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Filemaker & the WEB


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Hi Guys,

I really need to understand FMP on the Web.

We want to put up a FileMaker site that we think initially will have upwards of 800 users visiting the site at one time and project that to triple within six months. These are people without Filemaker who will just be visiting the site to read some reports and then show their interest level by selecting 1, 2 or 3 and then pressing a button to record their selection.

Can FileMaker and PHP handle these numbers? This is our first time we are putting Filemaker on the Web and although I know Filemaker reasonably well from a development standpoint. I know little about putting it on the Web. Is there a good book you could direct me to or anything at all that will help me understand how to do this with FileMaker.

One quick question. Right now if I put my solution on the web using IWP it looks pretty much like what I built on my desktop. Is that also true of Filemaker and PHP. In other words, can I use my same Filemaker database I used with IWP with PHP and it will look the same on the Web?

Thanks guys, I really need your help with this one.

James

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1) You may be pushing it with those numbers (FM can handle 100 user connections at any one given time - note that a connection only exists when the data is requested - usually about 0-2 seconds after the user clicks a link)

2) No, PHP is not going to magically produce a web based equivilant of your databse - it will be much more basic interface wise, though if you use the PHP site wizard or whatever they called it, you may be able to get something functionally similar.

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Hi Genx,

RE: 1) It looks like you're saying that FMP could handle our needs of 800 initally. What happens when there are too many people trying to see the site? Do they get a message of two many folks on the site or what?

RE: 2) Is there another and or better way to go than PHP that will A. Handle the number of hits and B. Allow you to use your layouts more like IWP?

Thanks for getting back to me Genx,

James

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RE: 1) It looks like you're saying that FMP could handle our needs of 800 initally. What happens when there are too many people trying to see the site? Do they get a message of two many folks on the site or what? - No it would just time out, but you could possibly work something into your script to catch for to many users, pause the script and then try again. To be honest with this volume I'd probably look at something else though

RE: 2) Is there another and or better way to go than PHP that will A. Handle the number of hits and B. Allow you to use your layouts more like IWP? - You might consider trying something like PHP Nuke or Dot Net Nuke - Graphically easy sites to put together though they don't rely on fm as the data source.. however given FM 9's ability to plug into sql sources, it may be easier this way anyway. Then again, I suppose it comes back to what you're actually trying to achieve with this.

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Hi again Genx,

Genx Said: To be honest with this volume I'd probably look at something else though.

What else would you look at?

Aside from the visitor issue we will also add upwards of 100 to 125 new products per week. Once we get up to around 5,000 products the first year, for every 125 products (All Text) we add each week, about the same amount of products will be deleted each week.

So what would you do Genx? We really would like to start out with FileMaker because we know it and everyone here in the office knows how to use it. But I would really like to hear what you have to say about what we should give consideration to later?

Mames

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Well for the webside I would personally use something like PHP / MySQL - unfortunately this isn't just a point, click and publish scenario in most cases and will require some programming and html knowledge - however there are many freeware CMS systems that may help you out and let you get away with pretty much no coding.

This doesn't however mean that you would have to abandon FileMaker - provided you are willing to upgrade to FM 9 - you can fully integrate the MySQL DB tables into FM as if they were FM tables; the tech for this is called ESS or External SQL Integration. Once again, its hard to make too many suggestions if i'm not sure exactly what you're planning on using it for, and the budget of your company among other things..

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Hello again Genx,

I forgot to upgrade my forum information. I do have FMP 9 Advanced and upgraded my information to show it.

Genx said: however there are many freeware CMS systems that may help you out and let you get away with pretty much no coding.

Can you help direct me to them?

Genx said: you can fully integrate the MySQL DB tables into FM as if they were FM tables; the tech for this is called ESS or External SQL Integration.

Yes, this is what we would want to do because we want to stay with Filemaker. Is this MySQL and ESS a difficult thing to do? I mean is it something I can follow along in the instruction manual and do on my own, or is it something beyond a novice?

Genx Said: its hard to make too many suggestions if i'm not sure exactly what you're planning on using it for, and the budget of your company among other things.

What information can I provide so you know “what we’re planning to use it for”? The last thing I want to do is ask for your suggestions and then not provide you with the information you need. So please let me know and i'll be happy to provide it.

As for budget I’m not really sure. I asked the owner here and he said, “We’ll have to pay what’s needed to get the job done. Do you have any idea how much that would be?”

You see, all this time we thought this was something we could do on our own in Filemaker so we hadn’t talked budgets, other than buying FMP 9A. Do you have any idea, based on our providing a "ready to go" FMP database? I mean ready to go from the standpoint of the database doing what we want it to do and we checked it out based on IWP to make sure all of the buttons worked and everything positioned correctly.

Again Genx, thanks so much for helping us,

James

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"Yes, this is what we would want to do because we want to stay with Filemaker. Is this MySQL and ESS a difficult thing to do? I mean is it something I can follow along in the instruction manual and do on my own" - Yes it is something you can do on your own, just don't go overboard with it (i.e. don't change every table in your fm db just to meet that requirement.)

You shouldn't actually have to spend a lot of money on this - i'm talking less than a couple of hundred bucks to get a few modules you may need that don't come with the DNN or PHP Nuke systems individually.

The question again though is - is this an ecommerce solution, or rather what is the purpose of the actual site?

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Hi Genx,

Genx Said: You shouldn't actually have to spend a lot of money on this - i'm talking less than a couple of hundred bucks to get a few modules you may need that don't come with the DNN or PHP Nuke systems individually.

[color:blue]Could you be more specific as to what I need and where I go to get them?

Genx Said: The question again though is - is this an ecommerce solution, or rather what is the purpose of the actual site?

[color:red]USERS: [color:blue]We have an audience of up to 70 million users who would have an interest in visiting our site. They will be able to select business subjects of interest, select specific topics and then rank/vote on each topic between 1, 2 or 3. They can also comment on a topic if they choose to.

Before they can vote they have to fill out an on line form with the standard name and address information and then their Association ID number that verifies they are who they say they are. This is what adds strength and importance to the information.

[color:purple]CUSTOMER: [color:blue]We have an audience of around 600,000 customers who can go to the site to see the statistics of what subjects and topics were selected, how they were ranked and can get the statistics by Zip Code, City, County, State etc.

What makes the site unique is that the USER, the people voting are all association people. The very people the CUSTOMER’s want to know their thinking. It’s like a huge professional focus group that is happy to give their professional opinions on topics that interest them. And the CUSTOMER’s benefit by this professional input and can better structure their future advertising campaigns, business model, employee relations, etc.

So the USER’s go in and select topics and vote and the CUSTOMER’s go in, see the statistics and use it for their own purposes.

I hope I didn’t bore you with all of that. But did I give you enough information so you know how the site will be used?

Thanks for staying with me on this Genx,

James

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Okayyyy. What you may want to do then is this.

1) Manage the primary site with something like this:

http://www.joomla.org/

http://www.dotnetnuke.com/

http://ez.no/

http://www.mamboserver.com/

http://www.postnuke.com/module-pages-display-pid-4.html

2) Definitely store that info regarding your topics, votes, comments and customers in MySQL - FM would be too stressed by the constant whacks it would be getting from Requests.

3) Your needs are a bit more specific than I would've though but if you spend a few days reading up and using a tool like dreamweaver to help you out, you should probably be okay.

4) Given the volume of hits your expecting, it may be justifiable for you to get someone familiar with PHP / MySQL in to set some of this up for you (if you can't work it out yourself).

HTH (i know it doesn't but I can still hope right?)

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Hi Genx,

First let me thank you for all of your help. You’ve really gone over and above the call to help me and I just want you to know how much I appreciate it.

I have a feeling when all is said and done I may be way over my head. With IWP I new that my Filemaker layouts were being used as my web pages on the Internet. And I new the way I designed the layouts in Filemaker would, for the most part, look that way on the web.

Now with PHP and SQL etc I’m not even sure I understand what’s happening. I mean does it even matter what my Filemaker layouts look like? All this time I thought I needed to have a decent looking layout because the layout will be shown on the Internet. Now if I understand things correctly, with PHP and SQL my layouts will not even be used right? Or could they be used if I wanted it that way?

I’ve been thinking all this time with a mindset of IWP meaning “I’m not doing IWP but my layouts will still be used with whatever else we use”. Do I understand things correctly now, that my fields, calculations and scripts will be used with PHP and SQL but not my layouts?

I don’t understand why I’m having so much trouble wrapping my brain around this. And I feel bad for you because you have to be sitting there thinking, “This guy is one of the stupidest guys on the planet”!

I’m sorry for being so stupid, but I sure appreciate the help you’ve given me. I hope before this thread gets much longer I’ll finally "Get It" because I sure don’t now.

Thanks Genx,

James

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Now with PHP and SQL etc I’m not even sure I understand what’s happening. I mean does it even matter what my Filemaker layouts look like? All this time I thought I needed to have a decent looking layout because the layout will be shown on the Internet. Now if I understand things correctly, with PHP and SQL my layouts will not even be used right?

Essentially no, the Layout appearance will not matter - if you use PHP/SQL for this then layouts don't even come into question as they don't exists within the SQL system. At the end of the day, the actual field definitons etc. will not matter in the FileMaker system either (if you want to go to a PHP/SQL system) as you will have to redefine the tables in SQL and then pull the table back over to FM.

