How to Connect FileMaker Pro 10 to eCommerce Software

by Ellis Davidson

FileMaker Pro 10 databases can be used either to host an eCommerce solution entirely on their own, or as an adjunct to additional eCommerce software. When used alongside other software, transactions conducted over the eCommerce software must have their data transmitted to FileMaker Pro for additional processing. It doesn't matter what eCommerce software you're using, as long as it has the ability to export and import data in formats that can be processed by FileMaker Pro.

1

Use messaging between FileMaker Pro and the eCommerce software in order to keep the two systems in synchronization when a significant event occurs in either. For example, your eCommerce software can send an email message when a new order occurs; this email can be sent to an account that is automatically monitored by FileMaker Pro, where it can trigger an action to add the order to its own database. Likewise, if a FileMaker Pro database is updated to list an item as out of stock, this can be accompanied by a FileMaker script that sends an email back to the eCommerce solution to update its own records. Many methods can be used for messaging: email, writing to files in a shared data space, or direct database commands such as the ODBC language.

2

Create export and import programming on both the eCommerce solution and in FileMaker Pro scripting that updates the other database with pertinent information. This is called batch processing, as it compiles all changes that have occurred in the database over a given period of time in a batch of exported records. Batch processes are typically run periodically, ranging from daily (for updates that are not time-sensitive) to a period of minutes (for information that should be reflected as soon as possible in the other system). Batch processing is always delayed compared to a messaging system, as messages are generated immediately by significant events. But batch processing has the advantage of being easier to audit, as fewer interactions take place between the FileMaker database and the eCommerce solution.

3

Consider replacing part or all of your current eCommerce solution with either internal FileMaker components or third-party middleware software that connects directly to the FileMaker database. FileMaker is capable of hosting a complete eCommerce solution without additional tools, and the advantage of doing so is that all of your eCommerce data is written directly to, or read from, the FileMaker database. Therefore, there is no synchronization issue to handle. The expense in terms of money and time of such a migration should be compared to the cost of setting up one of the messaging systems listed above. Either architecture may suit the needs of your business, depending upon your technical requirements and the cost of implementation.

About the Author

Ellis Davidson has been a self-employed Internet and technology consultant, entrepreneur and author since 1993. He has written a book about self-employment for recent college graduates and is a regular contributor to "Macworld" and the TidBITS technology newsletter. He is completing a book on self-employment options during a recession. Davidson holds a Bachelor of Arts in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.