4 Replies Latest reply on Aug 6, 2014 10:07 PM by dburnham

    How to create records using data sent from a monitoring device?


      I'm looking for a suggestion for how to implement something that will automatically create records in a server-hosted database.


      I am setting up a hosted database that will be "listening" for incoming information. I think it could perhaps be transmitted using SMS or email, or maybe there is a way for a URL to "hit" the database and create a record, if not with FileMaker natively, then perhaps using CWP and a web page that acts on the incoming URL.


      There will be some kind of monitoring device that periodically sends data. Think of it as a thermostat in your house that is programmed to send the current temperature every 15 minutes to the database, and thereby allow the database to use a series of records to display historical information, maybe as a graph, or to alert the homeowner to an emergency situation if the temperature rises or falls beyond certain pre-set values.


      I'm not sure yet what kind of monitoring devices will be used, but I know they will be capable of Internet communication. What little I know at this point is that they have flash drives inside them and they write data to an Excel file. Sending that file as an email attachment is certainly possible, but more overhead than I think is necessary if all that is needed is one record for each interval.


      Any ideas will be welcome.

        • 1. Re: How to create records using data sent from a monitoring device?

          You can always run a script to see if a field has been populated or call an API to get the results to see if something new is there.  Of you can use the TROI serial plugin to monitor a serial device and be triggered when a certain voltage level or whatever.  The key is to run a schedule script to run every so often say every 5 minutes or whatever increment is necessary.  I've monitored things through APIs such as when a piece of equipment moves from one job site to another one, etc. 

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: How to create records using data sent from a monitoring device?

            This is useful, Taylor, I have experience with Troi's plugins and know them to be dependable.


            But just to make sure you understand the situation:  let's say FileMaker Server is located in downtown Dallas, and the device being monitored is in Chicago.  Are you saying that the Troi serial plug in can make a remote call to a device over TCP/IP ? 

            • 3. Re: How to create records using data sent from a monitoring device?

              Wherever you are monitoring something, you have to have a sensor, you have to have the serial connection to the sensor, you have to have an application and an operating system.  And if you want this result to be seen elsewhere, you need a network (e.g., internet) to make that information available. 


              So, no, a Server in downtown Dallas cannot by itself monitor something in Chicago.  While I think the world of FileMaker, the reality is that most systems collecting data from a sensor, are not on FileMaker.  The universal way to make this information available to other systems is often through a web API.  The most common ways of talking to such systems is with an HTTP_POST or HTTP_Get, or you can use Inerst from URL sometimes.  Every API is unique and you have to learn how each one talks to collect information from that system.  Many APIs are well documents, some poorly, and some not at all.  So it can be very frustrating sometimes dealing with poorly documented APIs.  Regardless, this is the common method for sharing information such as weather, stock exchange data, currency valuations, etc.  I've personally used several APIs that geocode locations of equipment for mapping and accouting purposes. 


              What are you wanting to monitor?  Have you looked to see if there is a sensor system with an API to make that info available to FileMaker?


              By the way, getting info from API's is made much easier with Goya's free Beeswax plugin for FileMaker. 

              • 4. Re: How to create records using data sent from a monitoring device?

                Thanks.   I am not 100% aware yet about the details of what will be monitored.   All I know at this point is that there is something writing an Excel file to a flash drive.  Is there an operating system?  Maybe.  Will there be broadband full-time Internet access?  Not necessarily, but there may be DSL phone lines that could be used.  There may even be some kind of satellite or cell phone in some places. 


                Whether or not the sensors have an API that can make the info available to Filemaker is questionable.  I won't have that information for another week or so.  I've invited the client to come to our lunch on Friday so he can get more ideas about FileMaker capabilities, but it will be up to him to make sure that he installs the kind of monitoring equipment that can do the job.


                I've already told him that if his devices are capable of sending out an email message with the Excel file attached, I can make it work.  It isn't the most ideal way, but it would work.  I agree with you that HTTP POST or InsertfromURL would be more elegant solutions.  If his system can exectute a URL to a web page, I can deploy PHP to create the FMP record very easily.

                See you Friday