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Chapter 24. Deploying and Extending FileMaker

Chapter 24. Deploying and Extending FileMaker

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FileMakerDeploymentOptions

OneofthestrengthsofFileMakeristhatasolutioncanbe

deployedinvariousways.Withthisflexibility,FileMakercanfit

manydifferentneeds,anditcanchangeandadaptasyour

organizationevolves.Thischapteroffersabriefoverviewofthe

waysaFileMakerdatabasecanbedeployed.Severalofthese

methodsarediscussedindepthintheirownchapterselsewhere

inthebook,butwebringthemalltogetherheretogiveyoua

broadviewofthedeploymentlandscape.Wealsogointodetail

hereonacoupleofspecificdeploymentpossibilities,those

surroundingthecreationofruntimesolutionsandtheuseof

plug-ins.

Yourdeploymentdecisionsdependonanumberoffactors.How

manyuserswillneedaccesstothedatabase?Wherearethey

located?Aretheyallonthesamelocalareanetwork?Doother

systemsorapplicationsneedaccesstothedata?Someofthe

deploymentdecisionsmayinvolveadditionalinvestmentin

hardware,orlearningnewskills.Somedeploymentoptions

dependonothers.There'snowaytodoCustomWeb

Publishing,forexample,withoutusingFileMakerServer

Advanced.Finally,mostofthedeploymentoptionsarenot

mutuallyexclusive.YoumighthavebothFileMakerProclients

andwebclientsaccessingthesamefileshostedbyFileMaker

Server.







SingleUser

Themostbasicwayofdeployingasolutionisasasingle-user

application.InanyorganizationthatusesalotofFileMaker,

therearelikelydozensorhundredsofsingle-userdatabases

scatteredoncomputersthroughouttheorganization.The

typicalsingle-usersolutionissomethingthataknowledge

workercookeduptomeetanadhocneed.Perhapsit'sa

databasefortheofficefootballpoolortokeeptrackofgifts

fromababyshower.Maybesomeoneneededatooltocleanup

theuglydatasentbyacustomer.Inmanycases,thecreatorof

suchadatabasecouldhavemettheneedwithanothertool,

suchasMicrosoftExcel,butchoseFileMakerProinstead

becauseofitssimplicityandattractiveuserinterface.

Single-usersolutionslikethesearetypicallynotwellplanned

out,norconstructedaccordingtorigorousdevelopment

standards.Thesedatabasesusuallygroworganically,havelittle

ornosecurity,andhavesparseoridiosyncraticuserinterfaces.

Single-userdatabasesaretypicallyadeveloper'sfirstforayinto

theworldofFileMaker;thesesolutionsfrequentlyexhibitthe

evolvingskillsofthecreator.

Thereareafewriskstobeawareofwithsingle-usersolutions.

First,it'sunlikelythatsuchsolutionshavebeenintegratedinto

arigorousbackupstrategy.Ifyou,orusersinyour

organization,storeimportantdatainorfulfillimportant

businessneedsthroughsingle-usersolutions,besureto

periodicallyburnabackuponCDorcopyittoanexternal

device,ortosomenetworkedvolumethatyou'resureisbeing

backeduponaperiodicschedule.

Anothercommonriskofsingle-userdeploymentsisthatthey

maynotbesuitableforevolutionintoworkgroup-or

organization-widesolutions.It'strivialtosharethefilespeerto-peer,ortomovethemtoaFileMakerServerforhosting,but



ifasolutionwasoriginallydesignedwithonlyasingleuserin

mind,youmayendupwithadifficult-to-maintainand/orfragile

solution.

Formoreinformationongoodmultiuserdesign,seeChapter11,

"DevelopingforMultiuserDeployment,"p.307.



Peer-to-PeerHosting

Peer-to-peerdeploymentenablesasmallnumberofworkersto

shareasolution,withoutthecostofsettingupandmaintaining

adedicatedserver.Youcanturnanysingle-usersolutionintoa

peer-to-peersolutionsimplybyturningonFileMakernetworking

andaddingthefmappextendedprivilegetooneormoreprivilege

sets.

Tolearnmoreaboutextendedprivileges,seeChapter12,

"ImplementingSecurity,"p.325.



Peer-to-peerdeploymentisoftenfoundinsmallorganizations

ordepartmentsinwhichonlyahandfulofusersneedaccessto

shareddata.Thedatabaseusuallyphysicallylivesonone

person'smachineoronafileserver.Thefirstpersontoopen

thefileisknownasthehost;otheruserswhoaccessitare

clients.Providedthattheyhaveproperprivilegesforthefile,

boththehostandclientscanmodifyfielddefinitions,access

privileges,scripts,andlayouts.Developmentteamstherefore

oftenusepeer-topeersharingduringconstructionoflarge

systems.

