THERE HAVE BEEN lots of articles bemoaning WebDirect’s lack of support for printing. One of the options tossed about is using a robot FileMaker client–a standalone computer running FileMaker dedicated to processing print jobs for all users. Digital Fusion Weetbicks tried this approach, adding a twist that is simple and effective: Display the PDF in a container field, allowing the WebDirect user to see and print the report from their browser:
What is the basic framework outline?
In the framework we refer to the WebDirect user as RoboUser and the robot copy of FileMaker Pro tasked with producing report PDFs as RoboPrint. The basic process of events is as such:
- RoboUser initiates a print job
- RoboPrint is polling for new print jobs and detects the request from RoboUser
- RoboPrint then runs the report on behalf of RoboUser.
- The resulting report is saved as a PDF document onto the print job and marked as done.
- RoboUser now sees their report has been generated and is able to view the PDF.
That is it in a nutshell. Now how this all actually works is a little more in-depth so we’ll cover the process in a little more detail below and how this relates to the example framework file.
There are drawbacks to this approach, such as the robot client crashing and requiring human intervention. Also, the cost of dedicating a machine and a copy of FileMaker has to considered in the overall scheme of things.
Nevertheless, Weetbicks has successfully implemented this in a large WebDirect environment with great results. And they included a sample file and instructions for setup. Thanks, Weetbicks!