Sharing your FileMaker apps is one of the FileMaker platform's best features. This video discusses the FileMaker Server application that makes sharing possible.
- [Instructor] For multiple users to work with a single FileMaker custom app at the same time, the users must be connected to a network, and the app must be hosted. Hosting refers to making an app available from a single central point, which would be the host, for multiple clients all at the same time. The best practice is to host FileMaker custom apps using FileMaker Server. Although you should be aware that the FileMaker Pro client software can host apps for use of up to five different client users. This configuration which is known as peer-to-peer hosting is not recommended for regular production use, but if you're interested in trying it out for groups of, really it's for other users, including yourself.
You can go under File, Sharing, and then choose Share with FileMaker Clients. Now you can turn this on. I can't turn it on because the machine that I'm using to record right now also has a working version of FileMaker Server running. So you can only have those, one or the other. You would turn this on, and then you'll get an IP address that you can distribute to other users, allowing them to access your file. You would also want to make sure that you don't leave the default No users option on there. You could say All users, or you could specify users by a privilege set, and then hit OK.
Then what I would recommend doing is going under Send, Link to Database, and send users a link to the database, which will contain the IP address, so you don't have to distribute that one separately. But as a host, FileMaker Pro lacks many of the important capabilities of FileMaker Server, such as the ability to encrypt database traffic over a network, or backup databases on a regular schedule. Or just to really efficiently service network requests from numerous clients at a time. Even more so, other work on the host machine is likely to run more slowly when the app is in peer-to-peer use, and the operation of FileMaker apps could be slowed or hindered by other tasks being performed on the host machine, so really part of the reason behind having FileMaker Server as your host is that it can just be dedicated to just the task of hosting up your custom apps.
When you go the route of hosting your apps on FileMaker Server, that means that you can share the same app at the same time with mixed environments, both Mac and Windows PCs that are running FileMaker Pro, or FileMaker Pro Advanced, and you won't have to have any additional programming. It's faithful across all the platforms, which is a huge selling point for FileMaker. You can also allow iOS access, so your custom apps can be accessed on iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch devices while either connected or not connected to a server. FileMaker WebDirect is a web-based deployment technology that reproduces a majority of the FileMaker Pro user experience in a supported web browser.
Now this also requires FileMaker Server. Also, another important capability of FileMaker Server is to serve FileMaker data to non-FileMaker clients using ODBC or JDBC. This feature allows programs written in other languages such as Java, or .NET, or PHP, or Oracle, or SQL Server, anything written in those applications can still have access to FileMaker data, but this also requires that the custom app in FileMaker be hosted on FileMaker Server. So in addition to allowing you to share among many users using various technologies, FileMaker Server offers the following advantages to just hosting on peer-to-peer.
You can host up to 125 files at one time on one single iteration of FileMaker Server. FileMaker 16 Server now has support for FileMaker data via Rest APIs. FileMaker 16 also introduces support for OAuth, which means that FileMaker Server can now support FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Pro Advanced 16 clients, allowing them to authenticate via an OAuth identity provider. Similar to what you see with other sites like Amazon, Google, or Microsoft Azure.
You can also make your FileMaker apps available to consuming XML data, or JSON data. You can view key information about all hosted databases and connected users, schedule automated backups with optional integrity checking, schedule the running of FileMaker app scripts and operating system scripts as well, and really you just get better performance out of shared databases when compared to hosing peer-to-peer with the FileMaker Pro client. You also have the very important ability to encrypt data as it moves over the network using SSL certificate support, and finally you can create administrator groups that have various levels of access to specific folders that contain different databases, allowing different users to be able to manage their own databases on-server.
Now the amount of users you can support will depend on various factors, mainly which technology you're using to access your FileMaker data. So if you look at this table, the table lists the tested and theoretical maximum simultaneous connections limits for FileMaker Server 16. Tested maximums reflects the test configuration and do not represent a guarantee of performance in any way, shape, or form, but you could look at it as kind of a minimum. Connections are only limited by hardware, app design, and operating system. We cannot understate how important it is to have a properly architected FileMaker custom app, because there could just be a couple programming decisions that could make the performance significantly less optimized than if you were to use other tactics.
As far as custom web publishing is concerned, multiple users can share a single CWP connection. Custom Web Publishing connections are based on simultaneous request events rather than persistent connections, so that's why you can see really your number of 200 is kind of a low number. It's more like 2,000 users in an application at a time is pretty reasonable. And that's just at a moment, like any one moment in time. Imagine 2,000 submit buttons being hit at the same time, not people that are just browsing data, because they're not actually persistently connected to your database with a database session.
So really that number goes up pretty significantly. So FileMaker Server 16 is a fast, reliable server software that's used to securely share data with groups of FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go, and FileMaker WebDirect users. It'll give you 24/7 availability and reliability, allow you to remotely manage apps with ease, and save time by automating a lot of administrative tasks. You absolutely must have it if you're having any more than just one or two users use your database at the same time.
- Using calculations in field options
- Using multiple criteria in relationships
- Advanced reporting
- Securing your custom apps
- Sharing your apps with FileMaker Server
- Configuring FileMaker Server
- Performing scripts on FileMaker Server
- Deploying FileMaker WebDirect
- Integrating with non-FileMaker databases
- Communicating with iBeacons
- Working with JSON