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Archive for 2017

FileMaker Hosting – What Plan is Right for You?

November 22nd, 2017

When it comes to hosting your FileMaker solution, there are a lot of options out there. You can host it yourself onsite, you can host with a service, or you can explore FileMaker Cloud. Let’s assume that you’ve decided the hassle and costs associated with hosting your solution yourself are too prohibitive and you’ve decided to host with a service.

Now you’re looking at plans. There is shared hosting and dedicated hosting and concierge services for FileMaker Cloud (not discussed in this blog, but follow this link for more info).

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Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the most economical option available on the market and very appealing to a lot of people looking to host their FileMaker solution.

In order to figure out if shared hosting is the right option for you and to help you choose between our Starter or Professional Plan, let’s start with a few questions:

First: What version of FileMaker Pro is your solution currently running on? What version of FileMaker Server are you currently using and what version of FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server do you want or need to be on?

Okay, that was technically three questions, but they are all important.

Our shared hosting plans support FileMaker Server 11-14 and FileMaker Pro (client) 7-16. The compatibility chart below details what FileMaker Pro versions are available on the different FileMaker Server versions.

Shared_Hosting_Compatibiity_ 2017

If don’t want to or don’t need to upgrade to FileMaker Server 15 or above, a shared hosting plan could be perfect for your needs.

Second: How many files do you want to host (and how big are your files)?

The Starter plan is ideal for one file and up to 1 GB of data. If you need to host more than one file, the Professional plan supports up to five database files and 5 GBs of storage.

Third: Do you need FileMaker WebDirect or FileMaker Go connections?

If yes, you need to go with the Professional plan. Our Starter plan does not support WebDirect or Go connections.

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Dedicated Hosting
If you want or need to be on FileMaker Server 15 or higher, you need to go with dedicated hosting.
We offer four plans (Micro Team, Small Team, Medium Team, and Large Team – henceforth referred to as Micro, Small, Medium, and Large) designed to cover, accommodate, and service a wide variety of needs and requirements.

Let’s review some of the factors that go into deciding which plan is the best fit for you.

1. File size

Each plan allows you to upload up to 125 database files, but the size of your files is a determining factor in deciding which plan is right for you.

Our dedicated hosting plans offer varying quantities of disk space to accommodate the overall size of your files. Our Micro and Small plans have limited storage. If the files being hosted are too large, it becomes difficult to provide redundant backups without incurring additional costs.

If your files’ total sizes are less than 5 GB, you are probably okay going with the Micro plan. With 60 GB of disk space available, anything larger than 5 GB becomes too big for the standard backup routines that are included with the plan.

What if your FileMaker files are just a little too big for the Micro plan? Then the Small plan should work for you since it can host files up to 10 GB. With either of these plans, you can also purchase additional blocks of 100 GB for $20 a month.

If you have files over 10 GB, then you may want to consider a Medium or Large plan. These servers can hold files up to 150 GB – giving you lots of room for your FileMaker file and even external data too.

2. Performance
What kind of performance do you need and what do you intend to do on your server? If you plan to run continuous routines or regular audit systems, you are going to want to opt for the Medium or Large plan. With more RAM available, these plans are better equipped to handle complex processes that won’t result in lag.

Interested in learning more about FileMaker performance when hosting? Check out this video Marc Larochelle, our CEO, did:

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3. Bandwidth
Depending upon how you use your solution, you may need a lot of bandwidth. Several things can determine if you need unlimited bandwidth:

A. if you work with a lot of interactive containers
B. if you plan to regularly download data to your local machine
C. if you use custom web publishing
D. your backup is going to Dropbox

All of these use a lot of bandwidth, so we’d suggest our Medium or Large plan.

If you use your solution more for regular data entry and as storage for historical documents that you are not downloading daily – you’ll be fine with a Small plan (or maybe even a Micro).

4. Number of FileMaker users / WebDirect access
Here are two more things to consider.

Do you have less than 10 FileMaker Pro users? Look at the Micro Plan. Anything over 10 users, your options are wide open with the Small, Medium or Large plans.

