API's – Connect FileMaker the World, Save Time and Money
I've been busy working on several projects and have been lax as far as blogging goes (and I miss it, too). One of those projects required the use of two API's connecting FileMaker to WordPress and Kartra. Most people are familiar with WordPress – it's the world's most popular blogging software powering about 30% of all websites on the internet. Kartra is an extremely powerful sales funnel and marketing platform (among other things), and is a relative newcomer on the Internet. However, it is growing fast as it was designed by the worlds best internet marketers, Frank Kern.
Connecting FileMaker to WordPress and Kartra in 3 parts
That's right, this is the first in a series of three blog posts delivering the nuts and bolts of connecting FileMaker to WordPress and Kartra. We'll be using several tools to make these connections, including API endpoints, JSON, cURL, Postman, and a custom plugin for connecting FileMaker client and server to a WordPress site.
In Part One, we'll take a high level view, discussing the overall project, the needs we'll be meeting, and different tools used, and why we am using a given tool in the that area.
In Part Two, we'll dive deep into connecting to Kartra, using Kartra's inbound API to communicate with FileMaker Go and FileMaker Server. We'll be gathering client information from the end users (FM Go) such as device particulars and metadata about how they use the software solution, and providing information such as the expiration date for their subscription.
We used Kartra's outbound API at first, but chose to focus only on the inbound in the end. We used FM Better Forms, from Charles Delfs, to set up an endpoint to grab the outbound data packets and direct them to out FileMaker Server. FileMaker developers: If you need to connect FileMaker to websites, you need FM BetterForms. It's that simple.
We'll be using cURL and JSON to communicate with Kartra. And we'll use PostMan, a complete Application Development Environment (ADE) tool that simplifies using cURL to connect to an API, to help us build the cURL commands needed to make the connections. Postman is an essential tool every FileMaker developer should know and have in their toolbox.
In Part Three, we'll get into the details of connecting both FileMaker Server and FileMaker Go to WordPress. I'll discuss the very inexpensive plugin I chose, JSON API User Plus. I could have gone with the WordPress built in JSON API, but time was of the essence and learning the API seemed to be large project. JSON API User Plus offered a large installed support group and the developer was available for email support. Good support is important.
The Development Project - Why We Needed To Do This
The project my partners and I are working on is a business management solution for Part 107 Drone Pilots: DroneEutopia. Eutopia is pronounced the same as Utopia. We use the Greek version based on the Greek root word, eu-topos:
In 1516 Sir Thomas More wrote the first 'Utopia'. He coined the word 'utopia' from the Greek ou-topos meaning 'no place' or 'nowhere'. But this was a pun - the almost identical Greek word eu-topos means a good place.British Library
Drone Eutopia is completely FileMaker Go based and allows the user to manage every important aspect of running a commercial drone business. The user does not need a laptop or a desktop to run their solution - it runs on an iPad. Our users data is located on the iPad and there is no need to synch user data to/from a FileMaker Server. The only information we need to track is their subscription information, metadata, and their version number. And we needed a way to notify our users of an upgrade, along with a way to deliver the upgrade and install it.
At first, we planned to use FileMaker Server to handle those functions. But there was a rub: For different business to connect to FileMaker Server, even for just "Checking in", we had to buy concurrent user licenses. Since our target market has over 250,000 licensed drone pilots, the cost to just check-in periodically could be prohibitive. But we needed a central database to manage customer issues. The solution turned out to be relatively easy to implement: Use WordPress to store the information we needed from the Go users, then use FileMaker Server to grab that information from WordPress.
So, to meet our needs, we use the Kartra API to gather information from and send information to our users, and WordPress as an intermediary for the limited communications necessary to manage our clients needs such as updates.
Look for Part Two – connecting with Kartra – late this week or early next. Part Three – using WordPress as an intermediary – will follow a week or so later.
Necessity, who is the mother of invention.Plato