Severaloftherisksofsingle-userdeploymentsalsopertainto

peer-to-peerdeployments.Filesarelikelytobebackedup

sporadicallyratherthansystematically;developmentstandards

arefrequentlynonexistentornotenforced.Solutionsthatare

sharedpeer-to-peeroftenflyundertheradarofITdepartments

aswell,whichmightbeagoodorbadthingdependingonyour

perspective.It'sniceforyou,asthecreatororuserofa

system,tobeincontrolofyourownproject,butourexperience

isthatITdepartmentsgenerallypreferthatsharedsystemsbe

centrallycontrolledandmanaged.



Usingpeer-to-peersharing,youarerestrictedtosharingupto

10databaseswithuptofiveconcurrentusers.Ifyouneedto

expandbeyondtheseconstraints,youneedtouseFileMaker

Servertodeployyoursolution.



Caution

Becausethehostofapeer-to-peersharedsolutionis

auser'sworkstation,youmayfacestabilityand

performanceconcerns.Forinstance,theuser's

machinemaycrash,shemightneedtodisconnect

clientstoreboothermachine,orshemayperform

actionsinotherapplicationsthatcauseslowclient

performance.FileMakerServeristheremedytoall

theseproblems.







FileMakerServer

FileMakerServeristhecorrectdeploymentoptionformost

business-criticalsolutions.DatabaseshostedbyFileMaker

Serverarealwaysopen,andcanthereforebeaccessedby

guestswithoutconcernthatthehostisunavailable(whichisa

concernwithpeer-to-peersharing).FileMakerServerallows

accessforupto250concurrentFileMakerProclients.

FileMakerServeralsohasseveralbuilt-intoolstoaidwith

databaseadministration.Forinstance,youcan(andshould!)

scheduleregularbackups.Youcanalsodothingssuchas

disconnectidlegueststofreeupresourcesandenableclientsto

automaticallydownloadupdatesofplug-ins.Dataexchanged

betweenFileMakerServerandclientscanbeencryptedwith

SSL,makingFileMakerServerasecuredeploymentoptionas

well.

FormoreinformationontheseandotherfeaturesofFileMakerServer,

seeChapter25,"FileMakerServerandServerAdvanced,"p.779.



TheconnectionbetweenFileMakerServerandFileMakerPro

clientsisnetworkintensive,sothisdeploymentoptionismost

appropriatewhenalltheclientsareconnectedtotheservervia

afastlocalareanetwork(LAN).Wideareanetwork(WAN)

clientconnectionsarepossible,butperformancemaynotbe

sufficienttomeetusers'needsandexpectations.Incasesin

whichremoteusersneedaccesstoyourFileMakerdata,you

mayneedtoconsiderwebpublishing,orusingaremoteaccess

toolsuchasCitrix/TerminalServices(discussedlaterinthis

chapter)aspartofyourdeploymentstrategy.







WebPublishing

AFileMakerdatabasecanbedeployedtowebusersinseveral

ways.OnemethodistosimplyexportdataaseitherHTMLor

XMLsothatitcanbestaticallyaccessedthroughawebserver.

Fordynamicinteractionwithyourdatabase,thedeployment

optionsareInstantWebPublishing(IWP)andCustomWeb

Publishing(CWP).

BothFileMakerProclientandFileMakerServerAdvancedcan

provideaccesstodatabasesviaIWP.FileMakerProsupportsup

to5concurrentIWPconnections;FileMakerServerAdvanced

supportsupto100.Inbothcases,setupisstraightforward.

WithIWP,yourexistingFileMakerlayoutsaredynamically

renderedaswebpages.Mostscriptswillfunctioncorrectlyas

well,meaningthatdesigningasolutionforIWPdeployment

requiresnowebprogrammingskills.Becauseofthebrowser

restrictionsforusingIWP,wedon'trecommendusingIWPfor

publicwebsites.It'samoreproperdeploymentoptionfor

remoteuserswhowouldotherwisebeconnectingtoyour

databasesviaaslowFileMakerProclientconnection.

FormoreinformationonInstantWebPublishing,seeChapter21,

"InstantWebPublishing,"p.633.



