FileMaker – Instant Web Publishing [IWP] … R.I.P.

I’m sure we can think of some examples of where the deployment of Instant Web Publishing [IWP] for a solution has been successful and served to meet purpose for the end user. There are many examples, however, where IWP has been considered but the limitations proved too much of a stretch to be incorporated into a solution.

So our companion, who has journeyed with us from FileMaker 4, is to journey no further. Filemaker 13 brings us the new shinny WebDirect. In order to appreciate the new, it is fair to examine the shortcomings that were inherent in IWP.  The major shortcomings were as follows:

  • A major consideration was the inability to maintain state via a web browser, IWP simply didn’t behave like users were used to in FileMaker Pro.  Slow web speeds would also give interaction a “clunky” feel.
  • Limitations of list views to 25 records at a time meant that portal use was expanded, not necessarily to a solutions benefit.
  • File insertion of documents [Excel, Word, pdf] was not an available native function in IWP, though the use of plug-ins did offer a solution.
  •  Continuing the “clunky” theme the user interface, always critical to any development, wasn’t helped by restrictions and variations that would drive a developer to distraction. No rounded buttons, no conditional formatting and text / object alignment that had a will of its own.
  • The record “state” issue rendered script triggers a redundant feature too. Data changes needed to be committed to the database via a script refresh and if you were a fan of windows in your solutions, you would have to rethink your methods considerably as windows would not be an operative function.
  • The import and export of data, something so important to database functionality was not possible either.

Yet, with all these factors, IWP had a place. More importantly, however, its existence demonstrated the need in the marketplace for a database product that could be translated to a dynamic web interface.

With the demise of IWP, FileMaker have introduced WebDirect to pick up the baton and in my next article I’ll look at which functions in WebDirect are new or enhanced for this product feature.

Simon Ward

Simon has been developing FileMaker databases since the late 90s and joined Linear Blue in 2006. Over this time he has developed database systems for clients in many different industries from Order Processing to Book Publishing. Simon’s BSc in Chemistry from Thames Valley University comes to the fore in his analytical skills and he is certified in FileMaker versions 7 through 12.

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