Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

About StudioSchool Pro

Purchasing StudioSchool Pro

Installing StudioSchool Pro

Using StudioSchool Pro

Troubleshooting




  • How did StudioSchool Pro originate?
    StudioSchool Pro was originally designed by William Loving of Dedication Technologies, beginning in 1996, for use by the Northampton Community Music Center in Massachusetts. Like many small organizations, the Northampton Community Music Center was struggling to manage it's mailing list and class registrations without the benefit of an integrated database. A relational database system was developed in FileMaker Pro that did away with record duplication issues and utilized a centralized list of contacts for tracking donations, class registrations and billing.

    Since 2001, the development of this system, now called StudioSchool Pro, has broadened in scope to include member/donor levels, donor tracking, fundraising campaign management, and receivables reporting. These new features allow StudioSchool Pro to address the database management needs of most non-profit organizations as well as businesses and municipalities involved in education or training. The current feature set of StudioSchool Pro has been developed in direct response to input from users. We continue to actively solicit feedback from current and potential users for useful features to incorporate in future versions.

    We are deeply grateful to the Northampton Community Music Center and Jason Trotta and Jeremy Marusek in particular for their feedback and support.

  • What is the difference between the Single-User Version and the Multi-User Version of StudioSchool Pro?
    The Single-User version of StudioSchool Pro is limited so that it cannot be shared or accessed via a network. The Single-User version comes with one license for FileMaker Pro.

    The Multi-User version can be shared over a network (local or wide area) and accessed simultaneously by mulitple users (when used with FileMaker Server). It comes with two (2) FileMaker Pro workstation licenses and requires the installation of FileMaker Pro on each workstation that will be accessing it. It also requires the installation of FileMaker Server on a dedicated computer that is not being used as a workstation (an existing server machine may be used). FileMaker Server hosts a single set of the StudioSchool Pro files that are accessed and modified by all users using FileMaker's built-in networking.

  • Does StudioSchool Pro require the use of FileMaker Pro?
    Yes, StudioSchool Pro was developed using FileMaker Pro and both the Single-User and Multi-User versions require the use of FileMaker Pro to run. The multi-user version requires and includes FileMaker Server.

  • What are the hardware and software requirements for StudioSchool Pro?
    StudioSchool Pro's hardware and software requirements are the same as those of FileMaker Pro. We recommend checking the technical specifications pages on FileMaker's website for both FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server.

  • What versions of FileMaker does StudioSchool Pro work with?
    StudioSchool Pro 4 or 5 will run in FileMaker Pro 9 or higher but is optimized for FileMaker Pro 10 or higher.
    StudioSchool Pro 3 runs using FileMaker Pro 6 only. End users cannot updated version 3 to run with more recent versions of FileMaker, but our upgrade process to version 5 will convert all you data for you.

  • How can I use StudioSchool Pro with my accounting program?
    StudioSchool Pro is designed to be used as a "Receivables Module" in coordination with an accounting program such as QuickBooks or MYOB. StudioSchool Pro tracks Income and Payments from class registrations and donations, as well as various deductions such as scholarships, discounts, and other adjustments. To do this, during initial setup, the user creates a Chart of Accounts that matches that of their accounting application, for example, Tuition Income 4-4100, Faculty Discounts 5-5200, etc.

    When a transaction occurs such as a class registration or donation, StudioSchool Pro creates individual transaction records for tracking each portion of the transactions. For example, a class registration having a registration fee, class fee, scholarship and material fee, would have a separate transaction record for each part, as is normal accounting practice. Similarly, other interactions such as donations, payments, refunds, etc., are tracked in the General Ledger.

    The Income related transaction records are then periodically 'Posted' by the user within StudioSchool Pro - most commonly on a monthly basis. Upon posting, and using a summary report generated by StudioSchool Pro, the user enters the total for each Income or Cost account in their accounting program as either General Ledger transactions or as part of an Invoice.

    Payment reports work similarly and act as a check against your deposit records for your bank and credit card merchant accounts. Payment reports are summarized by day and type (Cash, Check, Visa, MC, etc.). A separate Refund report similarly shows refunds by day and type.

    Using this system, all transactions in SSP are summarized and only the totals are entered in your book-keeping application. SSP has built-in reports to show past summaries for any specific date or date range, either in detail or totals.

    Sample copies of the Income, Payments and Refund reports are available in the SampleReports.pdf file. They can also be generated directly within the demo version from the "Reports" tab in Registration.

    Users are, of course, free to do their record keeping separately in their accounting program. For a detailed description of Acccounting in StudioSchool Pro see this Accounting.pdf document.

  • Does StudioSchool Pro do invoicing?
    For schools which require the ability to send invoices for outstanding balances, StudioSchool Pro offers summarized invoicing for each family and standard 30/60/90 day aging reports.

  • Does StudioSchool Pro support online registration?
    We are currently working to develop an online registration function which will allow organizations to leverage their investment in StudioSchool Pro and avoid having to create an expensive and/or non-integrated custom web registration system. Classes would be uploaded directly from StudioSchool Pro, registrations would be downloaded directly into StudioSchool Pro and all payments would be handled locally by the organziation rather than the web server. We are interested in your feedback on this new feature. Please call if you have comments or questions.

  • Can I get a sample of StudioSchool Pro's Reports and Printouts?
    Yes, just click HERE to download a PDF file containing a sample of StudioSchool Pro's reports including: donation and campaign reports; payments, invoices, and receivables reports; class lists and student geographical distribution summaries.

Purchasing StudioSchool Pro

  • What is the least expensive way for our organization to acquire additional copies of FileMaker Pro on which to run the Multi-User version?

    The Multi-User version of StudioSchool Pro includes two FileMaker Pro licenses. The easiest way to obtain additional licenses, including licenses for FileMaker Server, is to purchase them with your copy of StudioSchool Pro. Through our contract with FileMaker, Inc., we are able to provide these licenses at very reasonable cost. See our purchase page for current pricing. Organizations that already own FileMaker Pro can continuing using their current licenses; those using older versions of FileMaker Pro will need to upgrade to version 9 or higher and may find purchasing new licenses from us less expensive then the normal upgrade pricing. Please note that hard copy FileMaker Pro manuals are not included with StudioSchool Pro or with additional FileMaker Pro licences purchased through Dedication Technologies. FileMaker Pro manuals are available for $20 per set from FileMaker, Inc. StudioSchool Pro manuals are also available from Dedication Technologies for $20 per copy.

  • We already own some FileMaker Pro licenses. Can we use these with StudioSchool Pro?
    StudioSchoo Pro 4 or 5requires the FileMaker Pro 9 or higher, and for the multi-user version, FileMaker Server 9 or higher. (Your purchase entitles you to the current FileMaker version license but we can also provide an installation key for older version.) If your copies of FileMaker licenses meet these requirements, you can use them. StudioSchool Pro requires several third-party FileMaker Plugins which must be installed. These are platform specific and can be downloaded from our Support page along with installation instructions. StudioSchool Pro 3 requires FileMaker Pro 6.04 and FileMaker Server 5.5 and cannot be used directly with more recent versions of FileMaker. Our version 3 to version 5 upgrade process will migrate all your version 3 data to the new version 5.

  • Can we use the FileMaker Pro licenses that come with StudioSchool Pro to run other FileMaker databases that we create or buy?
    Absolutely. These are full FileMaker Pro licenses and copies of FileMaker Pro. Although you cannot make design and layout changes to StudioSchool Pro, you can most certainly create or open other FileMaker databases using the FileMaker Pro application just as you would with a retail version. The one thing that does not come with the FileMaker Pro licenses included with StudioSchool Pro is normal end-user access to FileMaker's technical support. If you are having a problem with FileMaker and StudioSchool Pro, please use our Support page to submit a support request. For problems with FileMaker not involving StudioSchool Pro, you may call FileMaker's Technical Support line (408-727-9004) and purchase single or multiple incident support options or check out FileMaker's TechInfo Knowledge Base.

Installing StudioSchool Pro

  • What are these "plug-ins" for FileMaker Pro that StudioSchool requires?
    A number of companies make "plug-ins" for FileMaker Pro that extend it's capabilites, giving a developer the ability to add features that may not be possible in the current version of FileMaker Pro. (FileMaker, Inc. officially calls them "Extensions" but all the manufacturers call them "plug-ins".) StudioSchool Pro currently uses four plug-ins to increase security, faciliate user interaction and to manage updates.

