Getting FileMaker Go databases onto an iOS device using Dropbox


Update 2017-08-31 – This article is getting a little long in the tooth. FileMaker Go doesn’t look like this any more. There are easy ways to get files to and from Google Drive, Dropbox and iCloud using the sharing menu in iOS. Here is an article about using Google Drive from a web client as well as iOS written by Cloudwards.

FileMaker Go is a great technology to allow users to take their databases on the road. In a corporate setting sharing data is easy, just put the database on FileMaker Server and access the database via the Internet using a domain name or an IP address. Individual users without such a setup are left with a more complicated approach to getting their database onto their iOS device (iPhone/iPad/iPod). Dropbox, a cloud-base file sharing service, offers an alternate wireless route to getting databases onto an iPhone that doesn’t require plugging into a computer and launching iTunes.

Thanks to Joshua Paul at Neo Code Software for this tip. He set his sharing up using Syncplicity and details it here. I tried it with DropBox and got stumped, then he pointed out that I just left out the last step. Click the action arrow at the bottom right to send it to FileMaker Go. (Duh). Thanks Josh.

The Old Way

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The standard way to get a database onto an iPhone is to plug in the device, launch iTunes and then do the following steps

  1. Select the device
  2. Select Apps
  3. Scroll to File Sharing area
  4. Scroll Apps list to find FileMaker Go
  5. Click on FileMaker Go
  6. Drag and Drop an App to the “FileMaker Go Documents” area

Dropbox and FileMaker Go

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Using FileMaker Go and Dropbox is fairly straight forward. Obviously a Dropbox account is required. I won’t detail the process of obtaining an setting this up as it is available elsewhere. Download a copy of the free Dropbox iPhone app.

Drag and Drop your database file into a Dropbox folder

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On your computer, drag and drop the FileMaker database you wish to send to your iDevice. Then, on your iPhone or iPad, log into your Dropbox account using the free Dropbox app.

FileMaker database file in Dropbox App list

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Tapping on the file will start the download to your iOS device.

Database File downloading

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Depending on the size of your database this will take a few seconds or minutes to load.

Use the Action icon to open the file in FileMaker Go.

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Once the file has downloaded on your device, you should see this screen. This is where I got stopped. It does say “Unable to view file” after all. But of course there are more options under the action menu at the bottom right.

Prompted to select an App to open the file

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Tap on FileMaker Go to open your database in FileMaker Go.

File launched in FileMaker Go

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The downside of this technique is that, currently it appears this is a one way street.  Once you download the file to your iPhone and then make changes, they don’t go back to the DropBox version. There appear to be no way for FileMaker Go to send it back to DropBox when closed.

Related Articles:
Where Am I? Using FileMaker Go 12 to track your Location
“FileMaker Go” demonstrates Apple’s double standard on Flash
‘FileMaker Go for the iPhone’ – a First Look

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12 Responses to “Getting FileMaker Go databases onto an iOS device using Dropbox”

  1. Now explain a way to get a FM Go file back into Dropbox exported from the app!

  2. Yup, thats too bad. But what we really want is to know if two Macs can work on the same file at the same time. *That* would be great. Oh and one other thing, can Filemaker create a database that can be viewed with Bento? If so, this would allow us to use iCloud and Bento for syncing information. Filemaker would simply be used to create the database.

    • Two users cannot share a runtime. FileMaker Inc. wants to you to purchase two licenses to achieve that. FileMaker Pro will not talk to Bento databases as far as I know.

  3. With a jailbrokem iPhone or iPad you can save the file locally aftet changes then use Ifile to put it in your drop box

  4. Great suggestion esp when you are testing files and do not need any syncing… Thanks!

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