Before FileMaker Go came out, FMTouch was the only way to get FileMaker databases on an iOS device (there is also a FMTouchBB for Blackberry). FMTouch is an app that runs on the iPad (or iPhone/iPod Touch) and a matching plug-in that is installed in the FileMaker Pro application on the desktop computer. FMTouch works by using what is knows as a DDR (Database Design Report) from your FileMaker Pro database, then uploading that DDR to FMTouch on the iPad over wifi. Once installed and initialized, FMTouch is used offline and syncs with the desktop database whenever you choose.

The trick is getting the DDR. You can’t make one with the normal version of FileMaker Pro, it requires FileMaker Pro Advanced. However, FMTouch has a service where you can upload your database and they will make one for you. 

In order to work with FMTouch the size of the DDR report has to be smaller than 10MB. The DDR report from the database that I uploaded for PARP:PS is 28.8 MB, and too large for FMTouch. The PARP:PS database is also not optimized for a touch screen as the elements (check boxes, radio buttons, text fields) are too small.

The best answer that I could come up with was to make a smaller version of the database that only had the elements that we needed in order to use it in the field. The PARP:PS database is named PS_11.fp7. So I made another file with the same name (in a subfolder so to keep from getting confused) and stripped most of the database away. The main database has 34 tables. The iPad database has 12. The main database has 86 layouts and 60 scripts. The iPad database has 6 layouts and 2 scripts. The design elements are all larger and the layouts are sized to the iPad. The DDR for the new database is 5.6 MB.

You can download the whole kit here. The database is the same as the one I uploaded the other day but it has a dummy record for a trench and an SU. There is also a folder named iPad Database. Inside there is the iPad version of the database along with a DDR report of the same database. You can use these to experiment without having to create another DDR report. The instructions below summarize much of FMTouch’s own documentation which goes into greater detail and contains screenshots to help you along.

1. Download and install the FMTouch plug-in for FileMaker Pro.
2. Open the desktop version of the PS_11.fp7 database.
3. Open FMTouch on the iPad. It is easiest if the computer and iPad are on the same wifi network. This won’t work over my University’s wifi network so I have to create a local network.
4. On the iPad, select the i inside the circle on the lower right to configure the databases.
5. Click the + sign on the upper right to add a database.
6. Click the name of your computer running FileMaker and enter the sync key if you haven’t already.
7. On the desktop select the DDR named PS_11_fp7.xml.
8. Once that has been transferred, click the Initialized button on the lower right of the iPad.
9. One that is finished, click Done (twice).
10. The database has been installed on the iPad and is ready for use.

It is easiest to start some records in the desktop version and sync them to the iPad before use. That is because the iPad database uses pop-up menus for data entry and those values are not yet present. So the copy of the PARP:PS database has some dummy records in it to get you started. Exit the iPad database if you opened it and Sync with the desktop version. Your records will appear on the iPad in the SUList view. Tap on the Fill button on the right to see the data entry screen for that SU as a fill. You can add more SUs by tapping in the list view where the SU number goes and enter a number.

Play around, push buttons, kick tires. If I did something wrong on my end and you can’t get it working, let me know.

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