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Filemaker Server (How to get started)


Jarvis
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I am at the present time nibbling my way into the concepts of filemaker server.

This is very new to me so some of these questions will be pretty basic.

I appreciate your forbearance.

We currently have some databases hosted on a web based server.

We pay $80 a month for this service and have fairly limited access.

We use this as a way to communicate with my cabinet shop.

These databases are used for task management. We embed PDF files (and occasionally jpegs) into container fields.

These embedded files explain details about the cabinets we are building.

As soon as the information has been harvested we typically delete the record because we don't want to make the database too bloated.

Would really love to upload these documents as "referenced" files but do not have this kind of access to the web host service.

The reason we have paid an outside service to host this is so we don't have to invest in the software, hardware or learning curve necessary to do this ourselves.

We are starting to revisit this, however.

So now we have some questions about getting started.

The cabinet shop could use about 10 client stations.

We would like to be able to access these databases with Apple i-pads from remote locations.

Would like to store training videos on the server.

Would like to store a gazillion referenced jpegs on the server.

Here are my questions:

1) What are the primary advantages to using Filemaker Server 11 vs Filemaker Server 11 Advanced?

Are there any differences in complication for setting them up, maintaining or backing them up?

2) How much hardware do we need to optimize this?

Apple sells a MacMini for $900 and a Pro Server for $3000.

3) What is the difference between the two servers for our purposes?

If the quantity of referenced files grow, how do we increase hard drive capacity and still be able to find it with referenced files?

Should we buy the biggest hard drive on the planet now?

4) Do we need to have a dedicated (static?) IP Address in order to find these databases from remote locations on the ipad?

These questions might be putting the cart before the horse but I'm not really sure where to start.

Thank you for your patience.

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Lots of good questions. This is an ambitious system you are contemplating. I recommend you go to the VTC.com website and take a look at the Server 11 videos that Wim Decorte did. They are a good first start for you.

In transit today and am sending this from iPad, so can't give a fuller explanation right now.

Steven

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1) What are the primary advantages to using Filemaker Server 11 vs Filemaker Server 11 Advanced?

Don't bother with Advanced unless you're thinking about IWP.

http://www.filemaker.com/products/compare/fms_vs_fmsa.html

Are there any differences in complication for setting them up, maintaining or backing them up?

Not really.

2) How much hardware do we need to optimize this?

The Mini is probably sufficient.

http://www.filemaker.com/products/filemaker-server/server-11-specifications.html

3) What is the difference between the two servers for our purposes?

The Pro makes it very easy to swap out hard drives, and you can have more of them internal.

If the quantity of referenced files grow, how do we increase hard drive capacity and still be able to find it with referenced files?

You should look into SuperContainer, it takes the pain out of external file references.

Should we buy the biggest hard drive on the planet now?

No. Hard drive capacities will continue to grow. Buy the bigger drive when you need it.

4) Do we need to have a dedicated (static?) IP Address in order to find these databases from remote locations on the ipad?

Yes. You'll want a fast and reliable connection as well.

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1) What are the primary advantages to using Filemaker Server 11 vs Filemaker Server 11 Advanced?

Don't bother with Advanced unless you're thinking about IWP.

http://www.filemaker...ms_vs_fmsa.html

The other thing that Server Advanced does is ODBC and JDBC.

2) How much hardware do we need to optimize this?

The Mini is probably sufficient.

http://www.filemaker...ifications.html

3) What is the difference between the two servers for our purposes?

The Pro makes it very easy to swap out hard drives, and you can have more of them internal.

Not a big fan of the Mac Mini as a server. It truly has sub-standard hardware. The risk here is that you'll end up paying for multiple Minis as they are more likely to fail than the Pro.

You are sorta limiting the choices here, you can buy a decent entry level Windows server for half the price of the Pro.

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What I meant was that IWP was the only thing he'd probably care about -- just trying to keep things simple.

Good point about the Windows server, but I would add: only if they have an IT person to set it up.

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Thanks everybody for all the help so far.

I'm back with more questions:

Question 1: The difference between Server 11 & Server 11 Advanced.

How would I use IWP?

As part of my cabinet shop website I would like to have a searchable database for such things as faucets, sinks, windows etc.

Would like to be able to sort these by price or dimension and associate them with an image of the item.

