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Can filemaker do...


jimmytich
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I have been using Filemaker for a number of years here at work, but want to take our department database to the next level.

Until now, we have been working with one database that we either copy to our desktops, modify and return to the server, or sometimes opening multi-user mode, which has generally been extremely slow. I assume that if I were to use Filemaker Server, things would improve on the speed front, but don't know for sure.

What I want to do, and want to be sure Filemaker can't do it before I abandon it, is create a custom application that uses a database as the backend. I don't want to work in Filemaker anymore, but instead want to write a program to enter and manipulate data in the database. I get the sense from the filemaker website that one can program Java front ends, but I think I'd to try and write my program using xCode, as I don't think Java will be robust enough to do what I need to do. Is this possible?

Also, I want to use a client/server model, where individual users can work on the database locally, without network connections, and then come back later and sync the changes they've made in with the server version of the database. I can't quite figure out how to make filemaker do this.

And, maybe it's just me, but I just can't wrap my head around Filemaker's relationship paradigm. I know a little Access and Openbase, and like their use of tables with primary keys. As far as I know, multiple database files have to exist to do the same thing in Filemaker? Why? How do people deal with tens of filemaker files? Do they create packages, or move the files together in folders, if they need the database to move from computer to computer?

Maybe I need to learn more of the advanced function of Filemaker. I really like scriptmaker, and notice that Openbase doesn't have anything near as friendly. Are there any really good, deep books on the advance functions of filemaker? Websites?

I'd like to stay with the database we have been using for years, but worry that it's not robust enough to do what we need to do.

Any help would be appreciated.

James

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James:

First off, nothing in your post sounds beyond FileMaker - it really is a very powerful and robust database, especially when used in conjunction with FileMaker Server. I'm not sure why you want to create a custom application, rather than working within FMP, but that's your business. Frankly, I think FileMaker is so much simpler to use than any programming language, and is pretty much as powerful a db system as you could need (short of the requirements of a very very large corporation), that I'd hesitate before abandoning ship.

FileMaker's relationship method makes plenty of sense, once you get used to it. For me, it was the first database I really learned, so I have a more difficult time dealing with "normal" db systems, with their single files and multiple tables... and yes, you do indeed move the whole lot together, should you need to move the system. The great thing about it, is that the files (tables) are modular - you can rework things in clearly identifiable chunks...

I'd look at Rich Coulombre & Johnathan Price's "Using FileMaker Pro" book, which is full of good stuff. There are a number of excellent books and references out there. Others will recommend their favorites, no doubt.

If you're really concerned with people being able to access the guts of your solution in FileMaker, you can always make use of FileMaker Developer, to create bound runtimes (essentially applications) which run outside of the FileMaker environment, but can work to a degree with data hosted via FileMaker Server.

As far as FileMaker's capabilities, you'll find that the members of this forum have developed solutions as sophisticated and stable as any application out there. Once you wrap your head around FM's specific strengths and weaknesses, you can get most anything you want out of it. I've even prototyped a video editing application in FileMaker...

HTH

-Stanley

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That's all cool. I guess the main reason I want to create a custom app is for expandability, for the ability to load the app on it's own on any number of systems, and to allow the user a more traditional application environment. I suppose I should learn more about filemaker's advanced features, as this might be something that could be simulated.

Essentially, I work in film, visual effects, and want to create an environment to break down scripts, create budgets, log shows using Quicktime and enbedded timecode, etc, outside of the filemaker layouts paradigm. Want to be able to run multiple windows on the data, toolbars, etc, etc.

Maybe I should try and check out some of the more sophisticated filemaker databases -- almost everything I've seen looks like filemaker with customization.

But I'll keep an open mind. Any links to high end use of Filemaker would be appreciated, especially programs that ditch the standard filemaker layouts navigation method.

And I will check out the book!

James

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James:

As far as the logging, etc, that you mentioned, the video editing prototype I built had that as a function - capturing timecode data from QT files for logging purposes, enabling auto-play of clips from logs, etc. It's all totally doable in FileMaker. Multiple windows, too (one reason for using different files) and toolbars (same thing). Once you get into it, you'll discover that these forums offer an immense amount of information, and everyone here is very helpful.

Good luck,

-Stanley

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