more than 5 users connected at once, then it would be a "for sure".  Beyond that will really depend on your specific needs.




          • 2. Re: To use or not to use Filemaker Server

            Thanks for the reply Lee!  Yes, I thought as much.  Looks like I'll be requiring the server version. 


            How many users...

                 We have potentially 30 users in the pool at the moment.  They won't all be concurrently syncronizing, but it may be that more than 5 will be doing so at the same time. 


            How many records...

                 Currently our customer table contains about 100,000 entries.  Related tables may have well in excess of that.  However, only small portions of the records will have been updated on a daily or weekly basis. 


            Updating of data will only occur when they are back at the office, or perhaps at home or some other location where they have wifi access. 


            I've never fully understood how the filemaker database does it's thing as far as syncronizing.  I wish I could find some documentation on it.  I'll admit that I haven't looked tremendously hard, but where I've looked I haven't found anything. 





            • 3. Re: To use or not to use Filemaker Server

              Marty -


              Yes, I would recommend Server in your situation. To perform the actual synchronization, there are some commercial products out there that can do it (GoZync is one; MirrorSync is another). If you prefer to roll your own, I've attached a copy of the synchronization white paper that lays out the process.





              • 4. Re: To use or not to use Filemaker Server

                You definitely FMServer. Users can have the database working off-line and checck in when convenient to sync.


                There are several good sync tools out there, e.g. 360works.com or GoZync

                • 5. Re: To use or not to use Filemaker Server

                  Thanks for the reply Mike.  I was just reading a document from the tech forum "ios_sync_fm13_en.pdf".  I'll read your document as well.  Your feedback is very much appreciated.

                  • 6. Re: To use or not to use Filemaker Server

                    Thanks so much for your feedback psijmons.  I'll have a look at those sync tools you suggest.

                    • 7. Re: To use or not to use Filemaker Server

                      I recently moved from peer to peer to server because of the number of users dropping from 9 to 5 in FM13. It is a little different, but not too bad. I can tell you the speed of the hosted file is better on server.


                      You may be ok to just import records from the remote users, but I am not sure if there is a way to automate that process. You may still need someone to actually manually do the import. The Sync guide has good info. Some of the sync tools are clunky and not intuitive tot he user from what I have seen. They are comprehensive and reliable though.


                      All of our remote users have great connections and we have not had but a few instances of diconnects mid edit (wireless user in a train that went underground for a bit with no radio signal). Made a few layout changes to commit record more often and that is working with direct access without sync.


                      If your remotes are rural and need the solution on the remote client you need a sync of sone sort.