Quite often we want to take much of the data included in a FileMaker database and make it available to a large audience without the need for them to own the FileMaker application and have it installed on their computer. To do this, we can utilize custom web publishing to make the information avaialable to any person with an internet connection and web browser like FireFox, Safari, Chrome, or Internet Explorer.
There are several ways to build customized web solutions based on FileMaker Pro:
- IWP (Instant Web Publishing)
- Connect to an existing web site database like MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server via ESS (External SQL Sources) and synchronize the data.
- Connect the web site directly to the FileMaker database as a backend via the FileMaker API for PHP (Application Programming Interface for the PHP language)
Option 1: IWP – Instant Web Publishing
We almost never recommend IWP. It converts FileMaker layouts automatically to web site pages on the fly. Although it is interesting technology, it is not easily scalable to many users and limited in its functionality and reliability. There is some speculation that it may no longer be supported in future versions of FileMaker Pro.
Option 2: ESS - External SQL Sources
Connecting to an existing web site database via ESS is a great option especially if you need to scale your web site to thousands of users or the web site already exists. It also allows for division of development labor. One developer can be responsible for the front end user facing web site and another developer can work on the back-end administrative FileMaker database with lots of reporting features for use in the office.
We build custom web sites with WordPress and integrate them with FileMaker. It offloads the processing of the website completely to the web server and an associated MySQL database that we synchronize with the FileMaker solution. It makes use of the strengths of both platforms effectively.
Option 3: FileMaker API for PHP
The first FileMaker PHP interface was a product called fx.php. It is no longer used as much. The officially supported product for custom web publishing today is known as the “FileMaker API for PHP”. It can be a good option…and here we include a listing of some resources that will assist in learning more about the API.
Resources for Learning and Utilizing the FileMaker API for PHP:
- Official FileMaker API Documentation.
- Or find the official FileMaker API docs on your local FileMaker server at… http://SERVERNAMEORIPADDRESS:16000/docs/PHP%20API%20Documentation/index.html
or find your FileMaker Server installation folder and go to
./FileMaker Server/Examples/PHP, and
./FileMaker Server/Documentation/PHP API Documentation/.
- FileMaker Server Custom Web Publishing with PHP white paper from FileMaker.
- Web Publishing with PHP and FileMaker 9 by Jonathan Stark. Also available for Kindle to save some money and ink. The book is still relevent despite the FileMaker 9 in the title.
- FileMaker API for PHP Documentation Quick Reference from Jonathan Stark.
- Jonathan Stark’s FileMaker for PHP Developers article from PHP Architect Magazine part 1 and part 2.
- FileMaker API for PHP eBook by Todd Duell from Formulations Pro
- FileMaker Web Publishing: A Complete Guide to Using the API for PHP by Allyson Olm, Stephen Knight, and Michael Petrov.
- fmWebSchool also has an application plug-in for DreamWeaver that assists in writing the code called fmStudio.
- API for FileMaker PDF Cheat Sheet 1 and Cheat Sheet 2.
- Geoff Coffey’s FileMaker PHP API Tutorial.
- Quick Web Solutions Tutorial.
- Soliant Consulting has developed a lightweight PHP layer called SimpleFM.
- U of MN FileMaker Custom Web Publishing Tutorial
- VTC FileMaker and PHP Foundations video course by Lance Hallberg
General PHP learning resources:
If you have any other resources that you feel might apply, feel free to add a comment below.