FileMaker 12 and SuperContainer: A comparison
Of all of the new features in the recently released FileMaker 12, one of the most significant is the inclusion of enhanced container fields with managed storage. These enhanced container fields offer users a simple solution to store container assets outside of the database file in order to avoid increasing the size of the database file itself.
Solving this issue was the driving force behind the development of 360Works' SuperContainer, a server application that leverages FileMaker's Web Viewer to manage digital assets from your FileMaker interface.
In this article we'll compare the unique features of both FileMaker Enhanced Container Fields and SuperContainer so that you can make an informed decision for your solution.
FileMaker and SuperContainer BOTH offer
Small files sizes- Both FM 12 and SuperContainer allow you to manage assets without increasing the size of your FileMaker file. This ensures that your file is still fast, clean, and portable.
Thumbnail generation- Both FileMaker 12 and SuperContainer can generate network-efficient thumbnails. This means that for image files, the container fields will generate a thumbnail of the image, while interactive files, like .mp3 or .mov, have the option of immediate streaming playback. This can help to optimize database speed as the images and files are progressively streamed to users from the server, rather than waiting for the entire file to download. Note that when using SSL encryption, only SuperContainer supports streaming - FileMaker Server does not. Also note that for thumbnail generation of PDF files, SuperContainer must be deployed on a Mac OS X sever.
Interactive content- Both FileMaker 12 and SuperContainer can store static and interactive media, allowing you to read through the pages of a PDF document, playback audio or video files, or view thumbnails of image files - all from within the container field.
Easily move, copy, or upload existing files- Both FileMaker 12 and SuperContainer allow users to easily manage their assets, giving the ability to move files to new directories, copy files to new locations, and easily upload existing container field contents.
User interface control- FileMaker 12 and SuperContainer both give you control over the look and feel of your layout objects, including displaying titles, metadata, playback functions, upload, download, or delete functions, and thumbnail size.
Drag and drop- FileMaker 12 and SuperContainer both allow users to drag and drop files into fields
FileMaker 12 Unique Features
Encrypted File Storage- FileMaker's enhanced containers offer enhanced security settings for assets stored externally using the Secure Storage option. This encrypts files (AES-128) to be readable only by FileMaker Pro and distributes the files across numerous subdirectories within your base directory. SuperContainer only offers encryption during transfer, not in a stored state.
Upload from FileMaker Go- While both FileMaker 12 and SuperContainer work well for read-only mode in FileMaker Go, only FileMaker 12 container fields support uploading from the camera or photo library in FileMaker Go.
Single user support- FileMaker 12 runs well in single user mode. SuperContainer requires the application to be installed and running on a server computer.
SuperContainer Unique Features
Store files anywhere- SuperContainer allows you to easily set a base directory where your files will be stored. This can be located anywhere on the computer where SuperContainer is running, or even on a network storage volume. FileMaker Server 12 always stores files inside the FileMaker Server data directory (FileMaker Pro, not running in Server, allows you to set any base directory).
Deploy on any computer- SuperContainer can be deployed either on the same computer as FileMaker Server, or on a separate dedicated storage server. With FileMaker 12, all files must be stored on the same computer as FileMaker Server.
Web File Uploads- SuperContainer allows users to easily upload files from their web browser, either by clicking an 'upload' button or by dragging and dropping files into their web browser. FileMaker 12 container fields are read-only on the web.
Encryption during transmission- SuperContainer offers SSL encryption when transferring files. FileMaker can optionally SSL encrypt while transferring files, but that requires all database content to also be SSL encrypted, and causes streaming support to be disabled.
Browser access- SuperContainer supports access to content from the web, independent of FileMaker web publishing. Since SuperContainer paths are just URLs, users can easily view assets in a web browser, and it is easy to use them in any web site. SuperContainer URLs can also be emailed and transferred separately from FileMaker record data.
PHP or Java compatibility- Only SuperContainer offers PHP and Java APIs for easy integration with non-FileMaker systems.
Compatible with legacy systems- SuperContainer is compatible with FileMaker 8.5 - 11. Meanwhile, enhanced containers are only available in FileMaker 12, and advanced features like streaming audio and video files requires FileMaker Server 12.
SuperContainer is available for purchase at360works.com/supercontainer. The Workgroup License ($195) includes a single server deployment for up to 10 users, while the Enterprise License ($695) allows a single server deployment and unlimited users plus support for FileMaker Server scheduled scripts and web publishing.
Located in metro Atlanta, 360Works, a FileMaker Platinum Business Alliance member, has been providing FileMaker-based solutions for 15 years. The company is a leading developer of both shrink-wrapped and custom database design solutions for clients such as NASA, Pixar, US Marines, Make-A-Wish foundation and others. The company is credited for its forward-thinking solutions, dedication and unparalleled client service.
The Staff, 360Works