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gammada

Is FM10 Advanced for me?

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gammada

Hello folks, I need to ask for your advice in order to decide what software should I buy and if FM is the proper solution for my needs.

 

I need to build a db that needs to have several 'runtime modules' in order for users to capture information on them but I need this info to reside on a central location because I need this modules to interact among them and also because I need to export this info to a buz intel solution and to the web. I pretend that cental location to be a machine on the network which will have a full FM installation.

 

My questions are:

1. Am I able to access and share information between runtime modules?

2. Can I use only one FM to handle all the data captured by this modules?

3. What do I need in order to have access to my DB over the web?

4. Can I upload this DB to a server with MySQL?

 

I've been using FM sporadically since about version 3 or 4 but am not a pro or anything remotely approaching that. Once upon a time I did a complete db solution for a client using FM 5 Developer Edition and that's about as far as I've gotten using it.

 

I appreciate all of your comments and suggestions beforehand.

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Maarten Witberg

Runtimes are standalone only. If you want networking capability, you're going to need Filemaker Server or Server Advanced (in limited setup, under ten concurrent users, you can make do with Filemaker Pro as host). Then for every workstation you need either a version of filemaker pro (smooth sailing), instant web publishing (easy to set up, somewhat limited in capabilities) or custom web publishing (requires web development skills). Take your pick!

If you are going to do any serious developing, the extra tools in Filemaker Advanced are a great asset, I'd advise it to anyone as must-have.

 

Filemaker db's can communicate with mysql data sources using ODBC. I'm not really at home in that department.

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kirkrr
I need to build a db that needs to have several 'runtime modules' in order for users to capture information on them but I need this info to reside on a central location because I need this modules to interact among them and also because I need to export this info to a buz intel solution and to the web. I pretend that cental location to be a machine on the network which will have a full FM installation.

 

My questions are:

1. Am I able to access and share information between runtime modules?

2. Can I use only one FM to handle all the data captured by this modules?

3. What do I need in order to have access to my DB over the web?

4. Can I upload this DB to a server with MySQL?

 

I have a client who is a non-profit, mostly volunteer organization - read: very little budget. They needed to do something like what you are asking, if I am understanding you correctly.

 

I created 2 nearly identical programs - one as a normal Filemaker program with full functionality, and another as a compiled, stand-alone runtime.

The runtimes were placed on a bunch of desktops and laptops.

Each runtime has a unique serial number, set after installation (to ID where the data came from).

Each runtime has NO printing enabled, forcing the data to be moved to the "server"

Each runtime has an EXPORT function, that puts out a file.

Each runtime has the license management counter disabled, allowing unlimited use.

 

The one FM copy has an IMPORT routine that receives the data from each of the runtimes, manually moving exported files over "sneakernet" or, if connected, LAN, or even email.

 

The FM copy has full print, and, as a virtue of being a single repository for data, consolidated reporting capabilities (as well as license management for the # of records, in this case, 1 record = 1 mental health assessments).

 

In this way, the client only had to pop for one $300 copy of Filemaker Pro, and has 15 people providing data input from "crippled", but royalty free, runtimes. They could have captured the data with Excel or another database, but not had the reporting features that were in the program, as conveniently.

 

It is mandatory to have FM Adv to compile a runtime; it is nearly mandatory to do development with FM Adv, as manually creating break points, placing temporary fields on the screen to track program execution, and all those other myriad of workarounds to cope with not having FM Adv functionality, grows old very, very quickly. I don't know what your time is worth, but the ROI on a developer popping for FM Adv is measured in hours, and not in days.

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Maarten Witberg
I need this modules to interact among them

You're going to have a handful managing all the import and export routines to do that using runtimes and a central, non-networked, fm database. IIUC Kirkrr's idea is based on one way traffic, i.e. runtimes for gathering data and then posting them to the central database.

If you want to go low-budget, i'd say take the IWP (instant web publishing) route. Admittedly you need fm server for that for any serious workload plus one license of FM Advanced.

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kirkrr

Good point! My runtime solution is indeed one way AND FRAUGHT WITH PERIL, with these files floating around in the ether. It is a kluge, but common among the financially challenged. smiley-wink

 

Part of the reason was the FM code was originally written for stand-alone operation. It was quicker (read: cheaper) to get the export-import stuff running - a simple effort, than to do all the painful conversion to IWP. I am going through that now, as other clients of the same program, want to be somewhat more "sophisticated".

