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Our First FileMaker Cloud Compatible Plug-in – FM Books Connector Online Edition

August 8th, 2017

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With the advent of FileMaker Cloud (FMC), we took a close look at our list of plug-ins and selected the one we felt was the best candidate for Linux compatibility. As any business owner knows – most business decisions come down to time and resources. We knew making a plug-in Linux compatible was not necessarily going to be a small investment on the part of our plug-in developer’s time and talent.

We needed to choose the plug-in that we felt would be most attractive to FMC users and we decided that our FM Books Connector Online Edition plug-in was the best choice. We felt the customer profile for this plug-in was a good fit. Given the fact that QuickBooks Online users are already hosting their QuickBooks files in the cloud, they may be more likely to host their FileMaker solution in the cloud, as well.

With the FMC compatible version of the FM Books Connector Online Edition plug-in clients can now host their FileMaker solutions in the cloud, giving their staff access to pertinent customer information and the ability to push and pull customers, invoices, and other transaction information from anywhere and on any device.

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What is the difference between a single user (client-side) and server-side plug-in?

A client-side plug-in needs to be installed on a user’s computer for them to run any push and pull scripts between FileMaker and QuickBooks. If you plan on having multiple users, integrating with a client-side plug-in requires that you purchase multiple users and install the plug-in on multiple computers. Additionally, users will only be able to push or pull data between FileMaker and QuickBooks when running the solution in FileMaker Pro. With a client-side plug-in, there is no ability to update records or communicate with QuickBooks when using FileMaker Go or WebDirect.

Installing a server-side plug-in on your server allows unlimited users (per server) to push and pull data between FileMaker and QuickBooks. By utilizing the server-side plug-in to handle the processing, users on FileMaker Pro, iPad and iPhone (via FileMaker Go), and WebDirect have the ability to push and pull data between FileMaker and QuickBooks Online without having to install a client-side plug-in.

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Why FileMaker Cloud?

It is important that your solution is as mobile as your workforce. FileMaker Cloud runs on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform and is considered to be an affordable and easily scalable hosting option for FileMaker users.

If you are interested in hosting your solution, but are unfamiliar with AWS, we offer setup and consultation services that cover the initial setup of your FileMaker Cloud account on AWS. This service can also include training if you intend to manage the server yourself. For those not interested in managing their FileMaker Cloud account, we offer monthly managed services that include all labor associated with maintaining your server – so you can be as hands on or hands off as you want.

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Why Integrate FileMaker with QuickBooks?

Does your sales team spend time filling out orders that your accountant then has to spend additional time re-typing into QuickBooks to create an invoice? With a FileMaker and QuickBooks integration, your sales team can create an order in FileMaker and push it to QuickBooks, where it is automatically turned into an invoice.

In your office, is your bookkeeper the only person with access to customer data in QuickBooks? If this is the case, something as simple as following up on a recent payment or invoice balance can require a call or email from a sales team member to the accounting department and then a subsequent QuickBooks search and a return call or email from accounting with the answer. This workflow not only interrupts and distracts your team, it causes delays when a sales team member is trying to follow up with a client.

A potential workaround would be for the accountant to send out weekly or monthly spreadsheets with all clients and corresponding outstanding balances. However, these spreadsheets take time to create and become out of date and inaccurate the moment a new payment is received.

Another workaround to this situation is buying multiple QuickBooks licenses and giving your sales team access to QuickBooks, but that can result in too many people accessing your sensitive QuickBooks file.

Integrating FileMaker and QuickBooks can solve these issues and help avoid workarounds, giving your sales team access to customer balances and payment information directly in FileMaker – ensuring the information is always readily available and up-to-date.

VSS V 2.4: How to Push Invoices and Pull Balances with QuickBooks

July 11th, 2017

If your VSS system is configured with QuickBooks (Desktop or Online) using our FM Books Connector plug-in, you can push invoices to and pull payment and balance information from QuickBooks.

