Ease of access is one of the top requirements to make a database usable to people. In FileMaker Pro, we’ve created shortcut files that open another database before closing themselves to launch a user directly to a hosted file.

In FileMaker Go we’ve used the Apple configuration utility to create iOS icon shortcuts that launch users into a database using the FMP:// protocol.

Now with FileMaker WebDirect, we have the ability to launch a user to a custom homepage, directly to a database and specify a return URL. If you couple some basic knowledge of creating URL shortcuts with the information below, you can take away a lot of the stress of connecting to your FileMaker WebDirect solutions.

Preliminary ideas

Setting up a custom homepage is a great way to start customizing your FileMaker WebDirect installation. You can refer to the FileMaker WebDirect Guide on page 27 for how to create and place a custom homepage.

If you are going to have regular FileMaker WebDirect users, creating shortcuts for them is essential. You can either add bookmarked URLs to their browser or create desktop shortcuts that launch URLs.

Cool tip: most modern browsers allow you to drag and drop a URL from the address bar to the desktop, automatically creating a shortcut. You can even go one step further and customize the icon for the shortcut to something unique for your solution!

Linking directly to a database

You can link directly to a database by adding then database_name to the end of your server address. For example, if your server is fm.yoursite.com and you’re opening the server sample file, it would appear as http://fm.yoursite.com/fmi/webd#FMServer_Sample. Note that a forward slash is not required before the pound sign, but it does work if you have it there.

Adding the homeurl parameter

The homeurl parameter allows you to specify a return URL for the user. This is the URL that the user will be directed to when they manually exit, or click a button with the close file, or exit application script steps.

The syntax for this parameter is ?homeurl=_URL. Using our example above, to return the user to www.othersite.com, this would appear as http://fm.yoursite.com/fmi/webd?homeurl=http://www.othersite.com#FMServer_Sample. Note that the pound sign and database name are on the end now. If you leave the pound sign and database name off, it will still take you to the FileMaker WebDirect homepage and honor your homeurl request when you select a database to open.

Creating an auto-login system

So you’ve got the shortcuts set up, URLs written, so what’s next? To make things even easier on your users you could create your own auto-login system. The basic premise is that you create a table to store devices that log the PersistentID of the device. When a user returns, it validates their current PersistentID against the table and logs them in if there is a match.

Note that in FileMaker WebDirect, the PersistentID is changed anytime a user clears their cookies. So FileMaker WebDirect users will need to re-login anytime they clear their cookies. Your users can either be a table, or FileMaker accounts, but if you use FileMaker accounts, you would need to store the user passwords either in a script or table, which might not meet some security guidelines.

We’ve put together a simple-auto login file demonstrating this technique.

5 comments

  1. Hi,

    I have been experimenting with just this kind of auto login capability and have discovered that the value returned by Get(PersistentID) changes every time you restart the browser.

    I have come to the conclusion that this will not work more often than it does work and so a completely different approach is required, but if you think otherwise I’d love to hear your thoughts…

    Thanks

    Posted by Paul Jansen on July 7, 2015. Reply

  2. Hi Paul,

    This was a simple demo working within the confines of the default available tools. If you look at the work we did on enabling WebDirect URL parameters, you can use PHP files to set and track your own cookies with all of your users; and passing those IDs as parameters into filemaker. This would be a lot more reliable and controllable then the default cookies that WebDirect creates for it’s own purposes.

    https://www.gomainspring.com/simple-time-savers/enabling-webdirect-url-parameters/

    If you need help implementing something like this, please get in touch!

    Posted by Mike Beargie on July 7, 2015. Reply

  3. Thanks so much for these instructions and example, as trying to figure out the instructions that filemaker gives in their guide would have been impossible for me. I am now able to get my client to login from a custom webpage and logoff to a custom web page. Awesome

    Posted by Kevin on August 1, 2015. Reply

    • Hi Kevin, I’m glad this is still proving useful. Please let us know if you need any additional assistance.

      In FileMaker 14, WebDirect URL parameters are re-enabled, but still this PHP passing data method is still quite valuable for other things. Stay tuned for more!

      Posted by Mike Beargie on August 3, 2015. Reply

  4. Note if you need to combine a homeurl parameter with ‘script’ and ‘parameter’ parameters you have to do it like this:

    https://bsc-ct.org/fmi/webd?homeurl=http://www.abc.org#wdfilename?script=start&param=adbb94f8-23c6-11e6-8265-00155d0c0d2e

    Took me a bit of trial and error to get this working :)

    Posted by Oliver Reid on June 8, 2016. Reply

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *