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Filemaker or External Solution


eyeguy88
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I have a client who is currently using Filemaker 11 as their their primary real estate processing solution, but with a poorly designed set of databases and an incredible number of overly complex calculations.  (For instance, they're currently going through four steps to append all notes to the same field rather than creating separate records tied to a single property ID)

 

Their processors work in a task based environment, with between 190 and 250 related and data dependent tasks. They have hired me to fix the bugs in their processing system and add a sales side application as well.

 

Additionally, they want these solutions available on the web. My experience with databases is limited to MS SQL, so I'm very much in the dark with the more recent versions of Filemaker (the last time I worked in Filemaker was back in 2008 developing a small database for simple reporting). From what I've seen so far, they need a completely revamped application.  The current iteration of their database and layout/application design is sluggish, over-complicated, and too dependent on the users to know exactly what they're doing.  One mistake can muff the whole thing up as far as the tasks go.

 

My question is this: Is Filemaker suitable for a task with such heavy applications (for 20+ concurrent users), or should I direct them toward a separate application with SQL connections for their database?  They're ready to spend the money to upgrade to FM 13, but I have them in a temporary holding pattern until I can get more insight on whether the newer version will actually allow me to provide what they need.

 

If Filemaker can suit their needs, I'm more than happy to get up to speed on the modern version and clean this up, I just don't want them to invest too heavily if I'm only going to be able to provide a band-aid solution to their current woes.

 

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Not sure what you mean by "available on the web" -- is that just for internal use? If so, it is certainly within the realm of WebDirect. You should plan to have separate web server and FileMaker server machines for good performance with 20 WD users.

 

If we're talking about non-web users or custom web publishing (CWP), then 20 users is nothing, FileMaker can handle ten times that.

 

You are quite right to seek out the best tool for the job. That's not always going to be FileMaker, but I still think it generally runs circles around other development environments in terms of rapid development for small to midsize workgroups.

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Not sure what you mean by "available on the web" -- is that just for internal use? If so, it is certainly within the realm of WebDirect. You should plan to have separate web server and FileMaker server machines for good performance with 20 WD users.

 

If we're talking about non-web users or custom web publishing (CWP), then 20 users is nothing, FileMaker can handle ten times that.

 

You are quite right to seek out the best tool for the job. That's not always going to be FileMaker, but I still think it generally runs circles around other development environments in terms of rapid development for small to midsize workgroups.

 

My apologies for the vagueness regarding web availability in the original post.  They would prefer to host their solution for access and direct database interaction over the internet for both local and external users rather than purchase a FM pro license for each user of the application (they currently have FM Pro Advanced 11 licenses for each internal user and no way to access outside the network).

 

My concern in flexibility and speed is not so much the number of users at this point as it is the dynamic, task based interface they are looking for.  Their current task loop is hitting 3-4 seconds to complete and my familiarity with Filemaker is outdated and insignificant to the point where I don't really know if it's the scripting, the limits of Filemaker, or both at this point.  I definitely see the advantages of Filemaker in rapid development as I've already been able to fix most of their minor issues with no problem at all, it's the main component of tasks that's been throwing me.

 

I really appreciate the help and advice.

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  • 2 months later...

I would wait for version 14 if you can and preferably until 14.0v2 but that will probably take another six months so I understand if you can't.  I agree with Tom - FileMaker can take care of your client with most flexibility and least cost.  You can suggest that they proceed with FileMaker and allot a healthy chunk to hiring a consultant such as Comment to perform at least a high-level consultation of these 'major component of tasks' to guarantee you start with a solid base structure.

 

Just like pouring concrete floor before putting in a bathroom, certain things should be considered before you begin to build or you can pay a bigger price ripping up the concrete to put the plumbing down.  A good consultant at the beginning stage is worth a hundred of you or me so include one in your budget.  Once a good structure is at least penciled out, the rest of design is a cake-walk.  :-)

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Still looking for any available advice on this issue.

 

Given the generic nature of your question, I think you have all the generic advice we can give you.

 

We would need more details about the current structure and design to tell you whether you can get a lot more speed gains in the processing.  My gut feel is "yes".  Nothing in the load you are talking about comes even close to pushing this outside of the FM comfort zone.

 

Having said that: if the ONLY interaction with the solution will come through a browser then study the existing functionality in detail and figure out if all of that is possible through the browser.  The browser as a client has many limitations (not just for FM purposes, for any platform).

The cost for working around them and the overall longer development cycle may be much higher than simply buying enough FM licenses...

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