Quickly Install or Update Plugins With a Little Assistance

By June 11, 2009 4 Comments

Many FileMaker Pro solutions take advantage of plug-ins to extend the application’s capabilities. For solutions with only a few users, adding or updating a plug-in is relatively painless. If, however, your solution has a large number of users, proper management of the plug-in installation and update process is essential. Luckily, FileMaker has already given us the tools necessary to do so with a process called AutoUpdate. AutoUpdate has been around since FileMaker Server 5.5. As the server product line has changed over the years, so have the locations for administering AutoUpdate, but the functionality has remained fairly consistent.

While working on a recent project, I needed to find a way to handle the plug-in install and update process for a solution that had about 300 users/workstations. As I began my search, I was disappointed to discover that there were not many resources online that could assist me in implementing the AutoUpdate process. I did find a couple, though, and it was through these resources that I was able to develop the attached application, which I am calling the AutoUpdate Assistant. This application has most of the work done for you, but taking it apart and following the documentation can provide you with a great understanding of the AutoUpdate process and how it works. Even better, you can take the AutoUpdate Assistant, configure it for your plug-ins, and use it to handle the plug-in management process in your solutions. I have also included some additional features to log errors, to send alerts to database administrators when errors occur, and to force the system to quit if errors are encountered and access to the solution should be denied.

My hope is that you’ll find this file helpful. Enjoy, and happy FileMaking!

This post was written with FileMaker Server 9, so do check your documentation if you are using a different version of server.

Download AutoUpdate Assistant v1.107 – ZIP

Aaron Gutleben

Aaron Gutleben

Aaron has been a developer for more than twelve years. His journey with FileMaker has been vast and has allowed him to work within many industries, and work on some amazing projects which have included authoring Module 13, FileMaker Go, for the FileMaker Training Series (FTS). Aaron was also a contributing author for the first twelve modules, and is certified in FileMaker 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. When not so focused on work, he is either spending some quality time with his kids, playing/recording music, or is enjoying his love of motorcycles on some of the beautiful mountain roads near Lake Tahoe.


  • Avatar Jesse Barnum says:

    Hi – I’m so glad to see more people using Auto Update – it’s a really powerful feature. Thanks for getting the news out!

  • Avatar Dave Simerly says:

    Looks really useful Aaron! We’re going to check it out. Thanks for sharing!


  • Avatar Dan Smith says:

    Thanks for sharing this solution with the community! I recently created a similar solution, so when I stumbled upon this I though I’d see how you approached it. I’m glad I did, because by looking at your file I realized that I left out the test to see if the file was hosted before performing an Auto Update.
    One thing I cant figure out is why you force FileMaker to close after updating a plugin to a new version. I have not seen any documentation stating that this is necessary. I also tested with Server 9 and FileMaker Pro 10 – I was able to install a new version of a currently installed plugin and have the new plugin take effect without restarting FileMaker (on Windows). Could you please tell me why you force FileMaker to close?

  • Avatar Makah Encarnacao says:

    Thanks Aaron, the file is very useful, and beautiful! One thing I noticed that the instructions for creating a tar file on a mac via terminal didn’t work for me. However, this line did: tar czf Plugin_nam.fmplugin.tar Plugin_nam.fmplugin

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