  • Where can I get the latest version of the plug-ins?
    Plug-in sets for each operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, Mac OS 9) are available on our support page.

  • How do I install the plug-ins in StudioSchool Pro 4 or 5?
    These instructions are for StudioSchool Pro 4 or 5 and FileMaker Pro 9 or higher only.
    The plug-ins should be installed "loose" (not enclosed by another folder) into the "Extensions" folder found within the FileMaker Pro application folder.

    For Windows, the usual path is:
    C: Program Files/FileMaker/FileMaker Pro 9/Extensions

    For Macintosh OS X, the usual location is:
    Hard Drive -> Applications -> FileMaker Pro 9 -> Extensions


    If FileMaker is running when you add the extensions, you will need to Quit and restart FileMaker before it will recognize the plug-ins. To confirm that the extensions are installed correctly, go to Preferences --> Application within FileMaker and click the "Plug-ins" tab. The plug-ins should be listed with check marks in the boxes next to each name. The plug-ins currently in use in StudioSchool Pro are:

    Troi File Plug-in
    Troi Dialog Plug-in
    FMExample

  • How do I install the plug-ins in StudioSchool Pro version 3?
    These instructions are for StudioSchool Pro 3 and FileMaker Pro 6 only.
    The plug-ins should be installed "loose" (not enclosed by another folder) into the proper folder which varies by name according to OS. Under Windows, the proper folder is call "System", on Mac OS, it is called "FileMaker Extensions". The folder listed below is always to be found in the FileMaker Pro 6 Program folder. Here is the usual path

    Windows: c: Program Files/FileMaker/FileMaker Pro 6/System
    Mac OS X: Hard Drive -> Applications -> FileMaker Pro -> FileMaker Extensions
    Mac OS 9: Hard Drive -> Applications (OS 9) -> FileMaker Pro -> FileMaker Extensions

    If FileMaker is running when you add the extensions, you will need to Exit and restart FileMaker before it will recognize the plug-ins. To confirm that the extensions are installed correctly, go to Preferences --> Application within FileMaker and click the "Plug-ins" tab. The plug-ins should be listed with check marks in the boxes next to each name. The plug-ins currently in use in StudioSchool Pro are:

    Troi File Plug-in
    Troi Dialog Plug-in
    DialogMagic
    SecureFM
  • What are the hardware and software requirements for the single and multi-user versions of StudioSchool Pro? Can I just run FileMaker Server on a spare machine?
    Whether you are running FileMaker Server on a dedicated computer or on your regular server, we strongly recommend following the hardware and OS requirements for FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server as specified on the FileMaker website.

    See additional notes below regarding system requirement differences between FileMaker 6 and FileMaker 9.

  • Do I have to purchase FileMaker Server or can I just host StudioSchool Pro using a regular copy of FileMaker Pro?
    Using a copy of FileMaker Pro to host StudioSchool Pro can and is being used by some organizations but it is not recommended. The desktop version of FileMaker Pro does have the ability to host networked files, but as a "single-threaded" application, it has limits to the number of files and simultaneous users it can handle. We do not support configurations more than two (2) users without the use of FileMaker Server. When setup in this configuration, the host machine is usually being used as a general workstation. Computers used as workstations are much more likely to crash than a dedicated server that is never used otherwise, and crashing a machine hosting database files can result in damaged files.

    If you do choose to setup your network using the hosting capabilities built into the desktop version of FileMaker Pro, we will will only provide technical support if there is a maximum of one guest. We strongly recommend that all Multi-User license holders use FileMaker Server on a dedicated machine. See the next question for a complete explanation of why we recommend FileMaker Server.

  • Why is FileMaker Server better than using FileMaker Pro (desktop version) for hosting over a network?
    There are at least four compelling reasons for using FileMaker Server to host rather than the desktop version of FileMaker Pro.
    1. FileMaker Server has built-in backup scheduling that can make multiple backups to multiple locations as frequently as necessary. With the desktop version, the files must be manually closed on the host machine and made unavailable to the network during the backup which should be performed at least daily. Open files cannot be reliably backed up.
    2. FileMaker Server only does hosting, so all accessing of the files is via the network. This prevents the temptation to perform operations on the host machine which might affect other users. As noted above, the temptation when using the FileMaker Pro (desktop) to host is to use the host machine for general workstation tasks, leading to problems when that machine crashes or locks up.
    3. FileMaker Server is "multi-threaded" software designed to handle many requests simultaneously with much greater speed than is possible for the desktop version.
    4. FileMaker Server supports simultaneous access for up to 250 users, while the desktop version is quite limited in the number of users that can connect. Many FileMaker developers currently recommend the use of FileMaker Server for any configuration with more than 2 users.
  • We already have a dedicated File Server. Can we run FileMaker Server on this machine so that we don't have to purchase another computer?
    FileMaker, Inc. officially recommends having FileMaker Server run on a dedicated computer. However, in practice, many organizations install FielMaker Server on their existing server and use this arrangement successfully. The key requirement here is that FileMaker Server be installed on a machine that is NOT being used as a workstation.

Using StudioSchool Pro

  • Codes vs Group/List Function: What is the difference between using "Codes" and the "Group/List" function?
    Here are some tips on using Codes vs Groups:
    • Codes must be unique and not includes other codes within their names. So for instance if you have two codes: "Board" and "Board - Ex", searching for "Board" will give you both since they both contain the phrase "Board". If you now go to change your code list to get rid of overlapping code names, keep in mind that changing the name in the Value List area, does NOT change all those records that are already marked for the old code. You will have to mark them again for the new one.
    • A better way to keep track of all your lists is the "Group/List" function which allows you to call the group whatever you want, create ongoing groups or just one-off mailings and automatically prevents duplicates within the same group. In most cases, groups are preferred over codes though codes still have their uses. We’ve preserved codes because it was part of the original SSP but I regularly recommend people check out Groups instead for the reasons sited above. Group/List can be found under "Fundraising" because it was originally developed to created targeted solicitor lists, however people now use it for everything, especially mailings, and it has it’s own area in the version 5. You can create groups on the fly using the "Save List" function in list view or one at a time in Fundraising -> Group List. You can also add people individually to groups on their Donor Details tab or again through the Save List function. Check the manual for more details.

  • I'm familiar with FileMaker Pro. Can I modify the layouts and add my own fields?
    No. In order to be able to provide a consistent interface and allow for automated upgrades when revised versions are released, StudioSchool Pro is not an "unlocked" FileMaker solution. Your end-user license specifically prohibits modification of the software in this way. We are however, VERY open to suggestions for new features and capabilities that would make StudioSchool Pro an even more effective tool for managing your organization. We are also working to incorporate an end-user editable module which will allow access to some layouts in a future version of StudioSchool Pro.

  • Can users access StudioSchool Pro from other locations outside our local area network (LAN)?
    Yes, with the proper router configuration and network setup, a user can access the system from home or other remote location. A broadband internet connection is required on both ends of the connection. The following steps must be done to make this work. Your IT coordinator should be able to help with this. For a more detailed set of instructions and an explanation of Dynamic DNS, see Remote Access Instructions

    • The Host computer must have FileMaker Server started and running StudioSchool Pro.
    • The Host computer must have a fixed internal IP address assigned to it, for example, 192.168.1.160.
    • The Guest computer must have a copy of FileMaker Pro with the plug-ins required by StudioSchool Pro.
    • The broadband router at the office must be configured to forward Port 5003 for TCP to the Host machine.
    • The router must be using either a static IP address provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or use a Dynamic DNS address lookup through dyndns.org or other dynamic DNS hosting service
    • Connect to the Hosted database from the Guest computer over the internet.

  • How do we update our copy of StudioSchool Pro to the most recent version?
    Dedication Technologies periodically releases updates to StudioSchool Pro which include both new features and fixes for reported issues. An email is sent to all users that includes a download link for the update. To update your copy of StudioSchool Pro download the update and then follow these instructions.

