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Maximise your web solutions with FileMaker WebDirect

24 Mar 14

FileMaker WebDirect is a breakthrough FileMaker client that enables users to interact with your solutions on the web.

Create solutions using FileMaker Pro and then host, manage, and configure them on FileMaker Server.

Built on advances in web technologies, FileMaker WebDirect enables your solutions to do much of what FileMaker Pro can do, but within a modern web browser.

Web users don’t need to install additional software—anyone with compatible web browser software and access to the Internet or an intranet can connect to your FileMaker WebDirect solution to view, edit, sort, or search records, if you give them access privileges.

With FileMaker WebDirect, edits made in the web browser are automatically saved on the server, and the server automatically pushes all updates to the web browser.

FileMaker WebDirect works best when you are:

• creating FileMaker Pro solutions intended primarily for web browsers

• extending existing solutions to include occasional users or remote users outside the team

For particular groups of users, you can choose to add or modify only the layouts they need. For example, for warehouse workers picking items for orders, you may simply add a couple of layouts that work well in a browser.

If you plan to extend an existing solution for web users, you should expect to make changes to your solution for the best possible user experience.

Though you may need to make some changes to your solution using FileMaker Pro, you won’t need to write any PHP, HTML, CSS, or JavaScript code. It is strongly recommended that you design a specific set of layouts and included functionality for FileMaker WebDirect users.

How FileMaker WebDirect works

FileMaker WebDirect runs in a web browser and uses the following standard web technologies:

• HTML5 to define the structure of the page

• CSS3 to control the appearance of the page

• JavaScript to enable interactions (for example, clicking buttons and switching tab panels)

• HTTP/HTTPS as the request-and-response protocol between the web browser and the web server

These are evolving standards and technologies, implemented differently across web browsers. Your FileMaker solution may work differently according to how the web browser conforms to these standards, how the JavaScript engine performs, and how the browser parses and renders CSS. As web browsers become faster and more compliant, your FileMaker solutions will benefit.

Is FileMaker WebDirect a replacement for FileMaker Pro?

No. Although FileMaker WebDirect is very similar to FileMaker Pro, it does not have all the features of a FileMaker Pro network client. The great benefit of FileMaker WebDirect is being able to quickly and easily deploy a solution to anyone with a compatible web browser without using web authoring tools or other technologies.

The FileMaker experience with FileMaker WebDirect is very full-featured but there are some things that still require FileMaker Pro:

• viewing records in a spreadsheet-like table in Table View

• modifying the database design, including fields, layouts, scripts and relationships

• interacting with a solution from multiple windows

• entering data with rich text formatting (RTF)

• printing complex, multi-page reports

• interacting with the operating system and file system with automation and predefined scripts

• customising the menu bar

Generally, FileMaker WebDirect is ideal for users who need occasional or lightweight access to a FileMaker solution.

Other ways to publish FileMaker data on the web

In addition to FileMaker WebDirect, there are two other ways to publish your data:

Static publishing: If your data rarely changes, or if you don’t want users to have a live connection to your database, you can use static publishing where you export FileMaker data to create a webpage that you can further customise with HTML. The webpage doesn’t update when data in your solution changes, and users don’t connect to your database.

Custom Web Publishing: To integrate your FileMaker solution with a custom website, use the Custom Web Publishing technologies (with either PHP or XML). This is the recommended method for high-traffic web publishing scenarios.

Where can I get more information about FileMaker WebDirect?

We have published a FileMaker 13 WebDirect Guide that contains all you need to know about designing for FileMaker WebDirect, publishing a solution, and testing, monitoring and securing your solution. Access the document at http://www.filemaker.com/support/technologies/webdirect.html.

You will also find technical specifications for FileMaker Server including recommended hardware configurations for varying numbers of FileMaker WebDirect users.

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