Multi-User Versions and Networking

May 4, 2018 by
Multi-User Versions and Networking
True32 Corporation, Bobbo Buckley
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Multi-User and Networking

I've gotten a lot of questions about multi-user versions and networking (or accessing from multiple locations). So let's spend a little time discussing both topics.

Multiple Locations

Let's deal with accessing Custom Cabinet Estimator from multiple locations first (that has been the most common question so far). If you do not need multiple people accessing Custom Cabinet Estimator at the same time (simultaneously), then you do not need to order a multi-user version, order the single-user version.

Your options to access from multiple locations are many, but a few good options are:

  1. Use a laptop and install Custom Cabinet Estimator on that computer only, and take it everywhere you go so you always have access to it. For several years now, that has been my choice, to have a really good laptop (mine is a Surface Book Pro) and when I am in my office, I have a docking station that allows me to use my laptop screen and two additional screens, so it's every bit as usable as the best desktop setup, but still portable when I need that. If you are using it between your office and home, get two docking stations so you can have the same luxury at home.   

2. If you have a PC at work, another at home, or a laptop you carry back and forth but you almost always do your estimates on your office PC but want to occasionally do estimates on your laptop from home, or a home PC, I recommend getting either GoToMyPC or just use the free Google Remote Desktop extension for the Google Chrome browser (I've been using this for 3 or 4 years now, and it works great to access other PC's you own). This solution requires you to leave your office PC on 24/7, but that's a good idea anyway, and in most cases, it works flawlessly.   

3. Have your single-user copy of Custom Cabinet Estimator hosted (like the current version of Business Partner). I'll talk more about this below.   

4. NOT A GOOD OPTION, but I know some of you have been doing it with older versions of Business Partner based on my recommendation years ago. You can install Custom Cabinet Estimator in Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive and use it from multiple locations if you install the sync app for the service of your choice on all machines you intend to use. I did this successfully for a lot of years, but one mistake can cost you dearly (leave CCE open on one machine, go to another and open and use it, then close CCE and go to the first machine and close CCE on it, and you will have a genuine mess on your hands). WARNING- do this at your own risk, and call it the ultimate running naked in the woods, and don't ever say I recommended it. If you choose to do this, please forget my phone number when you find yourself cut, bruised, and bleeding from running naked in the woods.  


So, what if you need multiple users using Custom Cabinet Estimator at the same time? You also have several options, none of them easy and/or inexpensive:   

1. Contact one of the hosting companies and have Custom Cabinet Estimator installed on a shared server (this is how the current version 6 of Business Partner works, but the difference is, you will be taking care of this part yourself rather than me doing it for you like we were with Business Partner version 6, forcing us to markup the cost of the hosting service and to bill for that monthly or annually). If you have good fast internet service in all the locations you want to use Custom Cabinet Estimator from, this is a good option, and much simpler than the next option I will recommend. This option works great for some people, even single users that want to be able to get to Custom Cabinet Estimator from ANY COMPUTER ANYWHERE ANYTIME. The cons for this option is the monthly fees and possible slow software depending on bandwidth, and all the other things that can affect the speed of your Internet connection. If you choose this route, let me know and I will get you some names of hosting companies to contact.   

2. Full-blown network with a server, FileMaker Pro Server, and Custom Cabinet Estimator installed on the server and FileMaker Pro installed on all machines that need access to Custom Cabinet Estimator. This is an awesome solution with the single exception of investment required (it aint cheap). It's fast and bulletproof. If you choose this route, and don't have a good IT company or guy, I will add Keith Hill's contact information below (Keith can help you with everything you need including the server, computers, network equipment, setup, and maintenance).   

3. Faux network (aka: sort of a network network). Keith Hill can help you with this too. This would require a PC that plays the part of the server (nothing else on it), FileMaker Pro and Custom Cabinet Estimator on the fake server, and all the machines that will need to access Custom Cabinet Estimator. This aint cheap, but it's considerably cheaper than the full-blown network, and does not require the same level of support and maintenance a Server requires. If you choose this path, you need a designated PC that no one uses that serves as the server, and that PC counts as a user in Custom Cabinet Estimator, so if you need two people to be able to access Custom Cabinet Estimator simultaneously, you will need to order the 3 user version. The cons to this option are you are breaking all the rules, you can't backup easily, and if any one of the PCs crash, Custom Cabinet Estimator crashes for all users. We have several users doing this now, so feel free to call Keith Hill and ask him about the cost and implications. Again, choose this option at your own risk, it works but has inherent shortcomings.   

So there you have it, this is not all the options under the sun, but it's a good cross-section of the best I am aware of.    

FileMaker Pro Requirements:     

FileMaker Server:     

May the Lord bless the work of your hands, heart, and mind.

UPDATE: Don't do anything based on the Networking section of this post, the Launch of the Online Version of Custom Cabinet Estimator CHANGED EVERYTHING. Read more recent post to learn more.

Multi-User Versions and Networking
True32 Corporation, Bobbo Buckley May 4, 2018
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