 

If I had done the work from the beginning with the end game of IWP, I would not be in the world of hurt right now in creating workarounds for both documented and undocumented IWP limitations - fun, fun. smiley-undecided

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kirkrr

If you want to go low-budget, i'd say take the IWP (instant web publishing) route. Admittedly you need fm server for that for any serious workload plus one license of FM Advanced.

 

FM Server ($1000, no IWP) ADVANCED ( $3k to get IWP) - or about $1600 Academic, if you (to buy) and your application (to meet FM licensing restrictions) qualifies.

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Maarten Witberg

you can serve up to 5 concurrent IWP clients using filemaker pro ($300). I have no idea how this performs.

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gammada

First off, heartfelt thanks for all your prompt and helpful replies.

 

OK, so let me see if I got this straight:

 

I'm thinking that my best course of action will be to buy one FM Server license and another FM Advanced to create the runtimes. However, I'm wondering if those runtimes can connect over a LAN to the server to save and retrieve data from its database?

 

Also, I need this solution to work in a mixed PC/ Mac environment in which FM server will be installed in an otherwise typical computer, is this feasible? Do I need to buy yet another license for FM Advanced or Server?

 

I know I sound pretty naive but I really need as much info as possible before committing to a db platform. My client is also a non-profit but unfortunately half of their original budget got stolen by a "programmer" that only left behind a batch of non-operating php/mysql files. Also, he consumed 5 out of 6 months that were considered for dev/ deployment so as you can see am going to need all the info and help you could provide me.

 

I thought of FM because I've done pretty good db's in the past in a very short time. Also, because its got many functions that would greatly help my client achieve the desired results.

 

Again, thank you very much!

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kirkrr
I'm thinking that my best course of action will be to buy one FM Server license and another FM Advanced to create the runtimes. However, I'm wondering if those runtimes can connect over a LAN to the server to save and retrieve data from its database?

 

Also, I need this solution to work in a mixed PC/ Mac environment in which FM server will be installed in an otherwise typical computer, is this feasible? Do I need to buy yet another license for FM Advanced or Server?

 

FM Pro - single user $300

FM Pro Advanced - $500 single user, with additional development tools and the ability to create SINGLE USER stand alone runtimes.

 

5 peer-to-peer users total, FM or IWP access.

 

The code I write is on a Mac using FM Adv, test it with FM remote on a PC, a browser on a PC (IWP) and a local IP (127.0.0.1) on the Mac, all concurrently.

 

FM Server - $1k - FM Pro/adv clients ONLY

FM Server Advance $3k - FM Pro/Adv AND Instant Web Publishing clients (100 Max)

 

Mac or PC, does not matter. Runtimes are compiled to be platform specific, BUT they can ONLY be single user - no DB sharing; with, as I understand it, one exception; a runtime can be placed and server and the content accessed from FM clients. Advantage??

 

SO, the answer is NO, runtimes cannot connect to the server.

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Maarten Witberg
Also, he consumed 5 out of 6 months that were considered for dev/ deployment so as you can see am going to need all the info and help you could provide me.

so basically they're asking you to create and roll out a fully functional database from scratch in one month and with no budget? I think you should be managing their expectations carefully. To paraphrase David Head: non-profits are businesses too and they should be aware that the good stuff costs money. You speak of them as your client so I am assuming this isn't volunteer work for you. But even if you work for free: work on a realistic time budget. Both in hours to spend and weeks-before-rollout.

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gammada
so basically they're asking you to create and roll out a fully functional database from scratch in one month and with no budget? I think you should be managing their expectations carefully. To paraphrase David Head: non-profits are businesses too and they should be aware that the good stuff costs money. You speak of them as your client so I am assuming this isn't volunteer work for you. But even if you work for free: work on a realistic time budget. Both in hours to spend and weeks-before-rollout.

 

I'm working for free (I always refer to all projects as clients because I take the same approach regarding budgets, delivery time and quality with volunteer work as I do with my paying clients ;o) but I've managed to explain them that this is going to take more time than they had planned.

 

Also, I'm starting to develop this using the idea of several FM Pro licenses and FM Server to publish to the internet using PHP/ MySQL. I'll keep everyone updated on my progress.

