Archive

Archive for 2017

PCI Performs BigCommerce Integration

October 24th, 2017

BigCommerce-logo-dark

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:

macOS High Sierra Compatibility

October 17th, 2017

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macOS High Sierra was released on September 25 and we worked diligently to test and update each of our plug-ins to confirm compatibility with the new OS. If you have updated to High Sierra make sure you download an updated plug-in.

Each plug-in comes with an updated demo file and many plug-ins feature new functionality, updated documentation, and bug fixes.

Plug-ins:
FM Books Connector Online v2.0.3.1: Available for client or server-side deployment and compatible with FileMaker Cloud, the FM Books Connector Online Edition connects FileMaker with QuickBooks Online. Users can save time and money by eliminating double entry of contacts, invoices or sales transactions. This release also includes additional plug-in enhancements and functionality.

Address Book Manipulator v4.0.2.1: The Address Book Manipulator allows users to update all contacts in FileMaker or Apple Contacts and then easily push the information from one application to the other, ensuring contact information is always up-to-date.

iCal Manipulator v2.0.2.1: The iCal Manipulator plug-in directly connects FileMaker with Apple Calendar. The plug-in supports multiple calendars, recurring events, and tasks. This release also includes additional plug-in enhancements and functionality.

FM Credit Card v2.0.0.0: Available for client and server-side deployments, FM Credit Card connects a user’s FileMaker solution to their preferred merchant services provider. Productive Computing also offers low-priced, basic integration packages for this plug-in.

PDF Manipulator DC v1.0.2.1: The PDF Manipulator DC Edition enables users to create a searchable document management system and process forms faster by extracting and inserting data between PDF form fields and FileMaker.

File Manipulator v4.0.2.1: File Manipulator can copy, move, rename, or delete files and folders directly from a FileMaker solution. In addition, it can compress and encrypt file data with password protection, as well as decompress and decrypt file data.

Change Printer v4.0.8.1: The Change Printer plug-in automatically changes printers, sets optional printing attributes, facilitates the coordination of large and complex print procedures, and easily switches between various types of printers/drivers.

Solutions:
Core5 Starter Edition v1.0.2.1: The Core5 Starter Edition is an intuitive and easy-to-use CRM solution. Pre-configured to connect with QuickBooks Desktop or Online, the Core5 is designed to be easy to customize and immediately deployable.

Core4 CRM v3.0.0.5: Core4 is a robust and expandable CRM solution. This business tool allows users to track everything from contacts to sales transactions and calendar appointments to notes and documents. The Core4 can connect with QuickBooks and Outlook for Windows, Apple Contacts, and Apple Calendar.

For additional information on product functionality, updates, and integration details, please contact sales@productivecomputing.com or call 760-510-1200.

Let’s talk integration – FileMaker to QuickBooks Integration

September 28th, 2017

FM_to_QB
Earlier in the year our CEO, Marc, did a webinar for the Blue Feather Group/ Atlanta FileMaker Dev Group all about integrating FileMaker and QuickBooks – but before we get into that, let’s talk a bit about why Marc spoke on this topic.

Here at Productive Computing we have made it our business to know all there is about QuickBooks and FileMaker integrations and to offer our clients an array of products and services to help them get up and running with an integration.

We offer:
– The FM Books Connector plug-in for QuickBooks Desktop
– The FM Books Connector Online Edition plug-in for QuickBooks Online
Core4 CRM and Core5 Starter Edition CRM (both of which come preconfigured to connect with QuickBooks)
123sync Accounting Integrator, which offers two fixed-price integration plans for QuickBooks Desktop
– Custom development services to assist you with your integration
– Discounts on both FileMaker and QuickBooks licensing

We actively work to make it as easy as possible for clients to connect two of the most important office software solutions.

We’re also proud to announce that we just released FM Books Connector v10. And, let us tell you, it has aged beautifully. This plug-in is compatible with QuickBooks 2014–2018 and FileMaker Pro 14-16 (32-bit and 64-bit).

As we alluded to earlier, we’re authorized Intuit resellers and, because of that, we are able to offer great rates on QuickBooks Desktop 2018 Pro, Premier, Enterprise, and Online licensing.

Now, for the real reason you clicked on this blog – the FileMaker and QuickBooks integration webinar.

For your viewing pleasure and to be sensitive to the fact you don’t have all day to watch webinars, I have detailed out what topics begin at what time. If you want to start at the beginning, you can just watch it from the video below.

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At minute 7:08 Marc begins his discussion on QuickBooks and FileMaker integrations. He discusses the various QuickBooks integration products mentioned above and why there is no plug-in for QuickBooks Desktop for Mac (hint: it’s because there is no SDK).

