FileMaker 16 WebDirect Guide
Introducing FileMaker WebDirect
FileMaker WebDirect™ is a FileMaker® client that enables users to interact with your solutions on the web. You create solutions using FileMaker Pro and then host, manage, and configure your solutions on FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud.
Security is important when you publish data on the web. Review the security guidelines in FileMaker Security Guide, FileMaker Pro Help, FileMaker Server Help, and FileMaker Cloud Help.
About this guide
FileMaker documentation uses “publishing on the web” to refer to solutions that users can access on the Internet or an intranet using a web browser. In this guide, the term “web user” refers to someone accessing a FileMaker solution published on the web using FileMaker WebDirect. “Solution” and “database” are terms for what FileMaker Pro creates and what web users access through FileMaker WebDirect.
This guide uses “FileMaker Pro” to refer to both FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Pro Advanced, and uses "Admin Console" to refer to both FileMaker Server Admin Console and FileMaker Cloud Admin Console.
For additional documentation, including updates to this guide, visit the Product Document Center.
About FileMaker WebDirect
FileMaker WebDirect combines aspects of a web application and a desktop application, bringing FileMaker Pro features to your solutions on the web. With FileMaker WebDirect, you can:
easily and quickly deploy a solution to anyone with a compatible web browser without using web authoring tools or other technologies
access data from most modern browsers
import or export records and container data
deploy a customized web application by hiding and locking the menu bar and status toolbar
FileMaker WebDirect works best when you are:
deploying FileMaker solutions intended primarily for web browsers
extending existing solutions to include remote users outside the team or organization
For particular groups of users, you can choose to add or modify only the layouts they need. For example, if warehouse workers only need to fulfill orders in your order management solution, then you may only need to add invoice layouts that work well in a browser.
A layout displayed in a web browser with FileMaker WebDirect
How FileMaker WebDirect works
FileMaker WebDirect runs in a web browser and uses these standard web technologies:
HTML5 to define the structure of the page
CSS3 to control the appearance of the page
HTTP/HTTPS and WebSocket protocols to communicate between the web browser and the web server
FileMaker WebDirect architecture
The architecture of FileMaker WebDirect bridges two different environments: the web browser and a FileMaker solution. In the web browser, FileMaker WebDirect runs as a client that interacts with a solution hosted on FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud.
FileMaker Server and FileMaker Cloud include the following components:
- Database Server: Hosts the solutions you share with all FileMaker clients (FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go®, and FileMaker WebDirect). It handles layouts, data, scripts, script triggers, user account authentication, record locking, and communication with all FileMaker clients.
- Web server: Communicates with web browsers using HTTP/HTTPS and WebSocket protocols to serve your solution as a web application.
FileMaker Server and FileMaker Cloud respond to requests from the web browser as follows:
- The Database Server sends layout information and data from a hosted solution to the WPE.
- The web server sends the translated layouts and data from the WPE to the browser.
For example, you’ve designed a FileMaker WebDirect solution that has one layout containing a button that’s set up to run the Show Custom Dialog script step. To open the solution, a web user types the URL in a browser or clicks a link. In a FileMaker Server multiple-machine deployment, the request to open the solution is passed to the web server and WPE with the most available capacity. The WPE tells the Database Server to open the specified database. The WPE authenticates the user with the Database Server, opens a session, and performs other startup activities. If the user is allowed to open the database, the Database Server passes information about the layout and button to the WPE. In real time, the WPE generates the code to represent the layout and the button, including the formatting information for the button’s pressed and hover states. When the user clicks the button on the layout, the browser sends the click along to the WPE. The WPE tells the Database Server that the button was clicked; the Database Server runs the script step, responds that the script ran successfully, and tells the WPE to display the custom dialog box. The WPE generates the code for the custom dialog box and then sends it to the web browser to display.
Implicit interaction model
Users of FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Go are accustomed to committing changes in fields, clicking buttons to show custom dialog boxes, seeing data as it is being updated by other users, and seeing conditional formatting change as conditions change—all without explicitly submitting their changes or refreshing the display. To bring this familiar experience to web users, FileMaker WebDirect uses an implicit interaction model, which enables your solutions to behave similarly to an application.
How web technologies affect your solution
Follow these design principles to make sure your solution will work in FileMaker WebDirect:
Layouts should reflect standard best practices on the web.
Every object, style, image, and interaction on a layout means more data transferred from the Database Server to the web browser, so make wise decisions about what to include on a layout. Most web applications don’t have hundreds of interactive objects or large, high-resolution images because web browsers cannot render them quickly enough and can be slowed by poor network connections.
Limitations that are inherent to the web also apply to FileMaker WebDirect.
For example, if the CSS standard doesn’t define a property for a particular style, that style won’t be displayed in your FileMaker WebDirect solution.
There are some design choices that you should avoid making for your FileMaker WebDirect solution.
Some features, like opening multiple windows, don’t translate well to the web. Other features, like rich text, work in limited circumstances or don’t work at all. Consider designing a new solution specifically for FileMaker WebDirect, or extending the portions of your existing solution that make the most sense on the web. See Step 2: Understand the capabilities of FileMaker WebDirect.
While designing your solution, keep these points in mind:
The FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud deployment does most of the work for the FileMaker WebDirect client. For example, key presses and mouse clicks that are handled by FileMaker Pro must be sent from FileMaker WebDirect to FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud. The solution's host also sets record locks, activates script triggers, fetches data, and manages layout and data caches.