CustomWebPublishingisanappropriatedeploymentoption

whenyouneedtointegrateFileMakerdataintoanexisting

website,toprovideFileMakerdatatootherapplicationsinthe

mannerofawebservice,orwhenyousimplyrequiremore

flexibilitythanIWPaffords.CWPrequiresthatadatabasebe

hostedbyFileMakerServerAdvanced.Youmustalsosetupa

WebPublishingEngineandhaveasuitablewebserveravailable

(ApacheorInternetInformationServer).UsingCWP,

appropriatelyformattedHTTPrequestscanbeinterpretedby



theWebPublishingEngineandpassedontoFileMakerServer.

TheserverrespondstotheserequestsviaXML,whichcanbe

transformedintoHTMLwithanXSLstylesheetorsimplyparsed

bysomeothermiddlewareapplication.UnlikeIWP,CWP

requiressomeknowledgeandexperiencewithwebapplication

development.

FormoreinformationonCustomWebPublishing,seeChapter23,

"CustomWebPublishing,"p.699.FormoreinformationonWeb

Services,seeChapter22,"FileMakerandWebServices,"p.699.







ODBC/JDBC

ODBC(whichstandsforOpenDatabaseConnectivity)andJDBC

arestandardsthatweredevelopedtofacilitatedataexchange

betweendisparatedatasources.FileMakercanaccessremote

dataviaODBC/JDBC(sometimesreferredtojointlyby

FileMakeras"xDBC"),anditcanactalsoasanODBC/JDBC

datasourceforotherapplications.Thelatterisadeployment

optionyoushouldconsiderifyouneedyourFileMakerdatato

feedotherapplicationsinyourorganization.



Tip

ODBCandJDBCarestandards,notlanguagesor

applications.Differentapplicationsarecompliant

withthesestandardstovaryingdegrees.SQL

(StructuredQueryLanguage)isthelanguageused

toexchangedataviaODBC/JDBC.Theterm"xDBC"

isusedforconvenienceintheFileMaker

documentationtorefertobothtechnologiesjointly.



TomakeFileMakerdataavailableviaxDBC,youmustbeusing

theWindowsversionofFileMakerProorFileMakerServer

Advanced.ConfiguringadatabasetobeaccessibleviaxDBCis

similartoconfiguringittobeaccessibleviatheWeb:Youneed

toaddthefmxdbcextendedprivilegetooneormoreprivilege

sets,andyouneedtoturnonODBC/JDBCsharing.Afterdoing

this,youneedtosetupdatasourcenames(DSNs)forother

applicationstousewhenaccessingyourFileMakerdatabases.

Aftereverythinghasbeenconfiguredproperly,other

applicationscansendSQLqueriestoFileMaker.



YoumightwanttoconsiderxDBCaspartofyourdeployment

strategyformanyreasons.Forinstance,youmightsetup

reporttemplatesandchartsinMicrosoftExcelthatpulldata

fromFileMakerviaODBC.Similarly,youcandesignJavaapplets

thatinteractwithFileMakerdatabasesviaJDBC.Otherpotential

usesincludeintegrationwithJSPpages,ASPorASP.NETpages,

andquerytools.

FormoreinformationonusingODBC/JDBCwithFileMaker,seeChapter

20,"ExportingDatafromFileMaker,"p.595,andChapter19,

"ImportingDataintoFileMakerPro,"p.567.



Citrix/TerminalServices

Asdiscussedpreviously,theconnectionbetweenFileMaker

ServerandFileMakerProclientsisnetworkintensive.Users

outsideyourlocalareanetworkmaynotfindclient/server

performancetobesatisfactoryfortheirneeds.

Onesolutiontotheremoteuserdeploymentdilemmaistouse

remoteaccesssoftware,suchasCitrixandTerminalServices.

Thehardwareandsoftwarelicensingcostsforsuchasolution

arenotinconsequential,butneitheraretheperformance

benefitsitprovides.Remoteusersestablishanetwork

connectiontotheCitrix/TerminalServicesserver,whichinturn

opensaFileMakerProclientconnectiontoFileMakerServer.The

onlydataflowingbetweentheremoteuserandtheCitrixserver

arescreenrefreshinformation,keystrokes,andmouseclicks.

BecausetheCitrixserverandtheFileMakerServerarelocated

onthesamelocalareanetwork,theclientperformanceis

outstanding.



Tip

Thereareseverallessexpensiveremoteaccess

optionsyoumaywanttoconsider,including

Timbuktu,PCAnywhere,andgotomypc.com.These

don'tofferallthefeaturesofCitrix/Terminal

Services,suchaslocalprintermapping,nordothey

allowformultipleconcurrentremoteconnections.On

abudget,though,orfortheoccasionalremote

accessneed,theseareexcellenttools.



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Chapter 24. Deploying and Extending FileMaker

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