Tutorial 205:

Integration

Tutorial 205: Lesson 2

External SQL Sources (ESS)

Integrating with External SQL Sources (ESS)

The FileMaker Platform allows for quick and easy connections to certain other databases that speak a common language: SQL. If your business already uses an app like this, you may be able to connect your custom FileMaker app directly to it using the technique called ESS, or External SQL Sources.

ESS allows a live connection to outside systems directly from your FileMaker app. Unlike other integration techniques, ESS lets you use data tables from an external SQL source within your FileMaker app, just like native FileMaker tables. You can place ESS tables in your relationships graph, create relationships to them, and even create FileMaker layouts to display their data.

The videos below walk you through ESS from the introduction, through installation and usage tips and tricks. You'll learn:

  1. What ESS is and how it works
  2. How to install it (one video for Mac, another for Windows)
  3. How to use it

Why is this important?

  • Your users may need data from multiple apps, but you don't have to be a developer in multiple platforms. Apply your FileMaker skills to use SQL data in layouts, relationships, and even calculations specific to your custom app, so your users can see the data they need without shifting gears.

Video 1

Introduction to ESS

Learn more about what ESS is, how it works, and what you'll need to get going.

Watch Time: 5 minutes 

In this video, you will learn:

  • About ESS: Learn about the technique and the SQL sources available
  • How ESS works: Understand the functionality and how to prepare for set-up

Video 2

Setting up ESS on Mac OS

There are a few components you’ll need to install to use ESS. If you’re hosting your file so multiple users can log in at once, you’ll install those components on the host machine. Follow this video to set up ESS on a Mac.

Watch Time: 6 minutes 

In this video, you will:

  • Install a driver: download software to drive the connection
  • Configure a data source name (DSN): tell the driver to find your SQL source
  • Connect to the SQL source: bring SQL data into your FileMaker app

Video 3

Setting up ESS on Windows OS

There are a few components you’ll need to install to use ESS. If you’re hosting your file so multiple users can log in at once, you’ll install those components on the host machine. Follow this video to set up ESS on a Windows machine.

Watch Time: 6 minutes

In this video, you will:

  • Install a driver: download software to drive the connection
  • Configure a data source name (DSN): tell the driver to find your SQL source
  • Connect to the SQL source: bring SQL data into your FileMaker app

Video 4

Using ESS

See the details of how to use ESS tables and fields in your app. Learn the details of how the connection works, and how to make the most of it.

Watch Time: 6 minutes

In this video:

  • Shadow fields: see what SQL fields look like in your app (1:16)
  • Supplemental fields: add FileMaker fields to the SQL table (1:55)
  • Syncing tables and fields: bring new SQL fields into your app (2:18)
  • Adding relationships: link a FileMaker table to a SQL table (3:02)
  • Refreshing data: learn how ESS keeps data up-to-date (3:38)
  • Limitations: review the areas where ESS differs from native FileMaker data (4:16)

Related Resource

  • External SQL Data Source Overview. Learn more >
  • Community: FileMaker Shadow Tables and Fields. Learn more >
  • FileMaker Technologies: See how the FileMaker Platform integrates data structure, business logic, and user interface creation tools into one easy-to-use package. Learn more >