Clicking through an object stacked in front of another object is not supported on the web.
Script steps that affect windows work differently in FileMaker WebDirect than in FileMaker Pro. Because web browsers employ a single document interface, if your FileMaker WebDirect solution uses the New Window script step, the new window is stacked in front of the current window within the same browser window. In many cases, using popovers or slide controls can provide a better user experience than using multiple windows. See Working with virtual windows.
For security reasons, browsers run web applications like FileMaker WebDirect with limited access to system resources. (This limited environment is called a sandbox.) For example, FileMaker WebDirect can’t access arbitrary locations in the file system, so the Import Records and Export Records script steps work differently than in FileMaker Pro.
Many tasks—such as CSS cascading, determining focus, propagating events, and tabbing—are ultimately controlled by the web browser and behave differently than in FileMaker Pro. For example, browsers enable web applications to respond to a click only after the click happens, unlike FileMaker Pro, which enables your solution to respond via script triggers before, during, or after a click.
Objects in HTML5 observe a true parent-child hierarchy—that is, a child object is always contained within a single parent object. For example, an image that extends across the boundary between the header and body parts of a layout can be in only one part, so the image is cropped at the boundary between the parts it spans.
FileMaker WebDirect requirements
To publish databases using FileMaker WebDirect, you need:
a Windows or macOS computer running FileMaker Server or an instance of FileMaker Cloud
access to the Internet or an intranet
one or more FileMaker databases
a web browser
The supported web browsers are:
Windows macOS iOS Android Edge Safari Safari Chrome Internet Explorer Chrome Chrome
Note:On Android, FileMaker WebDirect supports Google and ATOK input method editors (IMEs).
For information on the minimum hardware and software requirements, see the FileMaker Server system requirements.
Connecting through the Internet or an intranet
FileMaker Cloud can host databases on the Internet, and FileMaker Server can host databases on both the Internet or an intranet.
Publish your database on a computer with a full-time Internet or intranet connection using TCP/IP.
The host computer should have a dedicated static (permanent) Internet Protocol (IP) address or a domain name.
While web users are connected to a FileMaker WebDirect solution, they should use a single Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or mobile (4G or LTE) network connection with consistent connectivity and latency of 150 milliseconds or less. Loss of network connectivity—which can be caused by intermittent signal or by switching between networks—can cause FileMaker WebDirect to disconnect from the server.
Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption to secure communication between FileMaker WebDirect and FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud. See Enabling SSL encryption.
Other ways to publish FileMaker data
In addition to FileMaker WebDirect, there are three other ways to publish your data:
Static publishing: If your data rarely changes, or if you don’t want users to have a live connection to your database, you can use static publishing. With static publishing, you export FileMaker Pro data to create a webpage that you can further customize with HTML. The webpage doesn’t change when information in your database changes, and users can’t connect to your database. See FileMaker Pro Help.
Custom Web Publishing: To integrate your FileMaker solution with a custom website, use the Custom Web Publishing technologies. See FileMaker Server Custom Web Publishing Guide.
FileMaker Data API: To integrate your FileMaker solution with web services via Representational State Transfer (REST) architecture, use the FileMaker Data API. See FileMaker Data API Guide.
Designing a FileMaker WebDirect solution
Before you begin
With FileMaker WebDirect, you can host FileMaker solutions for web users and extend existing solutions to the web for occasional or remote users.
If you are modifying an existing database for use with FileMaker WebDirect, consider creating new layouts specifically intended for web browsers.
If you are designing a solution that will be accessed by both FileMaker WebDirect and FileMaker Pro clients, design with web users in mind to ensure compatibility across both technologies.
Note:For a full description of FileMaker Pro features and functionality, see FileMaker Pro Help.
Follow the general steps below to design a FileMaker WebDirect solution. For more design tips, see Design considerations.
Step 1: Plan your FileMaker WebDirect solution
A well-planned FileMaker WebDirect solution promotes consistent:
access for multiple concurrent users
To ensure that your solution provides a reliable experience for web users, you should identify potential problems and modify your solution accordingly.
Purpose of the solution
Determine the purpose for your solution, or the problem you want to solve. If the solution solves multiple problems or tracks multiple kinds of data, identify how you will split the solution into several layouts and tasks.
Layouts should have unique names, even if they are organized in different folders in the Manage Layouts dialog box.
Number of web users
The number of connected web users directly affects the performance of all connected web browsers. You may need to evaluate the hardware configuration of your FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud deployment if it does not support the number of users you require.
For recommended hardware configurations for FileMaker Server, see the FileMaker Knowledge Base.
Devices that access the solution
Devices vary by hardware and network performance, screen size, and resolution. If you identify which devices will access your solution, you can design layouts with each device’s capabilities in mind.
Devices with limited processing capabilities may render layouts and communicate with FileMaker Server and FileMaker Cloud more slowly than devices with more robust hardware configurations.
How much of the solution FileMaker WebDirect will access
Based on the solution’s purpose, the maximum number of simultaneous web users, and the devices that will access the solution, decide which layouts and features will be accessed by FileMaker WebDirect.
Step 2: Understand the capabilities of FileMaker WebDirect
FileMaker WebDirect brings many FileMaker Pro features to your solutions on the web, including:
- implicit record commits
- data entry validation
- conditional formatting
- modern layout themes
- script triggers
- quick find
- PDF creation and printing
Although FileMaker WebDirect is similar to FileMaker Pro, it does not have all the features of a FileMaker Pro network client.