While all plans support FileMaker Go access, only the Small, Medium, and Large Team plans support FileMaker WebDirect access. If you intend to have more than 10 users connecting to your solution via FileMaker Go or you want to use WebDirect, also stay with any plan above the Micro plan. The Small, Medium and Large plans come with 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM, respectively – which is needed if you intend to have a larger number of users connecting remotely.

5. Backups
Each of our dedicated plans have a robust backup schedule. Your ideal plan will depend on your backup needs.

The Micro and Small plans keep a daily backup for 7 days. At any point, your oldest backup will be from one week ago. Additional backups or DropBox storage (for archive purposes) may be requested for an added cost.

If you need more longevity on your backups, you can consider a Medium or Large plan. These plans hold backups for up to one year.

Both plans (Medium and Large) include twice daily backups completed at 12:30 pm and 1:00 am. These daily backups are kept for one (1) week. We then run weekly backups that are kept for one (1) month and monthly backups that are kept for up to one (1) year. For redundancy and disaster recovery, all backups are stored on a 1 TB external drive and a daily backup is uploaded to a dedicated folder on Dropbox (see #6).

If you are considering creating your own backup schedules, we highly recommend the Medium or Large plan. Additional backups can be costly on the Micro or Small plan, due to the fact both are running on AWS. AWS charges per GB of space, as well as bandwidth usage.

6. Dropbox
Do you want your backups available via Dropbox and do you want the ability to access a Dropbox backup up to 365 days later?

Dropbox is automatically included with Medium and Large plans. Dropbox is available with our Micro and Small plans, but it does cost extra. With Dropbox, we can provide you with backups that are up to 365 days old. Dropbox also allows for more redundant storage of your backups.

7. SSL Certificates
We include a wildcard SSL certificate with all of our plans. If you would like a customized SSL cert for a custom domain name or other requirements, this options is available for an additional fee.

One last piece of advice. Before contacting a hosting provider, you should know:
1. How many users you will have using FileMaker Pro, Go, and WebDirect.
2. How many files you want to host, as well as the size of those files.
3. What version of FileMaker Pro and Server you plan to use.

If you’re interested in hosting your solution with us, give us a call today (760-510-1200) and talk to one of our hosting engineers. We’ll discuss your requirements and specifications and get you on track with exactly what you need.

Seven Reasons to Use the FM Credit Card Plug-in with your FileMaker Solution

November 10th, 2017

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FM Credit Card v1 was first released in April of 2011 and discontinued in August of 2015. After increased interest from clients, we decided to bring the plug-in back to life, bigger and better than ever, and released v2 in September of 2017.

If you are a v1 client, you might be wondering, what’s so great about v2? Well, this blog will answer that for you. Here are seven good reasons to upgrade to FM Credit Card version 2.

Don’t feel like reading? Check out this quick video from our CEO, Marc, discussing the plug-in and v2 enhancements:

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1) FileMaker 16 Compatible. FM Credit Card v2 is compatible with FileMaker 14 -16. V1 is compatible with FileMaker 13 (which FileMaker has deprecated support for). Make your solution modern and take advantage of all that FileMaker 16 has to offer.

2) FileMaker 16 Script Steps. With the release of FileMaker 16, we added FileMaker 16 script step functionality to all of our plug-ins. Take advantage of this modern scripting method with version 2. Want to learn more about FileMaker 16 script steps? Here is a video of our CEO, Marc, explaining what they are: YouTube Preview Image

3) Gateway Compatibility. FM Credit Card is now compatible with Authorize.net and Authorize.net emulator gateways, as well as PayPal. And, with version 2, we consolidated all of the gateway-specific plug-in functions to more general functions to make it easier to program your scripts. Our plug-in developer also organized the functions to provide more flexibility and future expandability with the function calls to the plug-in.

4) Security Compliance. Version 2 is compliant with the latest security requirements and industry standards of TLS 1.2. These strict security requirements are mandatory for any modern payment transaction.

