H is for host
With the FileMaker Platform, you can share data in a file over a network. Many users can access the same data set at the same time. The shared file is open on a host device and available on the network. In the FileMaker world, the host is a computer (rather than a mobile device), but it may be a physical or virtual computer.
Another name for a host like this is a ‘server’. All servers are hosts, but not all hosts are servers. Only hosts that accept connections from other devices (clients) qualify as servers.
How to host a file
There are two FileMaker products that can host a FileMaker file – FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server. You should consider FileMaker Pro as a host only for testing or for a limited timeframe. FileMaker Server is a robust and performant host recommended for all long term hosting.
FileMaker Pro as host
Hosting a file with FileMaker Pro is quite simple. Open the file and choose File > Sharing > Share with FileMaker Clients…. In the FileMaker Network Settings, turn Network Sharing on. Then choose a currently open file from the list and set network access to All users.
FileMaker Pro is a limited host – it can accommodate up to five connected clients. Those clients can be either FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Go (no web clients). If the host needs to close the file for any reason, all clients must exit.
FileMaker Server as host
Install FileMaker Server software on a dedicated server machine. It is beyond the scope of this blog article to consider all the requirements for the server configuration. When the FileMaker Server has been installed and configured properly, upload files to the server from FileMaker Pro.
Open the file and choose File > Sharing > Upload to FileMaker Server…. In the resulting dialog, choose the FileMaker Server on the network and supply server admin credentials.
Did you know?
FileMaker Server can host up to 125 files simultaneously and easily accommodate 100 concurrent clients accessing this files.
Connecting to a hosted file
When you use FileMaker Pro, you can open a file stored on your local device as a single user. By definition, a hosted file is available on the network. To connect to a hosted file with FileMaker Pro, you choose File > Open Remote…, then choose a host and a file.
As with local files, you may need to provide account credentials to open the file. You are strongly advised to ensure that all hosted files are password protected. This will stop casual networkers having a look at the file. And obviously, you should use strong passwords.
Did you know?
Network traffic travels in and out of devices through numbered ports. The standard port for web traffic between your browser and the web server is port 80. Standard FileMaker traffic uses port 5003. When you are using FileMaker Server with SSL enabled, it also uses the standard SSL port 443.
Why use FileMaker Server as a host?
FileMaker Server provides many more important hosting features than does FileMaker Pro.
- Scalability and Performance
- Security – SSL connection, host AES-256 encrypted files, logging
- Sharing – WebDirect and custom web publishing (PHP), OBDC/JDBC support
- Maintenance – scheduled backups and procedures, web management console
For more details, refer to the FileMaker web page for FileMaker Server.