FileMaker is a great development platform. However one feature they haven’t given us is native data synchronization. Until they do, we as developers need to find our own solutions.
A number of firms have developed products for the community to choose from, and this is the first in a series of articles attempting to review them all and give our opinions on how they rate.
As a Platinum firm we explored and even built, our own synchronization product (we never released it because we didn’t feel it added enough to the communities options to warrant the effort to deploy and support successfully). We also did our first product based synchronization in 2006, back before FileMaker 7 even. It was a different world then. So I have a long standing interest in synchronization tools and their effectiveness.
I thought it would benefit us as a firm to do an internal review of the synchronization products there were for the purposes of choosing one or more tools we could recommend to our clients. Over the next few posts I’ll share our results with everyone else in case they benefit anyone else.
First the setup and some disclaimers.
We wanted as close to a real world test as we could get, without dedicating an inordinate amount internal resources to it. We also wanted the person doing the work to be somewhat representative of the typical deployer. For us that meant using an intern.
For us this year that meant turning to Patrick Cardwell. He is a college student who had never launched Filemaker before joining us, but is a CSE major, so has above average technical expertise. His only training before beginning this project was to go through the FTS himself to gain product familiarity. We had him integrate each of the tools with the Invoices starter solution included in FileMaker Pro 13.
All testing was done with a local copy of server running on a windows laptop, and a mobile device on an iPod touch over local wifi. We took minimal hardware but the lowest possible latency to minimize network issues, but to maximize the effect of code efficiency on the process. We have thus far tested three tools successfully. We are hoping to add three more, one we’ve just heard of this week. To date we have tested:
We are hoping to continue with the testing and include:
Our review and testing is going to cover 6 areas:
- Ease of integration for the first attempt
- Ease of subsequent integrations (once you know the tool does it get easier)
- Ease of deploying new versions post deployment
- Feature comparison
- Speed of synchronizing data
- Speed of synchronizing containers
For us the process so far has been interesting and educational. We’ll post a new tools review each week on Friday. If you have any thoughts, questions or comments, please leave them below.