Web users can choose layouts and different layout views, but they cannot add, delete, or modify fields, layouts, scripts, relationships, value lists, or other database schema.
FileMaker WebDirect does not support Table View. Script steps or script step options that change the view to Table View are not supported. If a layout’s default view is Table View, the layout displays in a different view. If no other views are enabled, the layout displays in List View.
FileMaker WebDirect does not allow users to click objects that are located behind other layout objects, even if the front-most objects are transparent or if users click empty space in an object group. Rather than stacking multiple objects:
use calculated values for tab labels
add icons to buttons instead of stacking images in front of buttons
group multiple objects and apply button settings to the group
FileMaker WebDirect offers limited text styles. Highlighting, paragraph text styles, and tab stops are not supported. Rich text is supported only when applied to fields, buttons, and layout text. FileMaker WebDirect only supports rich text that is supported by the web browser.
FileMaker Pro Advanced custom menus have no effect in FileMaker WebDirect solutions.
Step 3: Optimize performance
For an example of how FileMaker WebDirect communicates with the solution's host, see FileMaker WebDirect architecture.
How efficiently FileMaker WebDirect can perform these tasks is affected by:
the processing capabilities of the web user’s device
the number of web users concurrently accessing the solution
the quality of the web user’s network connection
the amount of data transferred between FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud and the web browser
the frequency with which the web browser communicates with FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud; communication occurs whenever:
a record is created, opened, committed, or deleted
the current record is changed
the layout is changed
a calculation is evaluated
a script is performed
a script trigger is activated
Improving overall performance
To improve the overall performance of your FileMaker WebDirect solution, minimize the amount of data transferred between the solution's host and the browser, the frequency with which the browser communicates with FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud, and the amount of processing the web browser must perform when rendering each layout.
Keep the these best practices in mind:
- In List View and portals, minimize the number of layout objects displayed simultaneously.
Minimize the use of the following items on layouts:
- panel controls
- calculation fields
- summary fields
- fields with validation options
- fields with data formatting options
- script triggers
Improving HTML performance
Reduce the amount of HTML transferred between FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud and the web browser to make layouts change faster, records load faster, and script triggers activate faster:
create several layouts with a minimum of objects rather than one layout with many objects
reduce the number of tooltips on each layout
keep image sizes appropriate for web use
Improving CSS performance
Reduce the amount of CSS in the solution to improve the web browser’s layout rendering performance. Layouts with large amounts of CSS may load slowly, particularly on devices with limited processing capabilities:
choose or create simple themes, such as themes that do not use gradients or image slices
create custom themes and custom styles rather than overriding existing themes and styles
reduce the use of object states on each layout object
minimize conditional formatting
Step 4: Design layouts for mobile browsers
Web users access FileMaker WebDirect solutions with mobile devices that have different screen sizes and resolutions. To provide an optimal experience for mobile browsers, identify the target devices for your solution, and design your solution to adapt to each device.
Keep these points in mind:
Design each layout for the smallest device in a range of devices, and configure the auto-resize options for layout objects to expand based on the web browser’s height and width.
- In some mobile browsers, users may not be able to view objects near the bottom edge of a layout if the layout is larger than the mobile device’s viewable area.
- On iOS devices, if users zoom in to enlarge the image on screen, the status toolbar and some layout elements may not be accessible.
- On Android devices, layout elements are always fixed in size. Users can’t zoom in or out.
Use the OnLayoutSizeChange script trigger to change layouts if the browser dimensions change to be greater or smaller than a certain height or width, such as when a mobile browser changes orientation.
To make it easy for web users to read and select the objects on small screens, use a Touch theme or increase the size of fonts and layout objects.
Make fields large enough to display and print the data contained in the field. In the web browser, fields don’t expand when they are active and field contents are truncated if the contents don’t fit within the field boundaries.
To allow users to commit records, design a scripted button or leave enough inactive space on the layout so that web users can click outside fields on small screens.
FileMaker WebDirect does not support saving snapshot links, importing records, exporting records, or exporting the contents of container fields from mobile browsers.
Step 5: Set the solution icon and options for layouts, views, and tools
You should set an identifiable solution icon, direct web users to layouts appropriate for their devices, and display the tools applicable to your FileMaker WebDirect solution.
Setting the solution icon
The solution icon identifies your solution in FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center. You can specify a custom icon or choose a pre-designed icon from a list. See FileMaker Pro Help.
Setting the initial layout and view
When a FileMaker WebDirect solution is set to perform a script at startup, users see the results of that script each time they open the solution. To determine which layout and view web users see when they open the solution, use the OnFirstWindowOpen script trigger with a startup script that includes the following script steps:
Go to Layout [ ]
Enter Browse Mode [ ]
View As [ ]
To send web users to layouts appropriate for their devices, identify which devices and web browsers are running your solution. See Functions.
You can also specify a starting layout in the FileMaker Pro File Options dialog box. See FileMaker Pro Help.
Hiding the menu bar and status toolbar
The controls and options in the menu bar and status toolbar allow users to create, edit, delete, import, export, find, sort, and print records; switch views and modes; open Help; and more. If you want to present your own interface for performing tasks, you can hide the menu bar and the status toolbar when the file opens.
To suppress FileMaker WebDirect controls, set the menu bar and status toolbar to hide by default in the FileMaker Pro File Options dialog box. See FileMaker Pro Help.
For multifile solutions, you must suppress FileMaker WebDirect controls in each file.
To prevent web users from being able to create new records:
hide the menu bar and the status toolbar
use the FileMaker Pro Manage Security dialog box to edit record access and creation privileges
Important:When you suppress the FileMaker WebDirect controls, web users are completely dependent on your scripted buttons. You must include buttons that let web users navigate and sign out of the solution as well as perform other tasks. Thoroughly test your solution to make sure you have provided users all required functionality. See Testing the look and functionality of your solution.
You can include scripted buttons on your layout to:
- add, select, navigate, and delete records
- import and export records
- specify search criteria and perform find requests
- sort records
- print records
- change layouts and layout views
- continue or cancel scripts that may have paused
Provide documentation to help users interact with your solution, as the instructions included in FileMaker WebDirect Help may not apply. See Step 10: Document your solution.
Step 6: Set up tasks for web users
In addition to entering or modifying data, your solution may require web users to perform other tasks.
Specifying the sort order
Web users can sort data based on fields on the current layout. To control which fields web users can sort:
hide the menu bar and the status toolbar, then create buttons that are scripted to sort the data
use the Manage Security dialog box to restrict access to fields with a user’s account
Working with graphics, sounds, and movies
Container fields store and display pictures, sounds, movies, and files. Container data can be embedded inside the solution itself or stored externally.
Note:FileMaker WebDirect does not support container data that is linked by reference. Referenced container data displays as a static icon and can’t be exported.
You can optimize container fields for static content or for interactive content:
By default, container fields are optimized for static content. Web users can’t open PDF files or play video or audio files. Web users see either a static graphic or a link to the container field object.
Container fields optimized for interactive content allow web users to play media files and to interact with PDF files. To optimize the container field as an interactive container, select the FileMaker Pro Inspector Interactive content option.
Note:In mobile browsers, users can’t insert data by dragging a file into a container field. Consider creating scripts that use the Insert Picture, Insert Audio/Video, or Insert PDF script steps.
Web browsers provide inconsistent support for media files, and browser versions may vary on different operating systems. Some browsers may not correctly insert, display, or play certain media files.
Web users may be prompted to unblock content before it can be played, or to install browser plug-ins.
|For this kind of media||Use these recommended file types|
|Image||.jpg, .png, .gif|
Working with virtual windows
Web users can navigate between multiple virtual windows in a single web-browser window to view a solution in different layouts, views, and modes. Only one virtual window displays in the browser window at a time, but inactive virtual windows remain open when they are not visible.
Virtual windows are opened, closed, and manipulated using script steps. See FileMaker Pro Help.
Keep these points in mind:
- FileMaker WebDirect doesn't support window styles.
- If you open a new virtual window with the New Window script step, provide scripted buttons to navigate and close the virtual windows.
Close unused virtual windows with the Close Window script step.
If you design a script to perform an external script from a FileMaker data source and you want to return to the original window, add a Select Window [Current Window] script step immediately after the Perform Script step in the original script.
If you use the Exit Application script step or close the last virtual window with the Close Window script step, the script ends the user’s session and returns the user to FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center.
Importing and exporting data
Web users may need to share data between the solution and another application. In FileMaker WebDirect, web users can import and export the following file formats:
Note:To import from a FileMaker Pro file, web users must have access to an account in the file.
Exported or saved files are downloaded to the web browser’s default download location.
Importing and exporting data is not supported in mobile browsers.
Web users can print the current found set of records and scripted reports. When a user prints, FileMaker WebDirect creates a PDF in a new web browser tab. Web users can then use the web browser's controls to print the PDF.
- If you host your solution with FileMaker Cloud, use the web browser's controls to print the records you see onscreen.
- To set print and page parameters, use the Print Setup script step.
- If fonts don't display correctly in a PDF, make sure that all required fonts are installed and available to all Web Publishing Engines in your FileMaker Server deployment. See FileMaker Server Help.
Step 7: Enable users to sign out of the solution
It is important that web users properly close their sessions by opening the menu bar and then clicking Sign Out. If they close the browser window or quit the browser before signing out, their sessions may still be open, which might:
prevent others from accessing the solution if the User Connections client limit has been reached
prevent the solution from running scripts assigned to script triggers (see Script triggers)
cause a script to continue running until the specified timeout occurs, which may lead to unexpected results
make data vulnerable to hackers until the specified timeout occurs
To minimize these situations, set the session timeout to a short amount of time or create a scripted button to safely sign out web users. See Disconnecting inactive web accounts and Working with virtual windows.
Note:If you hide the menu bar, create a scripted button to sign out web users. See Hiding the menu bar and status toolbar.
Step 8: Review the functions, scripts, and script triggers in your solution
Some functions, scripts, and script triggers are not supported in FileMaker WebDirect or perform differently than in FileMaker Pro. Review all calculations and scripts in your solution to make sure they perform the desired tasks.
Functions in FileMaker WebDirect are useful for generating or manipulating data.
For information about individual functions, see FileMaker Pro Help.
Keep these points in mind:
To create conditional behaviors based on the type of client, use the Get(SystemPlatform) function. If the function returns 4, the current user is accessing your solution with FileMaker WebDirect.
You can detect the operating system and web browser running your solution by using the Get(SystemVersion) function. If you have difficulty identifying the device, use Get(WindowWidth) and Get(WindowHeight) to identify the appropriate layouts for the device.
FileMaker Pro scripts are useful for automating frequently performed tasks or for combining several tasks. When used in FileMaker WebDirect, scripts can allow web users to perform more tasks, or to easily perform a series of tasks simply by clicking a button.
