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Richmilnix

FMP solution in browser

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Richmilnix    0

This is a wide open question without a correct answer. Maybe it will foster comments & suggestions.

Over several years, at another job in another state, I cobbled together a FileMaker solution that's now an essential part of the way that business operates. That project consists of several haphazard fixes and relationships held together with baling wire and chewing gum, because we kept ading functionality as it occurred to us, and because my skill level was changing as the project grew.

Now that I'm in my next life, I'm ready to start the project from scratch and try to license it as an off-the-shelf database to businesses in this line. I'm convinced that the right form for such a project is a browser interface.

So my question: is there such a thing as a solution, sitting on an FMS install, that's solely accessed (by its users) via a browser window - and doesn't feel clunky?

If I were a newborn, just wanting to make this project, I'd assume that the best thing was to learn PHP & Ruby & JavaScript. I'm not assuming FM is the best way just because it's what I know, but et cetera et cetera.

All input, as always, is welcome.

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Wim Decorte    446

http://www.filemaker.com/products/filemaker-server/webdirect.html

1 hour ago, Richmilnix said:

If I were a newborn, just wanting to make this project, I'd assume that the best thing was to learn PHP & Ruby & JavaScript.

 

PHP and Ruby are both server-side scripting languages so you typically wouldn't pick both.

FM has a native PHP API and also has an XML API that can be used in other web scripting languages.  In fact, many 'connectors' have been developed over the years like fmDotNet for .NET, Rfm for Ruby, pyMaker for Python,...

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Richmilnix    0

But - and I don't mean to be thick, though I may be - is there precedent for layouts, made using the native FMP interface, and accessed via WebDirect - as the main method of accessing the db interface? Are people making that? The last time I was neck-deep in this thought process, the www interface was too cumbersome to make that a satisfying experience.

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rwoods    8

WebDirect has come a long way since it's root as 'Instant Web Publishing'. If you start with a web interface in mind, and test it on that client throughout the development process, then you will get good results.

You must 'design for WebDirect', which means considering design and performance issues, such as making sure you use the 'Themes' feature at all times, and don't apply local styling to layout elements. FileMaker's WebDirect guide at https://fmhelp.filemaker.com/docs/15/en/fm15_webdirect_guide.pdf alludes to most of these considerations.

I find that the problem with WebDirect comes when the developer designs a whole solution for FileMaker Pro, and then at the last minute checks that it all works in WebDirect too. Typically the developer will have used lots of tricks and techniques that work quickly in the native client, but may be slow or not render correctly in a browser. Also fonts, element alignment, layering and complex lines/fills and shading can be a little odd.

Just keep in mind that in WebDirect a lot of the work is done by the server, and not by the user's machine, and design for that, and you should be good. It's reasonable to assume also that FileMaker Inc will be putting lots of effort into the continuing improvement of WebDirect in FM v16 and beyond, so things can only get better (and faster!).

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Wim Decorte    446
15 hours ago, Richmilnix said:

But - and I don't mean to be thick, though I may be - is there precedent for layouts, made using the native FMP interface, and accessed via WebDirect - as the main method of accessing the db interface? 

 

Sure, that's what it is there for.  But a couple of things to keep in mind:

- @rwoods is spot on: the solution has to be designed with WebDirect in mind, which is different than designing for use with the normal FMP client.  There are things that don't work and things that work differently

- at heart it is a big trade-off between ease-of-development and scalability/performance/functionality.  See the WebDirect hardware requirements, they are not trivial.

- mind the licensing: the model does not lend itself very well to web applications that have a lot of anonymous users

If you are planning to have no FMP or FM Go clients, you probably should seriously consider another platform. 

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