Please contact PCI if you wish to configure VSS with QuickBooks.

Before we begin, it is important to note that VSS is equipped with colored icons that indicate an order’s status in QuickBooks:

1. Red: Has not been pushed to QB/ needs to be pushed
2. Orange: Order has been pushed to QuickBooks and it needs to be updated/ re-pushed to QuickBooks
3. Green: Order is up-to-date in QuickBooks

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VSS can push and pull information about cases one at a time or in batches, we’ll first cover how to push and pull information for a single case.

How to Push a Single Invoice to QuickBooks:
Once you have a completed order, you can push it to QuickBooks by locating the sync icon next to the “Pushed to QB” field.

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When you click this icon, you will see a series of popups as the invoice pushes. The first will ask if you wish to continue, the next will indicate the invoice is pushing, and the third will indicate if the invoice pushed correctly.

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After you have pushed the invoice, you will notice that the “Pushed to QB” field will indicate the date of the push and the icon next to the field will be green.

If you make edits to the line items on an order – such as fix a price or adjust a quantity – after it has been pushed to QuickBooks, the icon next to the “Pushed to QB” field will turn orange. You can then push the sync icon again and it will update the invoice in QuickBooks.

How to Pull an Invoice Balance or Paid On Date:
You can post payments in QuickBooks and pull over balance information to VSS. To pull payment information, click the sync icon next to the “Paid On” field.

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If your order has been paid in full then the Paid On field will populate with the date the invoice was paid. If your invoice has an open balance, you will get a popup stating the amount of the remaining balance and the “Paid On” field will remain blank.

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The More Info tab provides you with additional information such as the QuickBooks ID, the date the invoice was pushed QuickBooks, the last time the balance was checked, and the invoice’s current balance.

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How to View your Invoice in QuickBooks
To view your invoice in QuickBooks, you can go up to the top menu bar, click on the QB drop down list and click “View in QuickBooks”.

Your order must be pushed to QuickBooks before you can view it in QuickBooks.

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Clicking this option will open up the invoice in your QuickBooks file for easy reference and editing.

How to Push Multiple Orders to QuickBooks at One Time (Batch Pushing):
To push multiple orders to QuickBooks at once, you must first mark the order as reviewed.

When an order is received back from a captain, the status will change to “Ready to Process” and a button will appear that says “Mark as Reviewed”.

Once you have reviewed the order and confirmed that it is correct, you click the “Mark as Reviewed” button and the order’s status will change to “Reviewed”.

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When you are in list view, you can click the “Push Reviewed to QB” button and the system will push all orders marked as “Reviewed” to QuickBooks. If you have modified an order that has been pushed to QuickBooks and the icon is orange, this “Push Reviewed to QB” will also push modified orders to QuickBooks again.

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You can also use the list view to do a mass pull of balances. The pull balances button will query QuickBooks for any balances due or paid invoices and update the system appropriately.

FileMaker Server 16 Dedicated Hosting Now Available

May 19th, 2017

FileMaker Server 16 was released on May 9, 2017, and with it came an impressive increase in capacity. This optimization (see image below) will make it even easier for companies to scale their solutions and deal with increased user connections.

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To accompany these capacity increases, there are a number of new features as well – enough to sway even the most resistant of adapters.

New to FileMaker Server 16:

1. FileMaker Data API Trial: From now until September 27, 2018, you can use your FileMaker data in other applications and services with REST-based FileMaker Data API. For more information, check out this forum thread: https://community.filemaker.com/thread/173693

2. Tableau Web Data Connector for FileMaker: Tableau makes it easier to visualize your FileMaker Data. According to FileMaker’s website, the connector is a FileMaker Data API that provides integration with Tableau Desktop.

3. PDF Support: You can run automated reports and save PDFs using scripts performed on FileMaker Server.

4. OAuth 2.0 Support for Accounts: FileMaker Server is all about security. Simplify your credential management by specifying OAuth 2.0 third party authentication providers – such as Amazon, Google, or Microsoft Azure.
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For each FileMaker release, we work hard to prepare and ensure that our clients can utilize the new features available. To accommodate the increase in system requirement necessary to run FileMaker Server 15 and 16, we have doubled the RAM on our Small Team Plan from 4GB to 8GB. Clients can now get up and running with the latest technologies on their own dedicated server for $149/mo.

Every PCI Dedicated Hosting plan includes:
Free personalized setup – we talk with you about your requirements and then we do all the work necessary to get you hosted – giving you more time to focus on your priorities.

Fully managed dedicated server – just another perk of hosting with a third party, we handle ALL labor associated with operating and proactively managing your server.

SSL Certificate – included. That’s one less cost and hassle that you need to worry about.

FileMaker Server Admin Console access – in the event you want to manage or upload files – or set scheduled backups or scheduled scripts.

Unlimited users – scalability! As long as you have the licenses, you can have as many users as you want ( FMS 16 limits you to 500 concurrent connection – so unlimited is a relative term).

Regular automatic backups – schedules and redundancy vary based upon your plan, but if something should happen to your solution, we have you covered with a recent backup.

Dropbox availability – Dropbox is included with our Medium Workgroup and Large Department plans, but a little extra for our Small Team plan ($10/mo).

Access to FileMaker certified developers – we are just a call or email away. With support available almost 24/7, you’ll get the assistance you need in a timely manner.

Secure uploads, downloads and connections – utilizing the latest technologies and the strictest practices ensures your data is safe and secure from prying eyes and that your system itself is running like a fortress – constantly monitored by our experts.

PHP/ CWP/ ODBC/ JDBC/ XML access – integrate your solution and server with a variety of technologies.

Upload speeds of up to 100 MB/s – because no one likes waiting.

Clients can bring their own FileMaker Server license or purchase a license from Productive Computing at a discount. For more information, please visit www.filemakerhostingservice.com or call 760-510-1200.

Inspiring a New Generation of FileMaker Developers – PCI Focuses on Hiring Local Talent

March 17th, 2017

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Back in February, Productive Computing’s CEO, Marc Larochelle, was invited to speak to the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) club at California State University San Marcos.

During his talk, Marc showcased the FileMaker platform, including the numerous connection points to other database systems, technologies, and plug-ins. He also explored the new FileMaker Cloud hosting option that is available through Amazon Web Services (AWS).

As a live demonstration of the capability of FileMaker, Marc created a database that would track a list of member names and the group attendance across the school year. The database featured a dashboard that displayed the data – complete with graphs and charts. Marc accessed this database on a desktop, iPad, and via the web – showcasing the variety of access points available with FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go, and FileMaker WebDirect and just how quick it is to create and deploy an app.

The president of the ACM club, Omid Azodi, remarked, “After taking a database course, I can see how powerful FileMaker is, how visual it is, and that it is low on the coding side for queries, etc. All the students I talked to really enjoyed the demo and learned a lot from it.”

One of the goals of the speaking engagement was not only to expose students to FileMaker, but also to expose them to Productive Computing as a potential employer. Productive Computing has hired over half their staff from local universities. Five of their current 15 employees were hired from Cal State San Marcos.

When asked why he enjoys these types of presentations, Marc said, “As a resident of North County for over 25 years, I love this place and I want to give back in any way that I can. We work hard to hire local talent from our universities, and we make a point to do these kinds of presentations – because it not only showcases the FileMaker platform to a new generation of developers, but it also demonstrates to students that the skills they are learning in their classes have a very real, direct application once they graduate. Productive Computing believes in investing in its community and supporting the strong economy in North County.”

Former Cal State San Marcos students and current Productive Computing employees include: Francis (hosting and tech support), Jeff (hosting and solution development), Chris (plug-in development), William (developer), and Stephanie (marketing and product coordination).

“When I was going to school back in 2012, I had the opportunity to see Marc present on FileMaker. I was really intrigued and approached him after the presentation to inquire about employment opportunities. Productive Computing allowed me to work part-time while I was in school and then I had a full-time job waiting for me when I graduated.” Chris, plug-in developer.

The transition from school life to the “real world” can be difficult for students, many wonder what a typical day in the life of a career professional looks like or if they will be able to apply the skills they have learned in school to their daily jobs. Francis, who graduated in 2015 with a B.S. in Computer Science, reflected that many of the classes he took at California State San Marcos have helped him perform his job at Productive Computing. “Intro to Networking helped me with basic troubleshooting techniques and my Database Management Systems class taught me about working with general database systems and how to develop ERDs (entity-relationship diagrams) to plan out and design databases – especially FileMaker and SQL.”

“While the classes I took at Cal State provided me with a great ground work of valuable knowledge, the one real takeaway from CSUSM was that my classes always put an emphasis on working as a team to accomplish something.” Francis remarked. “That’s something that I find is a big part about working here at Productive Computing. You will hear everyone in the office asking each other questions and tapping into one another’s knowledge and experience to help come up with the best possible solution for a given issue.”

Our solutions architect and main hosting engineer, Jeff, was an active member and officer of the ACM club during his time at CSUSM and attended two presentations by Marc Larochelle during his four years there. “I was pretty amazed by the capabilities of FileMaker 12 when I attended Marc’s first presentation. Then, a year later, Marc and Chris returned to present the latest features of FileMaker 13 and demonstrated how quickly a developer could create and deploy a solution that was accessible via FileMaker Go. When the ACM club hosted a job fair for the Computer Science community, Productive Computing was the first company that I gave a resume to. Within my first month working with FileMaker, I was working on client solutions doing custom development for desktop and mobile environments. FileMaker, in my opinion, is a simple to learn platform with great scalability and almost endless opportunity.”

Reflecting on his education at CSUSM, Jeff commented, “While I was a student, I took a job as a learning assistant and grader for the Data Structures course. Reviewing code written by other students was an eye-opening experience. I graded so many different solutions for a single problem that it made me realize there are always new ways to improve existing code, schema, or design. This realization drives me to solve problems and build solutions that bring Productive Computing’s products to the next level. Efficiency is key and I’m always looking for better ways to process data, enhance user interfaces, and strengthen workflows.”

When asked about his hiring practices, Marc said, “Keith and I are so proud and lucky to be in a position to offer career opportunities for computer science graduates from universities right in our own backyard. It has been so satisfying to watch these candidates go from being a college student to a first-time career employee in a job that is in-line with their degree. Our training program, which gives new developers the ability to learn FileMaker quickly, allows us to offer full-time positions to graduates right out of college, whereas other high-tech employers are typically only able to provide an internship to the same college grad.

“There’s really nothing more rewarding than seeing the next generation of FileMaker developers come alive with the same enthusiasm and inspiration I first had when I learned FileMaker back in 1991.”

Introducing BYO Cloud Setup, Consultation, and Account Management Services

October 13th, 2016

 

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FileMaker’s newest offering, FileMaker Cloud, is available through the Amazon Web Services Marketplace and provides reliable access to custom apps in the cloud. Users can get the simplicity, performance, and reliability they’ve come to expect from the FileMaker Platform without having to spend time and resources deploying and maintaining a traditional on-site server. With FileMaker Cloud you’ll get low up-front costs, speedy deployment, minimal administrative overhead, instant scalability, and more.

In order to help our customer’s get started with FileMaker Cloud, we have two new services available.

1. BYO Cloud Setup and Consultation – To someone unfamiliar with AWS, setting up a server may seem daunting and could take more time than you have available. Our FileMaker certified developers and Amazon Web Services experts will set up and configure your entire FileMaker Cloud and AWS account for you.

Licensing: We can help you purchase your licensing through the Amazon Marketplace or you can bring your own license. FileMaker Cloud requires FileMaker Licensing for Teams: hourly or annual. It is possible to convert existing FLT licenses to FileMaker Cloud. FileMaker allows a 30 day transitionary period for these conversions.

Instance Type Selection: Depending on your needs, usage, and computing power we will help you choose what type of instance (t2.small, t2.medium, m4.xlarge, etc.) you will want to purchase.

Storage Space Requirements: Based upon the size of your FileMaker solution and desired backup disk space, we can help you ensure that you’re only paying for the space you need.

SSL Certificate Installation: FileMaker Cloud accounts come with a free 90 day trail of a Comodo SSL certificate. If you intend to bring your own SSL certificate, we can install that for you.

FileMaker Cloud Dashboard Review: If you would like to monitor your AWS account going forward, we can walk you through the details and explain each metric on the dashboard.

Backup Process Explanation: It is important to understand how you can access your backups. We’ll show you how to preserve a specific backup and how to restore your solution back to a specific point.

ESS / ODBC / JDBC Access: Stands for External SQL Data Sources, Open Database Connectivity, Java Database Connectivity and deals with data transfer and database accessibility.

Plug-in Installation: FileMaker Cloud supports Linux based plug-ins. It is a good idea to check with your plug-in provider for availability of Linux plug-ins.

FileMaker Database Upload: Once your server is up and running, we’ll make sure your solution is correctly migrated and ready to be accessed.

Hosted File Connection Instructions: In order to take full advantage of the remote access features available with hosting, we’ll provide connection instructions on how to access your database from FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go, and FileMaker WebDirect.

Consultation for FileMaker Cloud and AWS: Our Setup and Consultation package includes consultation services to train you how to manage your FileMaker Cloud account yourself. We can instruct you in FileMaker Cloud management, AWS navigation, and FileMaker Cloud billing.

2. The BYO Cloud Managed Service plan includes all labor associated with maintaining your server.  Our AWS experts and FileMaker certified developers will monitor and maintain your FileMaker Cloud so you don’t have to.

Maintenance of your Server – We will handle all coordination and “rollout” of OS and FileMaker Cloud updates.

FileMaker Cloud License Management – If you need to “scale up” and add connections, we can provide assistance adding connections and updating your licenses.

Instance Adjustments – As your organization and hosting requirements grow, we can upgrade you to a larger instance, giving you more file space and faster computing power.

Storage Space Expansions – Is your solution growing? Upgrade your disk space to accommodate for larger file sizes and backup space requirements. Our staff can assess your hosting needs to ensure you’re not paying for something you don’t need.

SSL Certificate Installation – FileMaker Cloud comes with a free 90 day trial of a Comodo SSL. If you intend to use your own certificate, we can handle all installations of new, updated, or renewed SSL certificates.

FileMaker Cloud Dashboard Monitoring – We proactively monitor and review all dashboard metrics to ensure you’re operating at optimal capacity.

Backup Preservation and Restoration – We’ll manage on-demand backup preservation and restoration of your FM Cloud.

ESS / ODBC / JDBC Access – If you have changes in how you access and transfer your data, we’ll update your configuration.

Plug-in Installation – Expanding your solution’s capabilities with a server side plug-in? Let us know and we’ll handle the installation for you.

FileMaker Database Upload – Have updates to your database that you want to make live? Need to add another file to your solution? We can assist with database management – we’ll upload the file and make sure you can easily connect.

Hosted File Connection Assistance – If you lose your link, delete your shortcut, or need help connecting a new employee to your database, we can provide connection assistance to your database for FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go, and FileMaker WebDirect.

General Support for FileMaker Cloud and AWS – We’re always here to offer support and assistance and answer questions on basic usability and best practices.

BYO Cloud is one of multiple hosting options we offer. Check out www.filemakerhosting.com for more information on our FileMaker Cloud services, as well as Shared and Dedicated hosting plans. Want to figure out what type of hosting is best for you- shared, dedicated, cloud, AWS, FileMaker Server? Call us at 760-510-1200. Email us at sales@productivecomputing.com.