SQL is designed to act as a backend data only system with something else acting as the front end (e.g. PHP, ASP, Access, Flash, FileMaker etc.). This is as opposed to FileMaker which in simple terms acts as both a database (the table definition) and the interface design (scripts and layouts etc). The upside to the somewhat more complex SQL system however is there are no set user / connection constraints - i.e. waaayyy more than 100 connections at any given time... and you can pull the tables into FM now though the field definition etc. still has to be done within SQL.

If you use PHP/FileMaker then the layouts only come into question to the extent of what fields are on any given layout. Unlike SQL, the FileMaker PHP interface relies on layouts and what fields are present on those layouts.

And no I don't think your stupid - its a hard concept to grab especially if you've not heard of some of these technologies before. Its a lot to take in, but just to re-affirm if you were doing this with a PHP/SQL/FileMaker System here's how it would work:

1) PHP<->SQL (required data for web stored in SQL system, not FM - php gets data from SQL)

2) SQL<->FileMaker (SQL tables -with data- are pulled back into FM using FM9's ESS. This can include those tables that are specifically for the web in SQL -> This data is live).

PS - don't make me read you putting yourself down, its really annoying lol - seriously, we're all beginners some times.

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Hi Genx,

You are right of course, it’s a learning curve and I need to learn, not get all down and out. Thanks for setting me straight.

I think what frustrates me more than anything is I don’t know enough or can learn enough quick enough to know what to do next? It’s my responsibility to get this site on line and I don’t know how to do it.

My thought process is this. I want to do whatever is needed to get the web site up within the next 30 days, so we can at least get started and our customers can see what we’ve got.

I hear things like Lasso, CDML, Fx.PHP, Web Merge and other products that help automate the process. Part of my problem is although I can type their names, I’m not really sure what they do and are any of them good for me and do any of the Filemaker hosting companies make any sense?

The one thing I know for sure is I need to find something I can reasonable do on my own or can get done for a reasonably small amount of money. I know this means putting something on the web initially that will not be what I’ll want 6 months from now. But it will allow us exposure to see if the site will be as successful as we anticipate. On the same hand I do not want to put up a site that a lot of customers cant even get to because of concurrent user issues.

You know what I want Genx? I want an IWP that will handle 800 people coming onto the site at one time. I know it’s not possible, but that’s what I’d like. Where I could use the FileMaker database I built and the layouts I designed and the data would all reside within Filmmaker for all data manipulation etc.

What can I do to at least get started? I mentioned Lasso, CDML, Fx.PHP, Web Merge. Do these things allow me to use FileMaker and allow me any reasonable amount of people coming to my web site? And if the answer is yes, is there something I can buy that will walk me through the process of how to do it? You know a step-by-step process that if I can read and use a little brainpower, I can get it done. I guess what I’m asking you, after reading all of my posts on this subject. What would you recommend that I do?

I see your name all over the forum and you obviously know what your talking about and are well respected. That’s not blowing smoke, it’s a fact. I know there are many options and I know we all have our likes and dislikes and I really don’t want to put you on the spot. Well actually I guess I do because I respect your opinion. So what would you do?

Put in the simplest terms. What I’m asking you is this. If you were tied down to a chair and were told, “You either answer the question to the best of your ability, or be shown 2 hours of Parris Hilton footage”, what would you tell me? And take warning here, because I can get that footage!

James

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I swear I hate Paris Hilton more than anyone in existance, that being said, its tempting lol.

Okay, all these technologies refer to similar things, just different generations of similar (but still different) technologies.

FX.php will work almost as well as the FM PHP API - they're based on the same technology but the PHP API was written by FileMaker Inc and FX.php was written by a guy who felt like sharing. CDML doesn't really exist any more in the new FM product lines and Lasso ... well i never got into Lasso but its similar to all this other stuff and as far as i know is less common given the introduction of the php classes.

My recommendation would probably be to integrate directly with FM to keep it simple - 100 connections is a fair number and really works out to around 6000 max requests per minute. Go to http://www.fmwebschool.com/fmstudio.php and take a look at their fmstudio dreamweaver plugin - if you're on FM 8 you should look at the fX.php version, if you're on 9, look at the FM API version.

Its a brilliant little thing that writes all your code for you - i think there are a few video's off to the left on that link - start there and you can't go wrong.

PS I am impressed with the size of your post - you must really be stressed hehehe.

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Hi Genx,

I just went to fmwebschool.com and bought their fx.php version. It was only $125 bucks, which I thought was a really good price. I don’t have purchase notification from them yet, but I look forward to seeing it first hand.

Thank you for staying with me on all of this. You’ve done more for me than you know. I’ve had people here in the office just driving me crazy. Like I’m supposed to know all this. I guess their feeling is “If you know something about Filemaker, why don’t you know about this?

Some time you don’t know how much you've helped because you’re so good at what you do that you don’t think about it. Thank you, thank you, and thank you for being there and helping me like you have. I’m sorry about the Paris Hilton threat, but I was just that desperate. : Forgive me!

James

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