5) Card-present transactions. With version 2, if the card is present, you can conveniently swipe it right into FileMaker with a keyboard-emulating card reader – no need to type in the card info.

6) Server-side compatibility. This means you can now integrate with FileMaker Go, FileMaker WebDirect and Custom Web Publishing by way of the “perform script on server” script step. This enhancement greatly expands your deployment options and allows you to construct the exact workflow your company needs – be it on desktop, iOS device, or the web.

7) Free updates. Because FM Credit Card is a SaaS product, we will always ensure it is compatible with the three ever-changing environmental variables including both the Windows and Mac operating systems, the payment gateways themselves (i.e. Authorize.net), and the latest version of FileMaker, which we all know changes yearly. In any and all of these cases, we have you covered. Not only does SaaS cover future compatibility, it includes access to any new features we may build into the plug-in over time.

Starting at $35/year for a single user license, there is no reason not to upgrade! Visit www.fm-creditcard.com today to download the latest plug-in and take it for a test drive in our updated demo.

Core5 Starter Edition CRM – Integrating FileMaker with QuickBooks

November 1st, 2017

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The Core5 Starter Edition CRM comes with an impressive level of QuickBooks integration right out of the box. It can connect to QuickBooks Desktop or Online.

Core5 is preconfigured to:
1. Import Items, Taxes, Customers, and Vendors from QuickBooks
2. Push contacts to QuickBooks
3. Push invoices to QuickBooks
4. Pull balance due for invoices
5. Pull most recent payment date

It also has the ability to set flags on customer or invoice records to notify the user that something has been updated and the customer or invoice record needs to be re-pushed to QuickBooks.

The Core5 can do single record or batch pushes and pulls of contacts, invoices, and payment information.

How to add a new contact to QuickBooks

When you create a new contact there will be a red icon on the record – this indicates the contact is not in QuickBooks. Click “Push to QB” to push the single, new record.

Once it has successfully pushed, the icon will turn green.

If a contact record has already been pushed to QuickBooks, but has been updated – the QB icon will turn orange – indicating it needs to be re-pushed.

Here is a quick video demoing this:
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If you added or edited multiple records, you can push them all to QuickBooks at one time from the Dashboard.

On the Contacts tab, there is a “Push All to QB” button. This will call a script that looks for all new and updated records and pushes them all to QuickBooks at one time.

If you wish to not push a specific record, you can click the omit checkbox and that record will not be pushed.

Here is another quick video showing these actions:
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How to push an invoice to QuickBooks

One of the nice things about the Core5 Starter Edition is its consistency. It is almost the same process to push an invoice to QuickBooks as it is a customer.

Once an invoice is complete, you can push the “Push to QB” button in the top left. The QB icon will be red if the invoice needs to be pushed to QuickBooks, orange if it needs to be re-pushed, and green if it has been pushed and is up-to-date in QuickBooks.

Check out the video below demonstrating this:

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Invoices can also be pushed en masse from the Dashboard. Similar to Contacts, you can click the “Push All to QB” button to push all new and updated invoices to QuickBooks. The omit checkbox will prevent a specific invoice record from being pushed.

Here is your final video:
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How to pull balance due and payment information
Once an invoice has been pushed to QuickBooks, payments can be recorded in QuickBooks and then pulled into the Core5.

To pull balance information, click the green money icon on the invoice record. This will bring over the invoice balance and the date of the most recent payment.

On the Dashboard, you can also do a batch pull of balances due.

Try Core5 yourself with our online WebDirect demo.

Need QuickBooks Licensing? We can give you a discount on Pro, Premier, Enterprise, and Online licensing.

PCI Performs BigCommerce Integration

October 24th, 2017

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We recently assisted a customer integrate BigCommerce with their Core4 CRM FileMaker solution.
BigCommerce is an online platform that helps businesses build an e-commerce presence. The platform allows customers to build and customize their site, take orders, and manage shipping.

