8 Replies Latest reply on Feb 10, 2010 6:45 AM by kapitaen_1

    $64K question.  Hoping for a solution!



      $64K question.  Hoping for a solution!


      I am a practicing CPA and a software developer (25 years).  I create solutions for the accounting professional (CPA's primarily) and most applications used by the accounting profession are inherently multi-client.  That is, each application is capable of maintaining data for multiple clients.  


      I have spent the last week or so taking a hard look at Filemaker Pro Advanced.  What I have found is very attractive, especially the interface and design elements.  I also like the built-in data binding.  


      However, I have been unable to determine if it is possible to create a solution that would allow the end-user maintain a separate database for each client that they want to maintain data for.  The way this would work is upon starting the application, they would either select an existing database (this could be the "template" database or one they have previously created) or create a new database based on the "template".  Basically, this is close to the way that Filemaker Pro Advanced starts up, except for the option to create a blank database.  Obviously, I don't need or want that one.  All I need is the 2nd two options - select an existing or create from template.


      This is very typically in accounting applications, such as, Quickbooks, Proseries (professional version of Turbotax that allows for multi-client processing), Peachtree, etc.


      Is there a way to create a runtime solution that allows for multi-client (multi-database) processing?  Keep in mind that it is not practical to put all clients in one database, because this would preclude the accountant from moving the database to his personal laptop and taking it to the field (client's office) with him.


      I have posted this question in another FM forum and someone suggested using a container field that would hold the template database, then copied and renamed whenever the user had to create a new database.  My unfamiliarity with FM makes me think this would be very complicated to implement so I'm just wondering if there is any other way to accomplish this. 

        • 1. Re: $64K question.  Hoping for a solution!

          There is the design that keeps the UI user interface in one database and the data in a separate database.

          This structure is used by developers that sell their database to muliple end users.

          I have attempted this, but never finished the design.

          I am sure someone will come along and provide more information. 

          • 2. Re: $64K question.  Hoping for a solution!



            I've had this mentioned a number of times, but no one has provided anything definitive regarding whether it would work or not.  But thanks for the reply.  I was beginning to think I was the only one on this forum. 

            • 3. Re: $64K question.  Hoping for a solution!

              Keeping separate sets of tables for each client can be as simple as making a copy of your database file(s) for each new client you take on. However, managing all the separate files may become a challenge.


              An alternative would be to keep all your clients' data in one file, but use access privileges to control who can see a given client's records within the data base. You don't have to down load a copy of this database to a lap top when going to see the client, if you can set your system up to link back to your database at the office. There are several ways to link to a remote filemaker site--publishing the database to the web--being one of them.

              • 4. Re: $64K question.  Hoping for a solution!

                Separate data files is an absolute must have.  


                I considered the 2nd suggestion you made, but this would require a copy of Filemaker Pro on the computer at the office for them to connect to remotely, and this would add to the cost.


                This really has to be a runtime solution if this is going to be viable. 

                • 5. Re: $64K question.  Hoping for a solution!

                  If you have all data in a single data file, you could structure your solution to have an initial layout simply ask for the Client ID. And further structure the solution (using the Relationship Graph) so that once that Client ID is chosen (from a dropdown menu on a field, for instance), the user will see all and only data for that particular client. Picking a Client ID from that initial layout is essentially picking from one or more  different databases, at least from the user's point of view.


                  However, if you really want a separate data file for each client, there's nothing stopping you from simply having a separate folder for each client, and then copying the blank database to each folder.

                  • 6. Re: $64K question.  Hoping for a solution!

                    hi jjfcpa,

                    you are talking about "partitioned database".


                    of course it is possible to make copies of your database, empty or completely filled or partly filled.


                    you can make an empty copy, then select in the original copy the data the new copy should have, and import this found set to the new empty copy.


                    making runtime versions is easy with the filemaker pro advanced, they dont´t need a installation of filemaker pro on each pc that goes localy.



                    the only problem would be to re-unite these local copyes. working with automatic serial number to give each record a worldwide unique identification can´t be done. or you have to set manual copy 1 to start with serial 1,000,000, the second copy start with 2,000,000 and so on, for every table in your database.

                    Better you use a randomly generated number or text string as unique identifier. to do this, you need filemaker version 1.03, on earlyer (1.02 and below) versions the random function does not work properly.


                    greetings from germany




                    ps.: did i win the $64k? i will use all lifelines (fifty fifty, ask the audience, phone a friend) !


                    • 7. Re: $64K question.  Hoping for a solution!
                         Sorry my friend.  I'm not just not sure whether anyone has one the bounty yet.  I need to take a closer look at it.  But thanks for your reply.  Hope your winter is milder than ours is.  It's been brutal this year.
                      • 8. Re: $64K question.  Hoping for a solution!

                        yep, our winter is brutal too. for german conditions. but it is nothing compared to the snomageddon in washington area. are you in washington area? so buy a dogsledding from the saved $64k ;-)


                        greetings from germany