3 Replies Latest reply on Jul 9, 2014 11:05 AM by Stephen Huston

    best decision for the user...


      Hi All,

      I am after some advice here as I am finding I am unable to make a clear unbiased decision alone.

      I have recently got back into FileMaker development after a length absence from v6/7/8etc etc. I moved an application back then to a web based for a variety of reasons.

      1 - It was the "thing to do"

      2 - I didn’t want any hassle of installing software at client’s sites

      3 - Easier updating

      4 - I wanted to use SQL back end.


      Anyway, to be honest Filemaker lagged behind in those days and lacked a lot of the things developers needed when you compare to visual studio etc.

      However things have changed significantly now and technology has changed (again).


      Anyway I am in the process of revamping this web based application and I have been playing about with the front end in Filemaker to this SQL database.


      I am finishing myself writing classes in c# to save records and perform other mundane tasks that are taking days, playing about with fidgety CSS to make nice dialogs, jQuery etc. etc.

      Then I look at filemaker pro and realise I can do that pretty much in about 30minutes (if not less).


      It makes me think hard about this but I have this fear that the saved time upfront in Filemaker could be lost later with the more beefy deployment requirements in terms of licenses, installs etc.

      I must admit just emailing a URL is quite handy with a web based product.


      The real issue is that my clients don’t need it web based, they are local councils and they all use the package on their desktop pc! That’s it.

      The occasional user accesses it from a remote spot with their IPAD but of course FM go easily solves that issue.


      Also with a web based asp.net application there is no ongoing license costs for myself, just a windows hosted server that is pretty cost effective.


      I am just worried that I just not considering the users because I have learned a few things.


      1 - They don’t care! Half of them don’t even know they are using a web based product.

      2 - They will find a filemaker solution more friendly and responsive, let’s face it, I use outlook every day and would hate to use web based mail, calendar etc.

      3 - Quite often the browser needs updates, add-ons, security, compatibility mode etc. the browser still is a piece of software that needs installed so the nothing to install thing is getting over rated. I’m fed up trying to offer a one size fits all solution, I am of the opinion now that I should be saying to clients that this product needs you to buy these licenses and install this product on each users pc, if you don’t want to bother then I’m sorry I can’t help you. I.T departments sometimes don’t want to be bothered installing things for their users but that’s not a good reason to provide a less functional product.

      Has anyone came across a similar dilemma?


      PS, I realise I am asking this on a filemaker forum, it’s still the best place for me to hear opinions from people who have dabbled in other technologies too.

      Also filemaker web direct while promising is NOT an option at the moment for this product.



        • 1. Re: best decision for the user...

          "... the nothing to install thing is getting over rated."




          I've been screaming this from the rooftops for some time (to little avail) as corporate IT managers think they've solved all their problems by moving like zombified lemmings towards web-based solutions for everything. Especially when you consider the downsides (some of which you touched on):


          1) Not every browser behaves like every other browser, so any application you write has to be cross-tested against not only the major browsers, but against the conceivable versions your user base might be employing (which dramatically increases your testing budget).


          1a) No browser 100% implements the W3C specification (although they're getting better), so unless you stick with very simple stuff, you're likely to have to put in browser-specific hacks to make it work right, or restrict the user base to a few known-to-work browsers.


          2) Browsers still have to be installed on every computer - and patched for inevitable security issues.


          3) Speaking of security, since it's the Web, you inevitably have to deal with hacks and attacks that dedicated clients (like FileMaker) just don't have to deal with. Or at least the risk is greatly reduced.


          4) As you mention, you're losing out on a significantly richer, more robust user experience (and often more responsive as well).


          In exchange you get ... not having to pay for the client. Meh. To me, at least, it's a false trade. You're just trading one set of problems for a different set. Our company is currently going through some enormous issues trying to get IE 11 on line because of the security issues with IE 8 that just recently came out (we're not exactly what you would call early adopters).  


          Does the web have its place? Sure; you wouldn't be able to run, say, an ecommerce company without it. But that doesn't mean it's the fix-all for a client-server architecture.


          So, in short ... I agree with you. Just package the FileMaker licenses as part of your overall cost. Between the shortened development time and the improved user experience, your customers will come out cheaper and happier.


          This is my opinion, and most people would say it's worth exactly what you paid for it.   



          • 2. Re: best decision for the user...

            Hi to both of you.


            For years I have been hating Web applications . Ok, sometimes it fills the job. But when you come across function-rich applications, it's plainly a pain. At this time, a Web application I like is Outlook.com... much better that gmail - I can't stand gmail interface anymore . But guess what I prefer between Outlook PC application and Outlook.com ?


            Web application everywhere is foolish. I remember way back when some seen Java as the way to code once for any platform. Corel has a project where Wordperfect would be done in Java... the project was scrapped.


            So back to our discussion. Thanks malachydevlin for bringing to us your concerns about to Web or not. And thanks to Mike for putting in the shortcomings of (some) Web apps .

            • 3. Re: best decision for the user...
              Stephen Huston

              And don't even mention printing and reports.


              WebDirect seems to be great for simple data entry and dashboard-like screen summaries, but it's a bit short in its support for saved-output options.