9 Replies Latest reply on Apr 17, 2015 5:13 AM by wimdecorte

    Open Server Based File


      Can Filemaker open a file that sites on a remote server but is not hosted by FileMaker or FMS? The file sits on a web hosting provider. So I cannot open their ports nor can I run Filemaker from there. So the file just sits on an accessible directory. I want to have a variety of remote FileMaker users open the file and do a small update. Never multi-user. Just access, update and exit. (Excel does this easily bu putting the file URL in the Open Dialog box and it opens the file.) FileMaker does not seem to allow this - the Open URL command just gets the file and downloads it. Any other method seems to require FM to host the file.

        • 1. Re: Open Server Based File

          Short answer: Yes, you can do this.


          Longer answer: It's a REALLY bad idea.


          Explanation: Because of FileMaker's peer-to-peer capabilities, any FM client that opens a database automatically becomes the host of that file in a peer-to-peer sense. It essentially "takes over" as a sort of mini-server. In this case, what you're talking about doing is having your server in one place, and your actual storage array in a completely different place, separated by network. Any interruption of power or network services - at either end - has the potential to corrupt the database. I receive calls on a weekly basis from users whose databases have been damaged because of attempting to do this - and we're on an intranet, not the open Internet.


          So while it's theoretically possible to set things up in this way, I would advise strongly against doing so.





          • 2. Re: Open Server Based File

            Thanks Mike

            So how is it done? I cannot seem to make it work.  My solution only runs scripts.   If I use "Open URL" in a script, it downloads the file versus opening it.  No other Open command (eg. Open Remote) seems to work. 


            I understand the corruption issue.  I need to access the file, update 3 fields and then close it.  It is all done via a script and so it is very fast.  The user has no control and cannot delay anything.  So the file shoould be open for less than 1/2 second.


            (I am trying to vaidate whether the user is using a version that we have licensed through a registration key of our own.  So it is just updating status on the remote file.)


            Any help would be appreciated.



            • 3. Re: Open Server Based File

              So what happens when 2 users try to access the file at the same time? Because, despite what you might think, it will happen (network latency being what it is, and eventually you'll be successful enough to sell enough licenses that two of them will collide). Suddenly, "single user" doesn't work any more and you have to decide: Fail safe or fail permissive? Does a failure mean the user gets cut off, or is he allowed to proceed anyway?


              But to answer your question, you have to set this up as a file share. Every user will have to have access and log in via either directory access (e.g., Active Directory) or through some other scheme. How will you manage the accounts? I'm not exactly an expert on such things, but the scheme you're suggesting is simply asking for trouble. (And trouble is very accommodating and polite: It always accepts an invitation.)   


              My advice (and it's worth what you paid for it): If you want to set something like this up, contract with a hosting service to host your file. It'll cost you maybe $15 - $30 a month, and you won't create headaches for yourself. Then all you have to do is use Open URL and your scheme will work.


              (BTW: If all you want to do is validate that the user's version is licensed, it shouldn't be necessary to write anything to the hosted file. All you should have to do is check the version the user has against the licensed versions, right? Reason: For security purposes, you can just use a "read only" account rather than having to open it up to write. You could even use a web page to query it. Just suggestions.)



              • 4. Re: Open Server Based File

                Why not download, update, and upload?



                • 5. Re: Open Server Based File

                  There could be network issues that could delay the return and the update.  So this would cause inconsistent data in the stored file.




                  It surprises me that such a basic thing cannot be done in FM. 






                  Maestro Development Inc.





                  • 6. Re: Open Server Based File

                    Is there a reason you don't use one of the FileMaker Hosting companies?

                    • 7. Re: Open Server Based File

                      Nobody said it couldn't be done. But what you're trying to do is very dangerous for data integrity. FileMaker is not a document-writing application; it's a database, with very specific requirements on how data should be transmitted, stored, and updated.


                      My advice is based on the number of people calling me with damaged databases who want to do a "basic thing" and avoid doing it right. You can protect your data, or put it at risk. Your choice.

                      • 8. Re: Open Server Based File

                        You write:

                        It surprises me that such a basic thing cannot be done in FM.

                        But it can be done, I do not understand who gave you an impression that it could not be done. There are many ways:

                        1. If you want to test you can use your FileMaker Pro as a miniserver while developing. Or via your FileMaker Developer or FBA membership you can get access to a FileMaker testserver (limited to a few concurrent connections and FMP logons).
                        2. Have the file hosted at a FileMaker Server at a hosting provider.
                        3. If you do not have your own server available and if you do not want to use a hosting provider you can set up a VM Windows Server via Azure or other services and install FileMaker server there.


                        Do not ever, not ever, access the file placed on a file server. Trust Mike and FileMaker Inc's warnings about this. Also forget about using Dropbox or Google Drive and other solutions.

                        • 9. Re: Open Server Based File

                          maestrodevelopment wrote:


                          It surprises me that such a basic thing cannot be done in FM.



                          It's not a basic thing; it's a very dangerous thing.  The whole point is that when you want multiple users to use one central file, then you host it.


                          Despite what you are saying about no-multiuser use, the fact is that you can not prevent it and it will cause damage when it happens through a non-FM file sharing method.