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Evaluating FileMaker: will it do what I need?


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I am trying to decide if FileMaker will solve my situation.

Here's my situation:

I am in need of a database solution to assist me with the following situation.

I work in a hospital laboratory. We are inspected once every two years by an organization that uses "checklists" which are basically questions like, "How do you handle XYZ issue?" We currently have this information compiled in a bunch of different paper manuals spread out across the laboratory.

I want to be able to put on our network a database that includes the following information:

[1] The checklist item (question); this would be static (i.e. it would only be changed/updated by the database administrator)

[2] The number (identifier) of the checklist item (also a static item)

[3] The answer to the item; this would be a field that can be edited by a number of different users.

[4] The person/employee assigned to the checklist (ideally with a drop-down box listing all the possibilities

[5] A checkbox indicating if the item has been completed/answered.l

[6] The area of the lab that the checklist pertains to (i.e. hematology, microbiology, etc).

The fields would need to be searchable (so a list of all items pertaining to a particular area could be found).

I'm thinking this is, possibly, relatively easy, since the database won't need to pull data from any other program.I ain't no programmer, but love messing with things. I am probably in over my head with this one, but we'll see.

The real kicker in this is that I want to do this on my Mac and allow it to be placed on a Novell (Windows) network.

So, if anyone up until this point is still reading this,

[1] Can a FileMaker database be exported to a database that would work in Excel? (The hospital has Excel, not FileMaker).

[2] If the above wouldn't work, would I be able to create a FileMaker database on my Mac that would then run on Filemaker for Windows installed on the network?


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Welcome Argelius,

Indeed, FileMaker can handle the structure for the questions in your checklists. But to get the most out of FileMaker, and to aide in data entry and keeping a history of these checklists over time, the structure would involve multiple related tables. It's not particularly difficult setting up a relational database like this, but as with any new application, it takes time and experimentation to figure out how best to build it.

It's important to keep in mind that moving the data from a relational solution like this to an Excel spreadsheet would either involve flattening the data when exporting, or having to link multiple exported sheets afterword. In my opinion, It would be better to build such a solution in FileMaker entirely, and have the users connect to the host over the network with their FileMaker clients (be sure to use 'Hosts' and not OS level File Sharing for this.)

If you are interested in hosting such a solution to a number of FileMaker clients, there are several things to consider:

1. Some things, like record locking, and retention of globally stored fields, work a little different in hosted solutions than in stand-alone solutions.

2. The limit of hosting from a client version of FileMaker Pro is 5 concurrent users. For more than this, FM Server is needed. For more than 50 concurrent users, the server's OS should also be a server version.

3. Although in stand-alone solutions security can be very simple, in hosted solutions, there may be a variety of users connecting (with a variety of skills.) It's important to design a security schema that allows/denies access to the various parts of the solution, and that each user has their own login.

4. Remember, that each client workstation needs its own license.

I would caution you that the project as outlined so far, plus the security, user interface, and a few reports, is likely to take a considerable amount of time. For an experienced developer, I'd guess this might take 30-40 hours. For a beginner, it might take twice as long (and work half as well--no offense intended, it just takes a lot of trial and error to know what works well and what doesn't.)

Anyway, I hope you find the answers you need. The FileMaker community has a lot of help in these forums if you get stuck.

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