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Claris Pro Observations

We had the chance to try Claris Pro for a few days. While FileMaker Pro and Claris Pro are built from the same source code with a lot of build time switches, they are very similar (99% same), but have some differences in the user interface.

As an European, you quickly notice the latency to the data center in USA. Everything talking to a server is quite slow and I would expect Claris has to start with the international rollout of their servers before they start to really sell this to Europeans. Or before they start any Freemium offer. MongoDB would allow to place multiple servers around the globe, which synchronize themselves. Of course Claris would also need to put their own Claris Studio software on various servers around the globe and connect you to a nearby one.

The permanent login requirement is annoying. Every start, it may ask you for a login. Like there is a token that expires. Normally I would expect that Claris Pro can reauthenticate itself in the background automatically with the stored password and the old token. Even if you open a local Claris file, you have to be logged in, even if you just logged in and turned off the Wifi. Claris Pro should have the token and decide the login locally for the file.

The Claris Studio tables have no primary key visible. The MongoDB tables behind do of course have an OID, an object ID like a per record UUID. But the object ID from MongoDB is not visible in FileMaker. We quickly added a calculation field, which returns Get(RecordID), so we have an ID. Those IDs seem to count up over all tables and are not reused. It may make sense to add such ID fields to various tables. The Record ID starts at 1 for first record in first table. When you now add a record to another table, it gets Record ID 2. Further testing may show whether those record IDs are given by server or are set by Claris Pro for the shadow tables only.

Changes in the tables are eventually synchronized. You don't know when. Like you add a record on the website. Then you click in Claris Pro and it is not yet there. Later I open the database definition dialog and close it and the table updates. Not sure what operations trigger a refresh. I would assume the server pushes changes to the client and vise versa. Maybe it is every few minutes? For new fields from Claris Studio, you have to click the Synchronize button in the database design dialog and add new fields to the layouts manually.

Trying Claris Server for on-premise installation was a bit different than FileMaker Server. First I noticed in the readme the requirement for a desktop variant, so I created a new VM and installed a fresh copy of Ubuntu 20 desktop. After updating it, I copied the server installation zip over and expanded it. Then open Terminal, change to the folder and run "sudo apt install " followed by the full file path. The installer downloads and installs a couple of packages with libraries, fonts and java packages.

After installation, since we run a desktop, we can click the link in the terminal right away to open the server URL. We login with our admin account and then get asked for a Claris ID login. We got a Teams screen, without anything than a Next button. I run in circles a few time until I noticed, you have to click somehow on the teams text to have the team name appear below it! Without picking a team, I can't go in. When picking the team, I can't continue as it shows me "Insufficient privileges" error. Trying again and the team doesn't appear and after a few seconds, it continues automatically with "Unable to sign in". After a restart later, I try again and the same procedure works.

The server is installed in /opt/Claris/Server and we adjust our file paths for 12.5 in MBS Plugins to use the right folders. Also we discovered a problem with the server as the library paths don't work, so Claris may have to fix that for a next release.

Enough for today. I may look again when Claris Pro + Server gets an update.

Update: The plugin issue on server was fixed for 12.5pr4. Claris FileMaker Plugin
17 10 22 - 13:51

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