13 Replies Latest reply on Dec 4, 2014 3:36 PM by ibrahim_bittar

    Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?

    hugall1998

      Hi all

      After searching the forum and finding nothing definite on the subject I would greatly appreciate advice from you, more experienced, users.

       

      My setup is as follows:

      My computer environment is windows 7. My company is a large one and all hardware is fully optimized.

      Currently I run a FM 11 file (a rather large and complicated one, ca 100 mb) on a FM 11 server that resides on a dedicated server. The users (overseas) connect via remote desktop connection to the remote desktop (that resides on its own separate server), fire up a FM pro 11 client that connects (via open remote) to the FM 11 server.

      I need to increase the number of FM pro licences on the remote desktop machine as the number of users will increase in the next couple of month (more sites are added to the project). As the FM pro 11 is no longer supported I must buy FM pro 13.

      Filemakers licencing structure makes this renewing rather expensive. For the adequate number of new FM pro 13, 1x FM pro 13 advanced and 1x FM pro 13 server the costs goes through the roof so to speak.

       

      So, my idea was to bypass the upgrading of the FM pro clients on the remote desktop, upgrade only the FM pro server + 1x Fm pro advanced and set up my file using WebDirect instead the remote desktop connection. I guess this would also save me the costs of the remote desktop server machine.

       

      My questions are as follows:

      a) Is this a good idea at all? I‘m mostly thinking in terms of speed for the user (overseas).

       

      b) If this is a viable option, can anyone who has gone this path already give me some advice on what pitfalls to avoid and what things to focus on? (for example, I found posts on the forum detailing that when using WebDirect it may be neccessary to rewrite the file from scratch in FM 13 native theme format to avoid speed problems, is this the reality? Will be quite a job for me :-)

       

      many thanks for you advice

       

      Larus Jon.

        • 1. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
          DavidJondreau

          I doubt it but it's hard to really say without knowing how many users you're talking about and the specs of the current machine.

           

          Keep in mind WebDirect doesn't handle large numbers of simultaneous users well, especially not without a primo machine. You will likely have to upgrade the current server to handle the WD load. Also, you'll probably have to redesign layouts to get a similar speed. And some functions don't work on WebDirect.

           

          And the cost difference isn't that much. Per month, WD license costs $5 per user, a Pro license $7-10 per user. You won't need a license for every user for WD, just the max connected ones so that could reduce the WD cost, depening on how many employees access the system.

          • 2. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
            hugall1998

            David Jondrau, thanks for your reply.

             

            My FM server machine is a virtual server with ca 8 gig of memory and all hardware spec at top (according to my server guys).  The number of concurrent user may be up to 15.

             

            You mentioned drawbacks:

            - WebDirect doesn't handle large numbers of simultaneous users well

            - you'll probably have to redesign layouts to get a similar speed.

            - And some functions don't work on WebDirect.

             

            By redesigning the layouts, is it mostly removing icons/bitmaps or is the redesigning more extensive?

            What functions do not work in WebDirect that work in the remote desktop setup?

             

            Thanks again,

            Lárus Jón

             


            • 3. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
              mikebeargie

              DavidJondreau wrote:

               

              Keep in mind WebDirect doesn't handle large numbers of simultaneous users well

              Not necessarily true, I've load tested on a single AWS server with 25 simultaneous connections and had acceptable performance. I've heard of other's solutions as well performing as expected according to FM13's tech specs performance charts ( http://www.filemaker.com/products/filemaker-server/server-13-specifications.html ). 100mb isn't necessarily a large file, complexity is in the eye of the beholder but most solutions I've seen can be transitioned with smart planning. Also, remember that running a two-server deployment is optimal for WebDirect.

               

              As for recommendations, optimize your layouts and optimize your data before even attempting. You won't just see performance net gains when you use webdirect, but also in filemaker pro as well. You'll suffer from the same WAN performance issues that you already do from overseas users. I wouldn't say you need to write the file from scratch, but I know nothing about your file other than that it's in FM11 currently. You'll already be going through a file format conversion so you should already be planning to re-tool all of your layouts.

