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FileMaker <-> Web using External SQL Data Sources (ESS)

A client for whom we have done a lot of FileMaker programming over the years wanted to expand a portion of their FileMaker system to the web and asked us to come up with a solution.

After reviewing their business needs for the project, we chose to use FileMaker External SQL Data Sources (ESS) technology because it enabled us to create a FileMaker <-> Web system that has the best of both worlds. The client already had a web application hosted on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform running on a LAMP stack. In consultation with the client, we decided to host the web portion of the new FileMaker <-> Web application on the same platform in order to keep their technology portfolio as simple and consistent as possible.

The FileMaker portion of the system allowed us to do things that would either be impossible using web technology or would take much more time and budget to implement. Additionally, by utilizing a "hybrid" approach we were able to preserve the substantial investment that the client had made in automating their business processes using FileMaker and leverage the FileMaker knowledge that they had developed in-house.

The Web portion of the system is a no-compromise implementation using standards compliant HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL and Web service integration. Features include: best practice security, integration with the USPS address validation Web service, dynamic on-the-fly PDF generation, user file uploads, and more.

The FileMaker portion of the system utilizes many of the powerful and easy to implement features for which FileMaker is known for...including the previously mentioned ESS, conditional formatting, script triggers, multikey relationships and much, much more...all built on a well thought out data model and process flow.

The project cycle consisted of iterative rounds of development supported by the creation of a collection of documentation resources including: the database entity relationship, process flows, network architecture, website map, Amazon Web Services technology overview and a variety of simple yet useful "words and pictures" documents.

We worked very closely with the client's internal team, together making course adjustments as the project proceeded and the specifications evolved.

The FileMaker <-> Web solution was delivered on budget and on time. The client is enjoying a positive and satisfying return on investment.


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