How to Scale FileMaker with a Custom WebDirect Solution

Local to Global with FileMaker Along for the Ride

One of our long-term clients presents a perfect use case. The post-production services company partnered with us as a single location on the East Coast more than five years ago. We implemented a custom ActualizeIt solution, built with a FileMaker foundation, to help them track space they rent out, map out floor plans, track jobs, manage bids for multiple departments and user groups, and more.

They quickly grew to five locations in the area and then exploded in growth. An acquisition followed, and an influx of investment allowed the business to expand into the West Coast, Southeast, and UK, cementing itself as an international organization.

This strained response times in FileMaker Pro, as network latency increased. Users on the East Coast could use FileMaker Pro as normal, but their cross country and international teammates experienced performance issues when accessing using FM Pro across the WAN. During an expansion, the last thing you want is performance issues with your mission-critical business solution. Our team of FileMaker developers stepped in to further customize the application and help it scale with the business.

Scaling FileMaker for Remote and International Users

Our team started with a tried-and-true strategy that works for most businesses – using remote desktop technology to keep Pro closer to the server. Citrix and Remote Desktop Services were implemented, and even AWS AppStream and Workspaces were experimented with.

Unfortunately, these remote desktop technologies can complicate access and lack the quick access capabilities users have come to expect of browser-based applications The widely dispersed user groups still struggled with logging into the solution, lagging performance, and poor platform usability.

Moving Forward with WebDirect

Our FileMaker consultants took a step back to thoroughly analyze the FileMaker solution and identify its top pain points and performance issues. We reviewed latency, bandwidth, and a slew of other factors.

Analyzing the FileMaker solution
Reviewing latency, bandwidth, and other factors.

Following this analysis, we determined that WebDirect would be the best and most comprehensive solution. A custom implementation would address pain points within the application itself and deliver an easily accessible web interface that wouldn’t bog down the core solution.

From Idea to WebDirect Solution in 6 Weeks

Within six weeks, we delivered a custom WebDirect solution that remote and international users could promptly adopt. It immediately improved performance, productivity, and morale within our client’s business.

The resulting WebDirect solution provides seamless access through a one-step login via a web browser. Users no longer need to log into the VPN, then Microsoft Desktop or Citrix. They don’t need to install anything. Everything is managed via the user’s web browser, where they can access the data and functionality immediately. The pace of business follows the pace of web speeds.

Benefits of Scaling FileMaker with WebDirect

With the WebDirect solution, remote and international users finally have the user experience they deserve. They avoid multiple steps and programs just to access their mission-critical FileMaker application and get to work faster. The faster access and boost in performance overall delivered a boost in productivity across the business. The solution empowered them to expand further, this time supported by technology instead of being held back.

FileMaker Techniques to Elevate the WebDirect Experience

While robust WebDirect implementations require significant customization and are rarely trivial initiatives, there are standard best practices to follow. Our FileMaker consultants took on the substantial task of updating every layout within the application to be compatible with both the FileMaker client and WebDirect. No easy or quick feat, especially within a six-week deadline.

Our team also noticed that drop-down lists built into FileMaker worked fine within the application but presented a challenge in WebDirect. We replaced them with searchable picker windows in the layout to ensure all user groups have an optimal experience.

Another area for improvement is the native FileMaker portal selector. Due to unique client needs, it didn’t work well for our client and presented performance issues, particularly in terms of speed. Our team leveraged its deep bench of technology experts to shift functionality to data tables built with JavaScript. As a result, remote users experience a night and day difference in speed. This transition served as a game-changer for latency.

Scaling Your Own FileMaker Solution

Our team helps clients navigate business growth by clearing technology roadblocks. We help them understand their unique opportunities on the FileMaker platform during times of expansion. With these insights, our FileMaker experts customize applications to promote better performance and usability, increasing productivity and innovation for our clients.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you scale your FileMaker solution at the pace your business needs for growth, contact our team. Our consultants are happy to help.

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