Our client sells restoration parts for the MOPAR auto industry and they recently upgraded to FileMaker 16. We were asked to write a routine to help them better integrate BigCommerce with their elaborate FileMaker solution.

Our client had two problems with their daily workflow.

Problem – Duplicate Data Entry
The first issue they were dealing with was redundant data entry. The same product information needed to be entered into FileMaker, BigCommerce, and QuickBooks Online. The client wanted FileMaker to be the main point of entry for data and from there the data could be pushed to QuickBooks Online and BigCommerce.

Problem – Data Accuracy
It is important that all data is consistent across all three programs (QuickBooks Online, FileMaker, and BigCommerce). When an order is created in BigCommerce it is imperative that the data exactly matches what is in FileMaker, because when the order is placed with BigCommerce, it is then imported into QuickBooks Online and subsequently pulled to FileMaker via the FM Books Connector Online Edition plug-in. This cyclical process is easily broken if any of the data does not match across the three programs.

To solve these issues there were two main objectives.

Objective – Pull BigCommerce Categories
The first task was to “pull categories” directly from BigCommerce so that these categories could be used in dropdown lists in FileMaker.

We used FileMaker 16 and cURL to pull the categories directly from BigCommerce using the BigCommerce API. Once these “official categories” were in FileMaker, users could easily and more accurately pick items for use on their sales orders and invoices directly in FileMaker.

In order to add a new category to their FileMaker dropdown list, the user first adds the category in BigCommerce and then clicks a button in FileMaker to pull the new category into their solution.

We also scripted the customer’s solution with the ability to “push categories” from FileMaker to BigCommerce. This gave the customer the option to either pull or push new categories, but we cautioned them against using both options interchangeably. We recommended selecting a consistent direction (for example, always pulling categories) to ensure better workflow and to make internal training easier. To be consistent with their current workflow, we suggested setting up rules that all categories must be first entered into BigCommerce, then pulled into FileMaker.

Objective – Push Products to BigCommerce

The customer keeps all their product items in FileMaker and is accustomed to entering all data there. The customer asked for the ability to “push these product items” to BigCommerce. Product items consist of a product description, pricing, and additional details.

Now, these items are entered and managed in FileMaker and pushed to BigCommerce. Pictures for the product items are stored on an FTP server (to ensure BigCommerce would have public access to them) and each photo is linked to FileMaker.

As part of their updated process to add a new product to BigCommerce, the user enters the necessary information in FileMaker, then clicks a button and, using the cURL technology in FileMaker 16, the data is automatically entered into BigCommerce.

Due to their workflow, the customer only wanted the ability to push one product at a time. However, as with most data transfers, it would have been easy to create a batch push script and loop through a found set of products in FileMaker and push them all to BigCommerce at once. Likewise, a server-side script could be instituted to run every hour to automatically push products from FileMaker, creating a sense of true synchronization between FileMaker and BigCommerce.

Result – Client Impact
Predictably, as a result of this integration the client has seen several hours of time savings per week. This is due to the fact they are no longer entering the same data into multiple systems and they do not have to spend time fixing data errors associated with manual entry or order errors that occurred because of data errors.

Result – Capabilities of FileMaker Data API
As developers, we strive to learn something from every integration. One of our most prominent revelations from working with this client was the increased integration capabilities available with FileMaker 16. We discovered that these kinds of projects (REST API integrations) can be completed in less time and with less overhead (no plug-in to install) than traditional integrations. REST APIs, in general, can be a little tricky to learn, but once the process is understood it opens up a lot of possibilities to interact with data across other platforms.

Musicians Make the Best Developers?

October 20th, 2017

Nord

Our CEO, Marc, recently wrote a blog for Elusive Moose asking the question “Do musicians make the best developers?” and exploring the correlation between developers and musical talent/ inclination. Is there a link there? If so, why?

If you are looking for a fun and quick read, check it out at: https://elusivemoose.com/2017/10/musicians-make-best-developers/

Author: Categories: Chief Executive Officer Tags: