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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.

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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.

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

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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:

Let’s talk integration – FileMaker to QuickBooks Integration

September 28th, 2017

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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.

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.