FileMaker WebDirect supports more than 100 script steps. To see which script steps are supported, open the Script Workspace in FileMaker Pro, click , then choose FileMaker WebDirect. Dimmed script steps are not supported in FileMaker WebDirect.
Although many script steps work identically in FileMaker WebDirect, several work differently, such as the Windows script steps. See FileMaker Pro Help.
Keep these points in mind:
Use accounts and privileges to restrict the set of scripts that a web user can execute. Verify that the scripts only contain script steps compatible with FileMaker WebDirect, and only provide access to scripts that should be used from a web browser.
Consider the side effects of scripts that execute a combination of steps that are controlled by access privileges. For example, if a script includes a step to delete records and a web user does not log in with an account that allows record deletion, the script does not execute the Delete Record/Request script step. However, the script might continue to run, which could lead to unexpected results.
Set scripts to run with full access privileges to perform tasks that you would not grant individuals access to. For example, you can prevent users from deleting records with their accounts and privileges, but still allow them to run a script that would delete certain types of records under conditions predefined within a script.
If a script encounters an unsupported script step (a step that is not compatible with FileMaker WebDirect) or an unknown script step (a step that is obsolete or unrecognized), the script step is skipped and the script continues to execute.
In FileMaker WebDirect, scripts can't access the client's file system. Web users must select files to import or insert, and exported or saved files are downloaded to the web browser's default download location.
Script steps can’t enter a field if access to the field is restricted by either the Browse Mode or Find Mode option in the FileMaker Pro Inspector.
As in FileMaker Pro, user actions (such as the user clicking a field) and scripts can activate script triggers in FileMaker WebDirect. See FileMaker Pro Help.
Note:If a web user closes a browser window or clicks the web browser's Refresh button, FileMaker WebDirect leaves the current session without logging out or activating the OnWindowClose and OnLastWindowClose script triggers. If the web user clicks the Refresh button, FileMaker WebDirect then creates a new connection to FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud, activating the OnFirstWindowOpen and OnWindowOpen script triggers.
Step 9: Set up external data sources
In addition to data entered by web users, FileMaker WebDirect solutions can access external ODBC and FileMaker data sources.
Setting up external ODBC data sources
To support authentication with an external ODBC data source in FileMaker WebDirect, use FileMaker Pro to store the user name and password for the external data source in the solution. See FileMaker Pro Help.
If a solution is configured to use ODBC data source single sign-on, users will be prompted to enter authentication information when attempting to access the ODBC data source.
Setting up external FileMaker data sources
To access external FileMaker data sources in FileMaker WebDirect, all referenced database files must be hosted on the same FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud deployment as the FileMaker WebDirect solution.
To support authentication with an external FileMaker data source in FileMaker WebDirect, the FileMaker WebDirect solution and the external data source should have matching account names and passwords assigned to privilege sets with the FileMaker WebDirect extended privilege enabled.
If the web user's account name and password in the FileMaker WebDirect solution do not match an account in the external data source, the user will be prompted to sign in to the external data source when the FileMaker WebDirect solution attempts to access it.
For information about external FileMaker data sources, see FileMaker Pro Help.
Step 10: Document your solution
Provide documentation on a separate layout or webpage to explain how web users should interact with your solution, especially if the solution includes many layouts and scripted buttons.
You should include the following information in your documentation:
Browsing and finding records: Let web users know that they work with data in Browse mode and search for records in Find mode. Instruct users how to create, edit, delete, find, and sort records.
Navigating the solution: Tell web users how to view records in appropriate layouts and views.
Closing the session: Tell web users to open the menu bar and then click Sign Out to properly close their connection to FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud. See Step 7: Enable users to sign out of the solution.
Layout objects: Create tooltips for layout objects to help web users understand how to interact with the solution. Tooltip text appears in a web browser’s default text style.
Pop-up blockers: Tell web users how to disable their browser’s pop-up blocker. Some pop-up blockers prevent FileMaker WebDirect from sending mail, displaying PDFs in new tabs, opening URLs via the Open URL script step, opening FileMaker WebDirect Help, and providing feedback to FileMaker, Inc.
Publishing a FileMaker WebDirect solution
FileMaker WebDirect settings in Admin Console
To change language and connection settings, run Admin Console on a machine that has network access to the FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud deployment that is hosting your solution.
Limiting the list of solutions in FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center
Note:This feature is not available in FileMaker Cloud.
You can limit the list of hosted solutions displayed in FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center to only those solutions each web user can access. Web users will be prompted for their account information before they view FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center. See FileMaker Server Help
Choosing a language for FileMaker WebDirect
Note:This feature is not available in FileMaker Cloud.
By default, FileMaker WebDirect displays its interface, tooltips, and onscreen Help in your web browser’s current language. If FileMaker WebDirect can’t detect or doesn't support the web browser’s language, it uses the language specified in Admin Console. Choosing or changing the language has no effect on your data. See FileMaker Server Help.
Viewing the maximum number of connections
Each FileMaker Server and FileMaker Cloud deployment has a maximum number of User Connections client connections. When the maximum number of connections is reached, additional web users see an error message in the web browser when they try to access the solution.
Keep these points in mind:
- If you think FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud has reached the maximum number of User Connections clients erroneously, it’s possible that a web user has not signed out of the solution properly. You can wait for the sessions to time out, close the file to disconnect all users from the solution, or disconnect specific users using Admin Console. See FileMaker Server Help and FileMaker Cloud Help.
