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FileMaker is a registered trademark of FileMaker, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.


November 1999

Tales from the Script
by Brian Dunning

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It was a dark and stormy night...

Sheets of hard rain drummed the roof of his car as he squinted through the streaked windshield. The thick planks of the bridge cracked with age as his heavy wheels rolled slowly over the torrents below. A shock of white, as lightning snapped a photograph of the crumbling stone towers. He slammed the door and ran through the crazed maelstrom of water and shrieking wind. His shoes skidded on the wet cobblestones.

Rivers of rushing water cascaded down from the dizzying stone heights above. He raised the heavy iron knocker and let it fall once, twice, thrice. His suit jacket flapped in the wind as he stood waiting. A metallic thud from deep inside the heavy castle foundation, and the cacophony of chain rattling through cogs and machinery. The oaken gate shuddered as it rose. The tall gaunt figure, draped in a musty tuxedo, regarded him through dark eyes set deep in his pale gray face.

"You must be the FileMaker consultant," he said at last. "Please come in."

The Consultant stumbled forward and tipped the water out of his PowerBook case.

"I understand you're having some problems with your files."

"This way, sir." The tall man held aside some cobwebs and led the way down a murky spiral staircase, hewn from the living rock of Crag Horn. Startled by the torch, a furry spider scrambled into a dark crack.

"Ah, you're here at last," said the Professor, flipping the magnifying lens up from his glasses. "We've had a dastard of a problem with our database."

A villager, bound to the table with thick leather straps, groaned in agreement.

"See here," said the Professor, and worked the mouse. "Connection to the host has been lost."

"No problem," said the Consultant. "Where's your server?"

The Professor stared blankly. He turned to his buxom Assistant, who shrugged.

"The server," repeated the Consultant. "The computer where your files are being hosted from."

"Ya ya, is over here," said the Assistant, and her yellow pigtails swung as she turned to a workstation on her tidy desk. "Zis is hosting ze Procedures file and ze Patients file. Ze Instruments and Experiments files are on ze Professor's laptop. Except for his backups, which I keep here," and she clicked open a folder on her desktop.

The Consultant scratched his head and opened his mouth to speak, but the Professor interrupted: "And this file is losing records. I'll spend half a day inputting data, and the next morning they're all gone."

"Ya," said the assistant, "and whenever ze Professor does a Replace, I get ze coffee cup."

"You get the Professor's coffee?"

"No, I get ze coffee cup icon, and I have to force quit."

"While you're hosting other files?"

"Ya."

"And that's when the Professor's connection is lost."

The Professor and the Assistant exchanged a confused look.

"We think we need to switch to Access," said the Professor at last. "Can you help us do that?" The villager nodded his assent vigorously, as much as the restraints would let him.

"Hold it! You mustn't do that. You're already invested in FileMaker. Your report layouts are in FileMaker. All your data is in FileMaker, and…" he clicked open Define Fields… "look at all these calculation and summary fields. Access can't accommodate those. You'd lose almost everything you've done."

"But young man, we're having so many problems. FileMaker is a terrible database!"

"There's nothing wrong with FileMaker. What's wrong is the way you've configured your machines."

They gathered behind him as he sat down in the Assistant's orthopedic chair and launched FileMaker.

"See here. When you have backup copies of files on the same network, with the same name as the originals, there's no telling which copy FileMaker might open. That's why, Professor, some of your records appear to vanish. It's because you entered them into a different copy of the file.

"And look at this. This machine is hosting some of the files, and that machine is hosting others. If either machine crashes, or someone force-quits, both users are going to have corruption or a dropped connection."

"What should we do?"

"Install FileMaker Server! Put it on a dedicated machine, and don't let anyone touch it."

The Professor staggered back, clutching at his breast. "I can't afford that! A dedicated computer, and FileMaker Server! The cost! I'd have to excise dozens of…"

The villager scratched at his hollow cranium.

The Consultant silenced the Professor with an outstretched palm. "The cost? What is your time worth? What does it cost you every time you have re-input data? What does it cost you every time you rebuild corrupted files and reconstruct lost layouts? I say, you can't afford NOT to use FileMaker Server."

"It handles the backups automatically and unattended, so there will be no more multiple, unsynchronized copies on the network. When you crash your computer, or force-quit FileMaker for any reason, the files are unaffected. Your performance will improve dramatically, and you can say goodbye permanently to all the problems you've had!"

"Sold!" said the Professor and his Assistant in the same breath. The Consultant felt the tall man's sturdy hands close around his arms from behind.

"Now be a good lad," said the Professor, "and climb up on the table."

Browse Mode
Jan 10 Solving Performance Emergencies with FileMaker Server
Aug 06 Top Ten Sessions Cut from the 2006 FileMaker Developer Conference
Jul 06 Who's Driving This Thing, Anyway? Or, How Marketing and Engineering Buried the Hatchet (Warning: Contains a Curse Word)
Nov 05 Shingle Grandiloquence
Oct 05 In Celebration of Geek Magnetism
Aug 05 A Rogues' Gallery of Devcon Attendees
Mar 05 Lies, Damned Lies, and Project Specifications
Feb 05 Pick the Right Tool for the Job
Oct 04 Home Media Server Requirements
Jul 04 Leveraging Your FileMaker Lingo
Apr 04 Technical Support Redux
Mar 04 Enforce Seats in FileMaker 7/8/9 Commercial Solutions
Feb 04 Reinventing the Wheel
Oct 03 WAP: The Technology That Wasn't
Aug 03 Brian Dunning's California Governor Election Platform
Jul 03 Sex and the Single Software Developer
May 03 XSLT: Creeping Out of the Closet?
Feb 03 A Consultant's Guide to Traveling
Nov 02 Adventures of Bat Magnum, FileMaker Consultant
Sep 02 FileMaker at Area 51
Aug 02 FileMaker Terminology
Feb 02 Computer Shunts
Dec 01 Aquabase Alpha & the Consultant's Challenge
Aug 01 It IS the Size That Counts
Jun 01 On the Trail of Sasquatch
May 01 Spring Cleaning
Feb 01 FileMaker Mobile Survivor Challenge
Jan 01 Letter from Nürburg
Dec 00 Performance Anxiety
Nov 00 Objection, Your Honor
Oct 00 Leveraging Convergence: Jargon for the 21st Century
Sep 00 Top Ten Things to Do at Devcon
Aug 00 Aesop's FileMaker Fables
Jul 00 Ten Commandments of FileMaker Pro
Jun 00 Explats Cross Examined
May 00 iMac, Therefore iServe
Mar 00 Valley of the Dollars
Jan 00 Are You Up for a Review?
Nov 99 Tales from the Script
Sep 99 Tech Support Revisited
Jul 99 Moderns vs. Classicals
Mar 99 Nashoba, We Hardly Knew Ye