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Switching from Access to FM Mac


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Hi all,

I have a large Access database running my business (4 users replicated) and since switching to Mac I am thinking of re-writing it with FM 8.5 Advance.

I have some questions to see if it is feasible:

1- is here any way to replicate the databases like in Access, this works great, users make changes on the road and update others when in the office this way.

2-Can Runtime applications be network shared; and is it possible for an user making changes on the road to update all the other users running network shared when in the office?

3-Is there a way in FM to populate a "drop-down list" with 2 values or more from a table (e.g: first and last name), I can only pick 1 value.

Can someone please help me, I would really like to switch, awesome program.

Thanks in advance,



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Welcome to how the FileMaker world. Which is generally more user-friendly; but whose methods may require some "translation"; and which sometimes may require external tools (I imagine the same thing is true if you went in the other direction).

1. I don't know exactly what "replicate" would mean. I think of this more as "synchronization." Yes, you can synchronize records between a master file and remote files. But you have to build the process to do so, such as an Import script, or, in more complex scenarios, a Loop to compare records and set fields. And there are some caveats.

1.a. FileMaker can have a Modification TimeStamp field. But is by default for the entire record (row), ie., all the fields (columns) in a single record share it. So, if that's all you need, then you're in business, as far as having the data you need to make comparisons. You can Loop through the new data, see which records have newer data, omit the ones that don't, then use Import Matching (on a unique ID) to update existing; you can "Add new records" at the same time.

1.b. If however you need to compare not only on a "records" timestamp, but also on a "field" timestamp, then you'd need to create a modification timestamp field for every relevant field; not that hard to do, but tedious. Then your Loop would look at those.

1.c. There is an external application, SyncDek, which is dedicated to handling these kind of remote updates. They can do it over the internet, so the remote guys could sync in real time from wherever. It costs some money, but it is good; I've not used it myself yet, but I've heard good things, from many people.


1.d. If they remote records "belong" to the person taking them, then you can "lock" the corresponding master record, with a simple flag field, when they go out. Then there's no problem, a simple Import Matching will handle it.

2. The Runtime engine does not support networking. But the data file it is attached to can be opened with a copy of regular FileMaker Pro, or FileMaker Server, and the file's data is then networkable. It could then be Imported (as outlined roughly in 1 above) to the master file. You would only really need 1 FileMaker Pro client to do this (one at a time).

2.a. I can't tell what networking really has to do with remote users using Runtimes however.

2.b. I don't know if SyncDek supports remote Runtimes.

2.c. The optimal setup is:

FileMaker Server as host.

If your data is important, then FileMaker Server is the way to go, if you have more than a very few (2) sharing the files over LAN and/or WAN.

FileMaker Pro on each laptop.

Then anyone can connect to the database whenever/wherever they have WAN or LAN access. FileMaker Pro can be used remotely over WAN, if the connection is decent. Or they can wait until they get back, plug into the network from their desk, and run the process to synchronize their records with the master file(s). Less hassle than physically moving the files (if you can really say "physical" about files).

Like many things in life, you get what you pay for. You can do it cheaply OK, with 1 copy of FileMaker Pro Advanced and a bunch of Runtimes, but it'll be more trouble.

3. Create a 3rd calculation field, to concatenate the others, result text, leave Storage indexing automatic (default):o

First & " " & Last

It will sort alphabetically. You can also "Show only values from 2nd field" (be sure you have no exact duplicates).

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Hi Fenton,

Thanks for your response, that gives me some insight.

If it wasn't for how much I like the Mac and to work in a friendlier database, the old saying "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" would come to mind.

I have to weight all the pros and cons.

I have read other posts regarding this and it is not a matter of being cheap that I thought of using "Runtimes", but it is a matter of economics specially after all I have invested in the Access side.

Thanks again,


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