- Web users should avoid accessing the same solution from multiple browser windows or in multiple tabs of the same browser window. Each browser window or tab uses its own connection to FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud, which may cause it to reach the User Connections client limit quickly. See Working with virtual windows.
Enabling SSL encryption
Important:If you are not the server administrator, contact the server administrator before making changes to security settings.
Consider using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption to secure communication between FileMaker WebDirect and FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud. SSL certificates digitally identify the sender, receiver, or both parties to provide secure connections between FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud and FileMaker clients. See FileMaker Server Help and FileMaker Cloud Help.
Keep these points in mind:
- The standard FileMaker SSL certificate installed by default with FileMaker Server is available only for test purposes. Using a solution with the standard FileMaker SSL certificate or an invalid SSL certificate could produce unexpected results.
- If you enable SSL encryption, import a custom SSL certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA) that's supported by FileMaker. If you enable SSL encryption without importing a custom SSL certificate, FileMaker WebDirect prompts web users with security messages and may not open solutions in some web browsers.
- If you enable SSL encryption, use the FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud deployment’s domain name when accessing FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center or a FileMaker WebDirect solution. See Accessing a FileMaker WebDirect solution.
Enabling HTTP Strict Transport Security
Consider using HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) when you encrypt FileMaker WebDirect communications with SSL. HSTS tells the web browser to accept only HTTPS connections from a given hostname for an extended period of time to prevent unencrypted communications between the browser and FileMaker Server. See FileMaker Server Help.
Important:Once a web browser connects to a FileMaker Server deployment using HTTPS and HSTS, the browser refuses all HTTP requests from that deployment's hostname. To accept HTTP requests from that hostname, clear the web browser's history, cache, and HSTS cache.
- HSTS is always enabled in FileMaker Cloud.
- macOS: If you enable HSTS on FileMaker Server, make sure that custom homepages and custom web content are hosted in the WPE HTTPS directory. See FileMaker Server Help.
Disconnecting inactive web accounts
If you are concerned that web users might not sign out of the solution properly, specify a short session timeout. You can also create a scripted button to sign out web users. See Working with virtual windows.
Accessing a FileMaker WebDirect solution
Web users access FileMaker WebDirect solutions through FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center, an HTML page, or a custom homepage.
Accessing FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center
FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center displays icons and names for each hosted FileMaker WebDirect solution.
To prevent a solution from displaying in FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center, see Choosing which users can access a solution and Limiting the list of solutions in FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center.
Open the web browser and enter:
<host>is the IP address or domain name of your FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud deployment.
If SSL is enabled,
<host>must be a fully qualified domain name instead of an IP address.
Click a solution’s filename to open the solution.
Keep these points in mind:
In some cases, web users can type the domain name or subdomain name of the FileMaker Server host rather than the IP address, for example:
http://accounts.yourcompany.com/fmi/webd. Contact your Internet service provider or network administrator for information about mapping a domain name to an IP address.
Signing in with HTTP POST
Users can sign in to FileMaker WebDirect solutions with an HTTP POST request rather than use FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center or a custom homepage.
To open a solution with a specific account name and password, link to the database you want to open (see Linking to a database from an HTML page), and include two HTTP POST parameters:
pwd. Set the value for
user to the desired account name, and set the value for
pwd to the account's password.
Important:Use SSL when signing in with an HTTP POST request. If you don't use SSL, the specified account name and password will not be encrypted and will be less secure.
Using a custom homepage
Note:This feature is not available in FileMaker Cloud.
To use a custom homepage for your FileMaker WebDirect solutions, place an HTML file in the web server’s root folder. This folder is on the machine in your FileMaker Server deployment where the web server is running.
The following shows the default web server root folder locations.
Windows: For IIS through HTTP or HTTPS:
[drive]:\Program Files\FileMaker\FileMaker Server\HTTPServer\conf
[drive]is the drive on which the Web Publishing Engine component of your FileMaker Server deployment resides.
macOS: For Apache through HTTP:
macOS: For Apache through HTTPS:
You can create your own homepage, such as one that redirects web users to another page on your website, or you can use the fmwebd_home.html file that is on the disk image as a basis for your custom homepage. Make a copy of the original file before modifying it.
To access your custom homepage, use the following URL syntax:
For example, if your custom homepage is xyz_home.html and your Web Publishing Engine’s IP address is 192.168.123.101, you would direct users to the following URL:
To return web users to a custom homepage when they sign out, add the
homeurl parameter to each FileMaker WebDirect solution's URL. For example:
You can set
homeurl to the custom homepage's URL or any other URL.
Testing, monitoring, and securing a solution
Testing the look and functionality of your solution
Before notifying web users that your FileMaker WebDirect solution is available, it is important to verify that it looks and functions as you expect.
Test features like finding, adding, deleting, sorting, importing, exporting, and printing records with different accounts and privilege sets.
Verify that privilege sets are performing as expected by signing in with different accounts. Make sure unauthorized users can’t access or modify your data.
Verify that all container fields store and display container data as expected. See Working with graphics, sounds, and movies.
Test all scripts and scripted buttons to verify that the outcome is expected. See Scripts.
Test your solution with different operating systems and browsers.
If the solution doesn't display properly, see FileMaker WebDirect requirements and review Step 2: Understand the capabilities of FileMaker WebDirect.
Testing your database with a network connection
To access a published solution, open a web browser, type the IP address or domain name of the FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud deployment followed by
/fmi/webd, and press Enter or Return. See Accessing a FileMaker WebDirect solution.
