Troubleshooting login problems with Google and Microsoft ("OAuth")
With the release of FileMaker 16, our users are able to log into their solutions through their Google or Microsoft accounts. There are a number of advantages to this. It can be very easy (often just a single click of a button gets you into the database) but also very secure (because Google and Microsoft provide two-factor authentication that protects your accounts). Once you become familiar with it, it's great. But you might encounter a hiccup, especially when you get started. This article covers the hiccups.
In what follows I'm going to make things simpler by assuming you are logging in with a Google account. If you're actually using Microsoft, just substitute the word "Microsoft" where I say "Google" below.
How the process works
Getting into a solution using FileMaker's built-in authentication is like using a key to get into your office. Using Google or Microsoft is like asking the security guard who has known you for years to let you into your office, except that in this case, the security guard (that, is Google or Microsoft) is standing right by the door 24/7 with the keys in his hand and can open the door for you faster than you can open it yourself.
The short video immediately below shows you how easy it is. Scroll past the video to see the troubleshooting tips, for when it doesn't go this smoothly.
Know your authentication method!
When you land on the login page for your solution, the solution does not know who you are or how you should log in, so you're going to see all the login options available. For Rucksack users as of June 2017, there are three options: old-fashioned FileMaker login with account and password; or authentication using either Google or Microsoft. The options are all presented but only one of them will work for you. You need to know which one to use!
More info below the screenshot....
Tip: Open your Google account first
If you aren't already logged into Google, you'll have to login to be authenticated. If you're already logged in, then clicking the "Google" button should get you right into the solution.
If you aren't already logged into your Google account...
If you aren't already logged into your Google account, you might run into one or the other or both of two little challenges.
First, if you use a password manager like 1Password or LastPass (and we strongly urge you to do so!), and if you haven't recently authenticated with your password manager, you might be asked to do so. The password manager isn't getting you into the database solution: it's helping you get into your Google account.
And after you log into your Google account, if you haven't done this recently, you might have to wait for a code to be sent to your cell phone. This will only occur if you have two-factor authentication enabled in your account -- but we strongly urge you to enable two-factor authentication! It's a tiny extra hassle usually once a month, in return for a massive improvement in the security of your accounts.
What if you have more than one Google account?
Many of our clients use Google for their business, and they also have a personal Google account. I do this myself.
If your browser is aware of both your Google accounts, when you click the "Google" button to get into the database, you'll simply be asked to pick which account to use. For most of our clients, the right answer is going to be the business Google account. If you don't have any open windows for that account but you have not actually logged out of it, you may be required to log into Google first.
A confusing problem can occur if you actually logged out of the Google account that you need, but you have another Google account open. Say you logged out of your business account -- the one you use to get into the database -- but you left your personal Gmail account open. When you actually log out of an account, the browser "forgets" about it. So when you try to authenticate using Google, the browser will find the one account it's aware of (your personal account), try to use that to authenticate you into your database, and the authentication will fail because that's the wrong account!
See tip above: You'll save yourself a little grief by opening your Google account first.
Google authentication creates lots of empty tabs in my browser!
If you're accessing the solution using FileMaker Pro, when you ask to login via Google, FileMaker Pro will switch you over to your web browser and open a new page where the authentication occurs. When the browser sends you back to FileMaker Pro, that browser window will not be closed automatically. This is annoying but otherwise benign. You can close those windows. This doesn't seem to happen if you're accessing the solution in your web browser in the first place.
Remember, the security of the solution now depends on your Google (or Microsoft) account!
Once you're using Google (or Microsoft) to get into your database solution, the security of the data in the solution is really your responsibility. We want to urge you as strongly as we can to have a long, strong and unique password for your Google and/or Microsoft account, and to enable two-factor authentication.
And in order to preserve your sanity, it is almost essential to use a good password manager to protect your passwords. We recommend 1Password, but LastPass is also very good, and there are others.
Contact us if you have any questions about this article!