               

              You might want to start with a 5-pack of webdirect licenses and slowly transition users over to the new format. FMS13 can also be evaluated as a trial, so you can try out webdirect with a single seat for 30 days and run some "performance testing" to see what you're getting into.

               

              most of your pitfalls will come from the known limitations in appendix A of the guide:

              https://fmhelp.filemaker.com/docs/13/en/fm13_webdirect_guide.pdf

              • 4. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
                DavidJondreau

                I'd say 15 is middle of the road.

                 

                Functions that don't work well:

                Printing, Custom Menus, multiple windows.

                 

                How much redesigning depends on what your current layouts look like. Why not open up WebDirect and test it out?

                • 5. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
                  ibrahim_bittar

                  Hi Jon

                   

                  Take into account that WebDirect as a licensing cost as well.

                   

                  It's cheaper than regular FM licensing but it has a cost and i understand from your writing that you only plan to buy Filemaker Server and no instances of WebDirect.

                   

                  I'd suggest caution with this before shooting your own foot .

                  • 6. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
                    DavidJondreau

                    Well, it depends on the definition of "large". More than 50 for WebDirect is too much.

                     

                    Even 15 users means a second server just for web publishing. One that's at least as high quality as the machine the server is on.

                    • 7. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
                      wimdecorte

                      Mike Beargie wrote:

                       

                      DavidJondreau wrote:

                       

                      Keep in mind WebDirect doesn't handle large numbers of simultaneous users well

                      Not necessarily true,

                       

                      Remember that the OP expressed a clear reluctance to refactor his solution.

                      That is a huge red flag for performance and for that I would back David up on this.  Unless you explicitly and deliberately design your solution for WebD you will not get good performance.

                       

                      So let's not get the OP the wrong impression here.

                      • 8. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
                        hugall1998

                        Thank you all for you input, David Jondrau, Mike Beargie, wimdecorte and Ibrahim Bittar.

                         

                        The list of issues is growing, I‘m listing this up for my own clearer understanding and perhaps it may be of use for the next searcher.

                         

                        Number of users:

                        - WebDirect doesn't handle large numbers of simultaneous users well:   different opinions:

                        - „15 users is middle of the road“

                        - „Not necessarily true, I've load tested on a single AWS server with 25 simultaneous connections and had acceptable performance“ Also, remember that running a two-server deployment is optimal for WebDirect.

                        - Well, it depends on the definition of "large". More than 50 for WebDirect is too much

                        Even 15 users means a second server just for web publishing. One that's at least as high quality as the machine the server is on.

                        Redesign:

                        - you'll probably have to redesign layouts to get a similar speed

                         

                        Functions:

                        - And some functions don't work on WebDirect, i.e. Printing, Custom Menus, multiple windows

                         

                        Cost:

                        - licencing costs:  „Take into account that WebDirect as a licensing cost as well. It's cheaper than regular FM licensing but it has a cost...“ [if] „... you only plan to buy Filemaker Server and no instances of WebDirect.

                         

                        Execution:

                        Recommended execution:

                        - You might want to start with a 5-pack of webdirect licenses and slowly transition users over to the new format.

                         

                        Useful reading:

                        - https://fmhelp.filemaker.com/docs/13/en/fm13_webdirect_guide.pdf 

                        - most of your pitfalls will come from the known limitations in appendix A of this guide

                        - additionally, see pages 10-11, chapter 2: steps 1,2,3,5, and 8, chapter 5 (testing). Appendix A sums this all up nicely.

                        http://www.filemaker.com/products/filemaker-server/server-13-specifications.html

                        https://fmhelp.filemaker.com/docs/13/en/fms13_getting_started.pdf. See Chapter 3 (page 22-25) about the difference between one machine/two machine setup, and chapter 8 (page 73) on selecting the hardware.

                         

                        My conclusion?

                        I read the pdf (above list of useful reading) and to be honest, when combining the info there to your valuable advise and insights, my initial enthusiasm for going the web way has somewhat waned.   Ibrahim Bittar suggested caution and David Jondrau recommended trying the FM trial version.  Also the costs are ambigious, I'll most probably need a two machine setup for the web and FM server so little is gained there from my current remote desktop/FM server setup + the licence costs.   I also will have to redesign my solution from scratch, that I have learned from the pdfs (web direct guide) and at the moment that is a bit of an obstacle both timewise and potentially performance wise to my users. The project will not tolerate any delays that this transfer might cause.

                        So, to conclude, I guess I'll continue the remote desktop/FM server path, upgrade my FM clients and server and study in more detail the webdirect option for use in my next project.  As the FM server upgrade includes the webdirect option anyway I'll not lose any options but of course will have to dish out for the upgrade of the FM pro client licences... :-)

                         

                        Thanks again for you time and advice, I will continue to monitor this thread and other on the same topic.

                         

                        Lárus Jón

                        • 9. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
                          ibrahim_bittar

                          May be as a final note:

                           

                          I wouldn't use WebDirect for a complete FileMaker solution. I think the best approach is to take advantage of ALL FileMaker strenghts and use its different technologies to get over each other limitations.

                           

                          For example, my solution is 99% desktop based, however, there is a module where graphic designers had to record their time tracking and see information about job orders. A-La-Basecamp.

                           

                          We had a limitation in a 100% desktop setup because some designers where located outside the office and not always had plenty of bandwidth and on the other hand the customer was not willing to pay for a full license of our solution for a bunch of people who were going to use only one module.

                           

                          In this case WebDirect was the answer to my prayers because the customer didn't have to buy 15 full licenses. They bought 15 "light" licenses (basically the three 5-connection packs) instead, outside users would not have the problem of low bandwidth, I only spent 2-3 hours redesigning the specific layout the designers would use and everyone was happy.

                           

                          See these screenshots:

                           

                          Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 13.12.53.png

                          Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 13.13.00.png

                          Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 13.13.48.png

                          • 10. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
                            hugall1998

                            Thank you for this Ibrahim.

                            I hadn't thought of this combination, it was either or in my mind.  Two questions, how do you synchronize the input from the desktop and the webdirect layouts?  Is it possible to work on both layouts simultanously?

                            • 11. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
                              Stephen Huston

                              If you mean can you use FMPro and WebDirect at the same time, I would ask why. Ibrahim is talking about some clients not having FMPro, but WD providing the necessary access for their limited tasks. If a machine has FMPro installed, then that is the most capable client software to use for it all when on that machine. No benefit from using WD when Pro is available on the machine.

                              • 12. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
                                beverly

                                Two questions, how do you synchronize the input from the desktop and the webdirect layouts?  Is it possible to work on both layouts simultanously?

                                 

                                The desktop is a CLIENT. The WebDirect is a CLIENT. There wouldn't be a need for a user who has desktop FMPRO to be using WebDirect at the same time. However, if there are different users using either, the data will be input and all clients will see any input (depending on permissions, of course).

                                 

                                 

                                Beverly

                                • 13. Re: Goodbye to remote desktop, hello to WebDirect ?
                                  ibrahim_bittar

                                  Well, Stephen and Beverly already gave you a correct answer, so I'll answer directly:

                                   

                                  Two questions, how do you synchronize the input from the desktop and the webdirect layouts?

                                   

                                  No, because using WebDirect is like using FileMaker Pro. Any change made in WebDirect will be saved just like in pro, so they are automatically "synchronized".

                                   

                                  Is it possible to work on both layouts simultanously?


                                   

                                  Yes. I don't see why you should but yes, it can be done.

                                   

                                  I guess you're talking about having to design one single layout for both purposes. Though technically this is possible I wouldn't do it because WebDirect has some restraints that Pro doesn't so it can get messy trying to mix both of them.

                                   

                                  Ibrahim