I would also like to be able to sell doors and drawer boxes to other cabinet shops but would like them to be able to place their own orders

without my intervention.

Would I need the IWP function to make this happen?

If you did not have IWP, how would you access a list of questions etc remotely from an ipad?

Question 2: Hardware again.

What is the minimum hardware necessary to produce a decent user experience.

I want the images to load quickly into a browser.

Is this speed issue associated with the server itself or with the internet connection?

How would the internet connection want to differ from something like Comcast Cable or Qwest DSL?

Question 3: I would like to stay with Apple servers. Can't really explain why but PCs seem like the dark side to me.

How does Apple's server box differ from another garden variety fast Apple computer? Is there something inherently different about the hardware?

Question 4: What about movies? I would like to have in-house movies for training purpose and web based movies for customers to see movies about kitchens.

Would I want to store the movies on the same server that filemaker lives on or would I want to park these on youtube?

Question 5: Would I get better performance for in-house database needs from an LAN than from a web based host?

Question 6: Can I program either Server 11 or Server 11 Advanced to automatically back up data without intervention from me?

Where would the backed up data live? I like the concept of keeping backup off-premise from where the server situates (for security, fire etc) but not sure how to do that without cloud computing.

I read Steven Blackwell's article about the pros & cons of cloud computing and it does give me a little consternation. I have already experienced some of the same issues he alludes to even with my

little $80 a month hosted package.

Thank you all again for your help and patience.

As you can see I am about as smart as a sack of hammers on this topic.

I appreciate any guidance I can get.

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IWP is instant web publishing. It has some limitations but basically it lets people access your database like a web site without having to create a web site. Like I said it has limitations but it's pretty awesome, and it's fast and cheap compared to the alternative, which is custom web publishing. CWP required a web interface to be built in html and php that pulls and pushes data from the database to the web browsers.

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The other thing that Server Advanced does is ODBC and JDBC.

Not a big fan of the Mac Mini as a server. It truly has sub-standard hardware. The risk here is that you'll end up paying for multiple Minis as they are more likely to fail than the Pro.

You are sorta limiting the choices here, you can buy a decent entry level Windows server for half the price of the Pro.

Completely agree about the mini Mac. It is substandard, especially for what you're describing here that you want to do.

Steven

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The original post specified 10 users, which a Mini could easily handle. But now it seems we're talking about serving up movies on the web, etc. You're going to need some kick-ass hardware for that. In fact, you should dedicate one machine to FileMaker Server, and another to your web server. You can even put a 3rd machine into the mix. See:

http://www.filemaker.com/support/product/docs/fms/fms11_getting_started_en.pdf

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How would I use IWP? As part of my cabinet shop website I would like to have a searchable database for such things as faucets, sinks, windows etc. Would like to be able to sort these by price or dimension and associate them with an image of the item.

All of the above is feasible with IWP.

I would also like to be able to sell doors and drawer boxes to other cabinet shops but would like them to be able to place their own orders without my intervention.

IWP is not well-suited to integration with outside services such as credit card payments.

If you did not have IWP, how would you access a list of questions etc remotely from an ipad?

FileMaker Go is a full FileMaker client for iOS.

Hardware again.

The internet connection will be a huge factor. Typical home/business packages throttle the upload speed, so you'll want to talk to your ISP about a T1 or other options.

How does Apple's server box differ from another garden variety fast Apple computer?

Apple no longer makes a "server" per se. I think this question has already been answered, just go to apple.com and look at the specs.

What about movies? ... Would I want to store the movies on the same server that filemaker lives on or would I want to park these on youtube?

As I mentioned in my last post, you should run FMS on its own box if you're going to stream movies. But if it works for you to use youtube, that will probably give your users faster access. Plus you could possibly leverage the social marketing component.

Would I get better performance for in-house database needs from an LAN than from a web based host?

Hmm, let me think about that... YES!!!

Can I program either Server 11 or Server 11 Advanced to automatically back up data without intervention from me?

Yes, that's one of the fundamental reasons to deploy FileMaker Server.

Where would the backed up data live?

That is up to you. Typically FMS backs up to the server's hard drive, and then you invoke some other mechanism to move a copy of that backup to the location of your choice, be it a local network file server, a burned disc, or Dropbox or whatever.

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