Tim Dietrich

Custom Software Developer

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FMEasyWeb Update / fmFoo Announcement

When Hal Gumbert and I first started discussing EasyWeb last fall, our goal was to create an alternative browser-based FileMaker client. Admittedly, that was quite an ambitious goal. We did get pretty far along with it, and while it did support a lot of the functionality that we thought was essenital, we quickly realized that we would never be able to match the functionality and fidelity that FileMaker WebDirect offers.

So we changed our plan a bit, and decided that a better use of our efforts might be to provide FileMaker developers - and particularly those who do not have experience with Custom Web Publishing - with a way to easily publish information in FileMaker databases to the Web, and to collect information from the Web-based forms. That's the functionality that we demonstrated in early April.

Since then, we've been hard at work on EasyWeb. But something about EasyWeb hasn't felt quite right. The UI for EasyWeb, which primarily lived in FileMaker itself, was clunky and confusing - and worse, it was difficult to take the UI (no matter how nice we made it) and implement it in other databases. To put it simply, EasyWeb didn't live up to our expectations. So the project stalled...

A New Vision for EasyWeb

Until last week, when I had what I like to call a "lightbulb" moment. I realized that EasyWeb could be simplified considerably, and that some of the challenges that we had been facing could be approached in a different way. Also, I had been working on another very similar project that made me think differently about EasyWeb's form-related functionality.

Here's the plan...

EasyWeb will provide only the functionality for publishing data that is in a FileMaker database to the Web. As we displayed in April's demo, EasyWeb will provide support for both list and form views and will do so dynamically. All of the customization options will be moved from the database itself to the Web application. You'll be able to customize EasyWeb using a combination of CSS, Javascript, and so on.

Introducing fmFoo

While the form-related functionality will be removed from EasyWeb, that "other project" that I referred to above will serve as a replacement. That project, which I've been calling "fmFoo," improves upon the form functionality that EasyWeb previously provided.

fmFoo is a play on two names - "FM" for FileMaker, of course, and "foo" from WuFoo. If you're not familiar with it, WuFoo is a Web forms service. With a browser-based interface, it makes it easy for anyone to create their own Web-based forms. The service provides a number of form templates that can be used as is or customized.

fmFoo uses WuFoo's "WebHook" function to take the information collected from forms and saves it to a FileMaker database. All field types are supported, including file uploads. So fmFoo acts as a seamless, reliable bridge between WuFoo and FileMaker.

Progress & Timeframe

fmFoo is, for the most part, ready to go. We still need to do more testing - and in particular we want to test it a little more with databases being hosted on FileMaker Server 14.

The changes to EasyWeb are underway. At this point, we're actually removing more code than we're adding, as we remove the support for forms and clean things up in the process.

ETA for both solutions is now set for Monday, June 1st. The solutions will be released as open source (free). However, I will not be providing free technical support for either solution. I'm still working out the particulars of the paid tech support that I'll provide...

If you want to be notified when EasyWeb and fmFoo become available, please take a moment to signup for my mailing list.

And thanks for your interest in EasyWeb (and fmFoo, too!).

- Tim