  • What do you recommend we do to backup our database (and other data)?
    For many organizations struggling just to get everything done, making backups of critical data is often an afterthought if it gets done at all. The "old" saying goes that there are two types of people: those whose computers have crashed and those whose computers WILL crash (or be stolen, damaged, etc.) Whether you are using the Single or Multi-User Version of StudioSchool Pro, your organization should have a plan in place for backing up those files and ALL of your critical data including a routine for keeping a recent copy of that data off-site. The following recommendations apply to any FileMaker Pro based database system, not just StudioSchool Pro.

    • Backing up the Single-User Version: Be sure to Exit/Quit FileMaker Pro and then copy the StudioSchool Pro folder to a Zip disk, CD, external hard drive, network drive or other location. The key requirement here is that the files NOT be open or in use. Copies made of open files will nearly always be corrupt. If you are using an automated backup software such as Dantz Retrospect, be sure that it is scheduled to run at a time when the database is not in use.

    • Backing up the Multi-User Version: If you are using StudioSchool Pro without FileMaker Server, follow the directions for the Single-User Version above. For FileMaker Server users, we recommend you setup one or more "Schedules" the FileMaker Admin Console to create backup copies of your database files at regular intervals. For instance, some users set up 2 folders - "AM Backup" and "PM Backup" - and create a "schedule" in FileMaker Server to send backups to each folder once a day. Some organizations create 4 folders and set up something similar but for alternate days. However you choose to set it up, you will be assured of having multiple backups of your database.

      What happens though if all those backups are on the same hard drive and that drive crashes or the comptuer is stolen as has happened to a few of our clients? You need a system, preferably somewhat automated, to make sure that (1) the backups created by FileMaker Server are further backed up to a different media - tape drive, zip, CD, external hard drive, etc. - and, (2) that those additional backups are safely stored but readily available. Some organizations use tape backup drives or flash drives, others use multiple external hard drives (now that they are priced so low) and swap them out periodically. Talk with your IT coordinator about what works best for you, but come up with a plan and stick with it. You may never need your backups, but like any good insurance policy, it will be there if you do. For additional details on backing up see this page.

  • I have a great suggestion for a feature I'd like to see in StudioSchool Pro, how can I tell you about it?
    Great! We love to hear suggestions for new features or better ways to do things. We keep a list and try to implement the most popular requests as quickly as possible. Please make your suggestion HERE, giving as much detail as possible.

Troubleshooting

  • FileMaker Server 5.5 installed but SSP_Setup.fp5 is not appearing in the Hosts dialog of our workstations. What's wrong?
    There are several conditions under which hosted FileMaker files may not appear in the "Hosts" dialog:

    • The most common reason is that the data files are not in correct location. In this case, the Server name will appear in the Hosts dialog, but no hosted files are listed. On either Windows or Macintosh platforms, the files must be located within the FileMaker Server 5.5 application folder. The 30 or so files that make up the StudioSchool Pro files set must be contained in one and only one folder. The easiest way to ensure that this is done correctly is to drag the folder named "Databases" into your FileMaker Server 5.5 folder. Be sure to always stop FileMaker Server before moving any files and restart once the move is complete.

    • On Windows only, the Built-In Firewall may block FileMaker Server from being visible on the network. To fix this problem you need to add FileMaker Server as a "Exception" to the Firewall's settings. Under the Start Menu, go to: Control Panel -> Network Connections -> Control-Click on LAN -> Properties -> Advanced -> Firewall Settings -> Exceptions -> Add Program -> Select FM Server to add to application list (whew!)

    • On either Windows or Macintosh, hosted files may not appear under Local Hosts if the server is on a different subnet than the guest machine. To see if this is the case, check that the IP address of both machines is the same for the first three sections, for example, if the server's IP address is 192.168.1.10 and the guest's address is 192.168.1.100 then they are on the same subnet. However, a computer with an IP address of 192.168.2.100 is not.

    • In certain rare cirumstances, even two computers on the same subnet may not "see" each other readily. To test if this is the case, on the guest workstation, click "Specify Host" and enter the IP address of the Server. If the StudioSchool Pro files become visible but are not visible under "Local Hosts" have you network adminstrator check for problems with the network and assignment of IP addresses.