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kirkrr
I'm starting to develop this using the idea of several FM Pro licenses and FM Server to publish to the internet using PHP/ MySQL.

 

This is something that I have not taken the time to get my head around. It sounds, at least on the surface, as redundant, unless some of the advanced GUI or relationship graph stuff of FM is part of the equation.

 

I do a lot with the somewhat lacking IWP environment, but what does it take to move to FM development to a MySQL/PHP using Filemaker somehow in the mix?

 

I've done PHP/MySQL stuff, sans Filemaker - what benefit does FM bring?

 

What am I missing??

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Josh Ormond

Because you can use FM to directly access and alter the data in MySQL, it isn't redundant at all. Granted, there are a few minor limitations with using an External Data Source (ESS)...but it's doable.

 

We have part of our website driven from PHP and MySQL. We aren't using the Custom Web Publishing that comes with FM Server, because we didn't have the budget for it. But the solution for taking our Classified Ads is in FM and then imported into MySQL using a FM layout showing data from MySQL.

 

Here is the website if you want to check it out. The entire site was built with Dreamweaver, a MySQL backend, and FM.

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kirkrr
Because you can use FM to directly access and alter the data in MySQL, it isn't redundant at all. Granted, there are a few minor limitations with using an External Data Source (ESS)...but it's doable.

 

We have part of our website driven from PHP and MySQL. We aren't using the Custom Web Publishing that comes with FM Server, because we didn't have the budget for it. But the solution for taking our Classified Ads is in FM and then imported into MySQL using a FM layout showing data from MySQL.

 

Here is the website if you want to check it out. The entire site was built with Dreamweaver, a MySQL backend, and FM.

 

I understand that you can connect to other back end databases with FM.

I would assume that you lose the power of table occurrences in the process??

What interface elements does FM provide vs. what is PHP?

Are all the FM gui/layout tools part of the equation, or must you code the human interface in a web editor, and incorporate PHP elements into that code?

 

IF, 1) you are using an external database, and 2) you have to code the PHP in a web editor to create the human interface elements, what, pray tell, is Filemaker doing in that equation, if anything??

 

THAT is the essence of what I don't understand in the FM-PHP approach. Harry Thinking!

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Josh Ormond
THAT is the essence of what I don't understand in the FM-PHP approach
They are 2 different things.

 

1. FM and ESS

FM uses shadow tables to display the data from an external data source. Looking at FM, it works almost exactly like a native FM table. TO's and such all work the same. You create the relationships in the graph the same way...build the layouts the same...portals, etc.

 

When I refer to limitations, I was referring to the fact that fields can't be indexed...for most that just means you can't use a field's values for a Value List.

 

Here you interact with data stored in a table outside of FM...and FM is basically the front-end of a data separation model.

 

2. FM and PHP

The custom web publishing and PHP assistant is about feeding the data to a website, directly from FM. You basically use FM as the data source that drives the web site. Obviously, this is more complex and requires knowledge of PHP, and FM Server.

 

Here you build the interface as a Browser based GUI...using PHP coding to interact with FM data.

 

 

 

I think confusion sometimes comes in because many people will combine all of the above to create a site.

 

FM (Employee front-end) - SQL (data storage) - PHP (for web-site and customer interface)

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kirkrr

2. FM and PHP

The custom web publishing and PHP assistant is about feeding the data to a website, directly from FM. You basically use FM as the data source that drives the web site. Obviously, this is more complex and requires knowledge of PHP, and FM Server.

 

Here you build the interface as a Browser based GUI...using PHP coding to interact with FM data.

 

So, as I read this, the one and only benefit (and it is significant) is having the FM relationship graph with all the TO capabilities?

 

PHP / browser drives the entire human interface.

 

If you wanted to avoid the cost of FM Server (where CWP comes in), you could just use MySQL and PHP - is the only lost benefit the TOGs??

 

Having written lots of PHP code, FM is still way, way easier. But if all that FM scripting logic and human interface building is lost on the CWP aspect, what's the point??

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gammada
This is something that I have not taken the time to get my head around. It sounds, at least on the surface, as redundant, unless some of the advanced GUI or relationship graph stuff of FM is part of the equation.