At 11:00 minutes he discusses why businesses use QuickBooks and why people want FileMaker and QuickBooks integrations.

Starting at 15:50, he discusses what a typical desktop integration looks like and at 17:20 he reviews how a developer can do a desktop integration (custom integration, integration package, starter solution).

At 26:10 Marc begins his first demo to show importing contacts and items from QuickBooks into FileMaker and at 33:10 he turns on the debugger to show the “under the hood” of the import for items, taxes, customers, and vendors.

At 45:10 Marc demonstrates a FileMaker to QuickBooks push, specifically of a new customer.

At 48:20 Marc answers the question, why not just use the FileMaker field validation functions and discusses handling field validation.

At 57:00 Marc starts to discuss batch pushes to QuickBooks.

At 1:01:30 Marc discusses some QuickBooks rules that affect FileMaker and QuickBooks integrations and begins to answer some Q&A.

At 1:06:40 Marc discusses the Intuit OSR (onscreen reference).

At 1:08:00 David, a FileMaker developer, shares his own story learning how to do a custom integration with QuickBooks and FileMaker.

Hopefully this helped you and answered a few questions you might have had about integrating FileMaker with QuickBooks. For more information please feel free to check out our website www.productivecomputing.com or contact us at sales@productivecomputing.com.

Which is right for your integration? Outlook Manipulator or Exchange Manipulator SE?

September 7th, 2017

OM-VS-EM
If you are interested in integrating your FileMaker solution with Microsoft Exchange or Outlook and you have taken a peek at our site, you have probably seen that we offer a plug-in for each. To further muddy the issue – you’ve probably noticed that the Outlook Manipulator works within the Exchange Environment.

So which plug-in is right for your integration- Outlook Manipulator or Exchange Manipulator SE?

We have a comparison chart you can reference if you have feature specific questions, such as, “I need to manage contact data including photos; which plug-in should I use?”.

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If your questions are a bit more complex, we’ve outlined a few user scenarios that could help you make a decision.

When to use Outlook Manipulator:

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1) “Speed is paramount.”

If you want immediate or expedient responses from the plug-in and want to see your data appear immediately in your mail program (in this case, Outlook). Although the Exchange Manipulator SE plug-in will get the data into your mailbox quickly, it will still take time for the background syncing processes to pull and populate the data within your app from the Exchange account.
Outlook Manipulator, in this case, would be best because it is being generated first in Outlook and then pushed to the Exchange account via the sync mechanism.

2) “I use iCloud/Google/an IMAP account for my mail/contacts/calendar events.”

If you are using a non-Exchange account for managing your mail, contacts, and/or calendar events then you need to go with Outlook Manipulator. The Exchange Manipulator SE plug-in is only designed to communicate with Exchange accounts; it cannot access iCloud/Google/IMAP/POP3 accounts. The Outlook Manipulator, since it communicates to Outlook directly, is able to talk to these other account types because Outlook can talk to these other account types.

3) “I don’t have the budget to perform a lengthy plug-in scripting migration.”

Converting the scripts and schema that reference Outlook Manipulator to use Exchange Manipulator may be costly or time consuming; though the functions are nearly identical in name, their underlying mapping, how each function is recognized and specified in FileMaker’s scripting engine, is completely different. If you don’t want to convert the plug-in, we offer development assistance using the Migration Guide and a paid tech support call (or two, depending on how much needs to be converted), or you can simply continue to use Outlook Manipulator.

When to use Exchange Manipulator SE:

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1) “I need to access my mailbox information while out in the field.”

If you work on the go and need a mobile solution (or already have one) then you need the flexibility that a FileMaker Server enabled plug-in offers. The Exchange Manipulator SE will allow you to push and pull data from FileMaker Server – you can do that via Perform Script on Server (for FileMaker Go) or directly from a WebDirect interface.

2) “I need to phase out my robot syncing machine” / “I don’t want to set up a robot machine to sync.”

Again, this is tapping into the power of a server-side plug-in. Your robot machine is/would be set up to push and pull data with an Exchange account or multiple Exchange accounts and this process can be completely replaced by setting up scheduled scripts to be performed by FileMaker Server. Processes can be automated in these scripts for performing mass pushes of information from FileMaker to Exchange pulling data in or performing any combination of features the Exchange Manipulator SE plug-in offers.

There are, of course, other situations that may muddy the water between which plug-in to use. Hopefully, these guidelines have given you a better idea about which plug-in is the best choice for your situation. If not, give us a call at 760-510-1200! We’re happy to talk with you about your integration situation and help you determine which plug-in is right for you.

Check out www.outlookmanipulator.com or www.exchangemanipulator.com for more information on each plug-in.