Testing your database without a network connection
Note:This feature is not available in FileMaker Cloud.
Test your database in all compatible web browsers on your FileMaker Server computer.
To access FileMaker WebDirect solutions on the host computer, open a web browser, type
http://127.0.0.1/fmi/webd, and press Enter or Return.
FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center should display a list of all open database files that have FileMaker WebDirect enabled. If you don’t see an open, shared database listed, see Accessing a FileMaker WebDirect solution.
Monitoring web activity with log files
Keep these points in mind:
Entries are added to a log file in the order that FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud processes them.
You can also use FileMaker Pro functions to track user activity. See FileMaker Pro Help.
Securing your data
When you publish a FileMaker WebDirect solution, it is important to determine who should have access to the data and to specify which tasks users can perform. See FileMaker Security Guide, FileMaker Pro Help, FileMaker Server Help, and FileMaker Cloud Help.
Keep these security considerations in mind:
Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption to secure communication between FileMaker WebDirect and FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud. See Enabling SSL encryption.
User accounts operate the same regardless of which technologies clients use to open your solutions. For example, if you create an account that restricts access to deleting records, users who access the solution with that account name and password will not be able to delete records, whether they access the data from FileMaker WebDirect, an ODBC data source, or FileMaker Pro.
When allowing access to solutions via FileMaker WebDirect, assign accounts and privilege sets to web users rather than providing access to all users.
If an account limits record-by-record browse privileges but does not limit the privilege to delete records, it is possible for users to delete records they cannot view.
As operating system vendors continue to fix security problems, they may disable certain features, often along with modifying security settings within the user’s web browser. Such changes might disable or change the behavior of web viewers in FileMaker WebDirect. Tell users how to change security settings in their browsers to allow web viewers to function properly, or ensure that the URLs used by your web viewers are for trusted webpages only.
Some aspects of FileMaker Pro solutions behave differently on the web. Consider the following information as you design your solution.
- FileMaker WebDirect does not support gestures or animations.
- Modifying a solution while web users are connected could produce unexpected results. For example, if you save changes to a layout that web users are accessing in List View, each web user’s current record is changed to the first record in the found set.
- Use fonts that are installed on all target operating systems. If a font is not available, the web browser substitutes its default font for the unavailable font.
- Objects and grouped objects should not span multiple layout parts. If an object or group of objects spans multiple parts, it displays only in the layout part in which it is anchored.
- When a user enters a field in a portal, records in the portal are not updated until the user leaves the field.
- To identify the current record in List View, apply the Active object state style to the layout’s body part. The current record indicator is not supported in List View.
- If you copy an object from a layout that uses the Classic theme, change the object to use a style defined in the target layout’s theme.
- The highlight, superscript, and subscript conditional formatting options are not supported. Underline, word underline, and double underline are all rendered as regular underline.
- Tooltips are not supported with the following layout objects: text, images, fields that do not allow entry, merge fields, merge variables, portals, charts, and web viewers that do not allow interaction.
- FileMaker WebDirect displays scroll bars according to system preferences. FileMaker WebDirect does not support the Portal Setup dialog box Show scroll bar option.
Mobile browsers do not support the option to always show vertical scroll bars in portals.
- Mobile browsers do not support tooltips.
Mobile browsers display an onscreen keyboard only when the user clicks into a field.
Set the FileMaker WebDirect language in FileMaker Server Admin Console before publishing your solution. Some mobile browsers do not automatically update the FileMaker WebDirect language after it is changed. To force a mobile browser to update the FileMaker WebDirect language, clear the browser’s cache.
- PDF files in container fields are not interactive. On iOS devices, container fields display only the first page of the PDF. On Android devices, click links in container fields to view PDFs in new web browser windows. To interact with PDFs in container fields, access the solution on Windows or macOS.
If a field uses system formats to display data, FileMaker WebDirect uses the default system formats for the location in which the solution was created. Default system formats affect date, time, and timestamp formatting in fields, merge fields, and validation messages.
Fields can’t auto-complete (type-ahead) field values based on existing values or value lists.
Sideways text is not supported.
Line spacing is not supported.
Field borders and fills show on all records. The Layout Setup dialog box Delineate fields on current record only option is not supported.
Tell users to avoid adding leading or trailing spaces in a text field because the data may not appear in the text field when the solution opens in FileMaker WebDirect. If extra spaces are necessary, make sure the text field is wide enough to accommodate the extra spaces, or add a scroll bar to the text field.
Concealed edit boxes do not display carriage returns as concealed characters.
- Checkbox sets and radio button sets display as standard HTML controls; they do not support object styles. If they appear cropped, enlarge the fields on the FileMaker Pro layout.
- In pop-up menus and drop-down lists, web users can’t use an Edit item or an Other item to edit or add values to a value list.
Web users can insert a file of up to 300 MB into each container field. To insert files larger than 300 MB, use FileMaker Pro.
Web users can work with files of up to 300 MB in interactive container fields. If a file is larger than 300 MB, web users must export the contents of the container field to work with the file. To work with files larger than 300 MB in interactive container fields, use FileMaker Pro.
To allow web users to export data from container fields, set Available menu commands to All in the Edit Privilege Set dialog box.
- Minimize the number of custom styles applied to panel controls. If a custom style is applied to a panel control, the custom style may appear on other panel controls on the same layout, even if those controls have different styles.
- Objects placed on the tab label of a tab control are rendered in the panel area.