 

I do a lot with the somewhat lacking IWP environment, but what does it take to move to FM development to a MySQL/PHP using Filemaker somehow in the mix?

 

I've done PHP/MySQL stuff, sans Filemaker - what benefit does FM bring?

 

What am I missing??

 

As I stated before, I really don't have that much experience with FM and zero with FM Server but you're right, this seems to be redundant and I also didn't manage to express myself clearly. What I'm going to do -if I ever get to install FM server on my XP machine which is giving me problems- is try the FM server route by installing the databases on a central server and access/ use them over the network using the IWP features of this version.

 

I wrote PHP/MySQL because I read somewhere that FM server has a publishing feature for this or something along the lines.

 

What do you think of this idea?

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Josh Ormond
the one and only benefit (and it is significant) is having the FM relationship graph with all the TO capabilities?

Are you referring to FM's ability to connect to ESS or use PHP for Custom Web Publishing.

 

If you wanted to avoid the cost of FM Server (where CWP comes in), you could just use MySQL and PHP - is the only lost benefit the TOGs??

 

Having written lots of PHP code, FM is still way, way easier. But if all that FM scripting logic and human interface building is lost on the CWP aspect, what's the point??

It's all about need...you can just use MySQL and PHP to drive a website, if you have the skills and software (which can itself be pricey) to develop the site. At the same time, as you know, there is more to it than just a website and it can be way easier to use a program like FM to overcome some of the limits of a web-driven interface, namely easy reporting, analzing of data to make business decisions.

 

Also, FMS will guide you through some of the steps of publishing your layouts to the web. Kinda like IWP, but wickely more powerful...and for someone like yourself, very customizable.

 

And I quote from FMI...

The PHP Site Assistant asks step-by-step questions to produce PHP-based web pages based on your FileMaker Pro layouts. Choose from some of the most popular Web uses, such as data collection, list searching, and database record editing. These pages can be published as is or edited using the html editor of your choice.
As for ESS, there are other benefits if you are talking about a company with multiple locations across the country, state, or city. You could host the data on a MySQL database (or FMS hosting service) on a remote server and have all your locations accessing the same data...bam!!! Scalability!!! You have to have good design or you end up with a painfully slow solution, but good design is important on any solution.

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Josh Ormond
As I stated before, I really don't have that much experience with FM and zero with FM Server but you're right, this seems to be redundant and I also didn't manage to express myself clearly. What I'm going to do -if I ever get to install FM server on my XP machine which is giving me problems- is try the FM server route by installing the databases on a central server and access/ use them over the network using the IWP features of this version.

 

I wrote PHP/MySQL because I read somewhere that FM server has a publishing feature for this or something along the lines.

 

What do you think of this idea?

 

If you have FM Server, the Custom Publishing is the way to go if you are going to use a browser-based interface and access the solution over the web. Especially because of the ability to trigger server-side scripts...eliminates many of the limitations with IWP and certain scripts not being compatible.

 

It isn't redundant at all. Not that you couldn't introduce redundancy...these are all simply more tools at your disposal. And what you use, will depend on what you need.

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macrylinda
I understand that you can connect to other back end databases with FM.

I would assume that you lose the power of table occurrences in the process??

What interface elements does FM provide vs. what is PHP?

Are all the FM gui/layout tools part of the equation, or must you code the human interface in a web editor, and incorporate PHP elements into that code?

 

IF, 1) you are using an external database, and 2) you have to code the PHP in a web editor to create the human interface elements, what, pray tell, is Filemaker doing in that equation, if anything??

 

THAT is the essence of what I don't understand in the FM-PHP approach. Harry Thinking!

Because you can use FM to directly access and alter the data in MySQL, it isn't redundant at all. Granted, there are a few minor limitations with using an External Data Source (ESS)...but it's doable.

 

We have part of our website driven from PHP and MySQL. We aren't using the Custom Web Publishing that comes with FM Server, because we didn't have the budget for it. But the solution for taking our Classified Ads is in FM and then imported into MySQL using a FM layout showing data from MySQL.

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Josh Ormond

The FileMaker/PHP approach is all about need and end goal. Many will use both to accomplish what they need.

 

A typical, but not exclusive, scenario. Employees enter products and pricing (and orders) into FileMaker. Customers place orders and view the product catalog on the company's website. Employees can process the orders via FileMaker. Etc....

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