  • FileMaker Server 5.5 won't uninstall.
    To upgrade from FileMaker Server 5.5 to a later version on the same computer requires that you uninstall FM Server 5.5. Beware that there is a known "uninstall" bug with the 5.5 version of FileMaker Server on Windows XP and 2000 (and possibly others) that may prevent you from succeeding. To uninstall FMS 5.5 on in this circumstance using Windows Uninstall Software feature, you must first run an update that can be found at:

    FileMaker Downloads

    Under "Updates and supporting files for FileMaker 7 and earlier versions". This should solve the problem but occasionally does not. FileMaker no longer supports this version 5.5 so don't bother calling technical support. Sometimes the uninstaller will ask you to insert the original install CD which is not always handy. We have found that a downloaded disk image of the installer will sometimes be sufficient to allow the uninstall to go through.

    In rare circumstances, when the uninstall of FMS 5.5 will simply not work, the simplest remedy is to either go to a different computer or do a complete wipe and re-install of the server. This has the added benefit of cleaning up and viruses or other no longer needed files.

    Once the old version of FMS is successfully removed, the install for FMS 9 (or later) generally goes fairly easily. A reminder to download and run any updates that are available. If FMS is installed correctly, you should be able to go to any guest computer, click "Open Remote" and see the "FM Server Sample" file. If the server is not local you may need to enter the IP Address by clicking "Add" under Favorite hosts.

  • Our WAN (remote) connection works but is very slow and StudioSchool Pro takes several minutes to open. What can we do to speed up the connection?
    A slow connection speed over a Wide Area Network (WAN) - for example, between one campus and another - is usually a result of insufficient upload speed on the broadband connection, especially at the location where the server is based. Most cable and DSL broadband connections give good download speeds, since this is the bulk of what people do with internet connections, but they have relatively slow upload speeds. For example, a DSL or cable connection may provide download speeds of 1.5Mbs to 8Mbs but the upload is limited to 256kps (or 0.25Mbs). You database server needs to upload information to the remote users and 256kps can result in a very slow data transfer rate. To increase you upload speed, contact your broadband provider and see what options are available. You may need to consider switching providers to get sufficient upload speed. To test your download and upload speeds, try one of these Internet speed tests: SpeedTest.net (it will automatically test your download speed, click the Upload field to test your upload speed) or BroadbandReports.com.

  • I'm getting a Network Error: "File Maker can not host a file because of a network error. Files marked as Multiuser will not be available over the network."
    This error occurs when you have a single-user license and FileMaker Pro's networking is turned on. Since the single-user prevents you from sharing or hosting StudioSchool Pro, FileMaker Pro generates this error on startup. You can simply click "OK" and StudioSchool Pro will open normally, but it can be annoying. To stop the error message from occuring each time you start StudioSchool Pro, launch FileMaker Pro directly - Mac: Applications -> FileMaker Pro 6 or Win: Program Files -> FileMaker -> FileMaker Pro 6. Go to Preferences -> Application (Mac: under the FileMaker Pro menu, Win: under the Edit menu), and set the Network Protocol to "None".

  • How do we prevent Outlook from giving a warning dialog for every email?
    This is related to a security update that was part of Windows XP Service Pack 2 and there is no direct way to shut it off within Windows. However, there is a small utility called ClickYes by Context Magic which appears to solve the issue. A free version is available along with a paid version with additional features. Pricing, a feature comparison chart and download links are at the end of the page.

  • FileMaker says that a file needs to be "Recovered". What should we do?
    The best thing to do is to replace the damaged files with a recent backup and re-enter any lost data. To use FileMaker Pro's "Recover" command to recover a damaged or corrupted file, see our detailed step-by-step Recover guide.

  • "DialogMagic Plugin could not be enabled" error message on a Macintosh OS X based computer.
    There is a bug with the DialogMagic 6.02 plugin such that it will not load correctly unless "US" is selected as an input source in the International System Preference pane. It does not have to be the only source but it does have to be checked. To fix this problem, go to Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> International -> Input Method. Scroll down the list to find "US" and check it. Quit FileMaker Pro and restart. DialogMagic should now load properly.

  • How do I report a bug or request support?
    Please let us know any problems you encounter with StudioSchool Pro. We want your experience of using the program to be pleasant and trouble-free. Please report the problem HERE, giving as much detail as possible.
 
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