- When designing slide panels in your solution, select Show navigation dots in the Slide Control Setup dialog box to allow web users to navigate between slide panels with the slide control’s dots. Slide controls do not support swiping through panels in the web browser. As an alternative, you can define scripts to control the navigation between slide panels.
Popovers do not resize when the window resizes, so design popovers for the size of the web browser window. Resizing a browser window to be smaller than an open popover or opening a popover that is larger than the current window could produce unexpected results.
When a user scrolls in List View, popovers do not close until the user enters another record.
In List View, button bars may have different active segments for each record in the found set.
When a button bar resizes, the button bar displays its default active segment.
- Some webpages may not load correctly because their developers implemented security features. Test all webpages you intend to display in the web viewer.
- When you open a FileMaker WebDirect solution over a connection with SSL encryption, web viewers display only webpages that are secured with SSL encryption. Additionally, when you open a FileMaker WebDirect solution over a connection without SSL encryption, web viewers display only webpages that are not secured with SSL encryption.
- Web users might be able to interact with web viewer content in a limited way, even if you clear the Allow interaction with web viewer checkbox in the Web Viewer Setup dialog box. Limited interaction can also occur even if a web viewer is defined as a button.
- If the contents of a web viewer contain one or more comments, use C style comments. C style comments start with the characters /* and finish with the characters */. FileMaker WebDirect does not support C++ style comments, which begin with the characters // and finish at the end of the line.
- If the URL calculated by a web viewer does not include a colon (:), then FileMaker WebDirect adds the scheme http:// to the beginning of the URL. To avoid errors, include the appropriate scheme in the web address when you set up a web viewer.
- The Back and Forward options of the Set Web Viewer script step are not supported in FileMaker WebDirect. To navigate backward and forward within a web viewer in FileMaker WebDirect, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (macOS) within the web viewer and choose Back or Forward. If the layout has more than one web viewer, the shortcut menu works only with the web viewer that has most recently changed from one page to another, not necessarily the one the pointer is over.
- FileMaker WebDirect does not support web viewers whose content is published by FileMaker WebDirect. No webpage displays in a web viewer if the web viewer URL contains
- Content in a web viewer may have unintended effects on FileMaker WebDirect. For example, a URL (either a URL calculated from field data or a URL that the user sets by clicking a link in a web viewer) can specify a page that has the
target=topattribute. This attribute causes the page to replace FileMaker WebDirect in the web browser window.
Borders and padding
Object borders with a thickness that is not a whole number are rounded down to the nearest whole number. Thicknesses greater than 0 points but less than 1 point are increased to 1 point.
If you apply a border to a layout part or a layout background, do not place objects on the border. Otherwise, parts of objects that overlap the border will not render in the web browser.
If you apply an image slice fill to a layout part or a layout background, do not place layout objects on or near the image segments that border the layout part or layout background. Otherwise, layout objects may not render as expected.
To display the object’s contents a set distance from the object’s border, change an object’s padding. FileMaker WebDirect does not support indentation.
- The tab order might vary from the tab order in FileMaker Pro. Different browsers might support the tab order in a different manner.
- The tab order in a web browser includes edit boxes, concealed edit boxes, drop-down lists, pop-up menus, drop-down calendars, checkbox sets, radio button sets, and container fields.
- In Find mode, the tab order doesn't include calculation fields.
- iOS: If you're using the Smart Keyboard with iPad Pro, the tab order may not work as expected. For example, you may be able to tab into fields that are not included in the layout's tab order.
FileMaker WebDirect must be enabled in all databases. If you don’t want related files to be accessed directly, you can exclude a filename from FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center by selecting Don’t display in FileMaker WebDirect Launch Center in the FileMaker WebDirect Settings dialog box. See Choosing which users can access a solution.
Create identical accounts, passwords, and privilege sets in each file in a FileMaker WebDirect solution. When users enter the account and password for the first file, the information is used to authenticate related files.
Web browsers can’t display fields on a layout that are from another file, unless web users have access to an account in the file and the account has the fmwebdirect extended privilege enabled for FileMaker WebDirect. This limitation also applies to calculation fields that are based on field values from other files.
When a solution contains references to a protected related file that it is not authorized to access, web users cannot authorize access to the protected file in FileMaker WebDirect. Consequently, when web users open the solution, the file does not contain any data from the protected file. To prevent this situation, use FileMaker Pro to authorize all files that reference protected files. See FileMaker Pro Help.
- When a FileMaker Server deployment redirects a FileMaker WebDirect session between Web Publishing Engines, the hostname displayed in the URL bar changes to match the hostname of the destination WPE. Features that refer to specific WPE hostnames, such as web viewers, may return unexpected results.
- If the WPE is disabled on a machine in the deployment and a user uses that machine's URL to access FileMaker WebDirect, the user won't be redirected to an available WPE and won't be able to access FileMaker WebDirect.
- If the WPE is enabled on a worker machine, FileMaker WebDirect solutions are available through the worker machine, even if FileMaker WebDirect is disabled on the master machine.
- If you use a custom home page or if you host custom web content for your solution, make sure all custom content is hosted on all WPEs in the FileMaker Server deployment. Otherwise, some WPEs may not be able to access or display custom content.
- Displaying FileMaker WebDirect content in
<iframe>tags of separate webpages may lead to unexpected results.
- If FileMaker WebDirect can’t detect or doesn't support the web browser’s language, FileMaker WebDirect displays its interface, tooltips, and Help in English.