Move your FileMaker Go Files to 14

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FileMaker Go 14 is here!

The long wait is over and FileMaker Inc. has released the new FileMaker 14 Platform.  We’re all excited about the new features in the desktop version, of course, but you will also want to try the new features of FileMaker Go.  If you have databases in FileMaker Go 13 on your iOS device, you will want to move them over to the latest and greatest version, FileMaker 14.  Here we will walk through the steps needed to move your databases to FileMaker Go 14.   Continue reading ‘Move your FileMaker Go Files to 14′

Themes and Styles

There has been a lot of talk about using Themes and Styles.  The future of FileMaker seems to depend on Themes, and they aren’t going away anytime soon.
I’ve had a hard time so far measuring savings in terms of development time – managing Themes and Styles effectively can entail a fair amount of work.  Just as we have to manage the Relationship Graph, however, and use naming conventions for field names, we need come up with rules to apply when managing our Themes.  Here are my thoughts on the matter:
The Themes that ship with FileMaker should be thought of as ‘starter solutions’. They’re just a bare outline of what is possible, and need to be expanded and customized for each solution that you build.  To understand what I mean, think about how Starter solutions in FileMaker are currently used.  When you open one of the Starter solutions, there are a number of layouts and scripts.  When you actually start customizing one of these solutions, you will end up creating many new layouts, and scripts.
Treat the built in Themes and Styles the same way.  Once you start building your solution, you will be adding or customizing Themes and changing the Styles that you are using.  A fully matured solution might have a hundred or so layouts, and a couple hundred scripts.  In the same way, a mature solution will have couple of custom Themes, and a large number of Styles in each one.
So we’ve established that a robust Theme may have dozens of Styles.  What is this supposed to achieve? This may help you to create more consistent layouts.  It will also improve the performance for at least the WebDirect solutions.  But this extra layer of complexity should also make your solutions easier to manage.  You don’t want the Themes to be a burden on the developer.
I have been a little slow in adopting Themes because of this last point.  Especially in a solution that isn’t using WebDirect, The Themes should help me to be more productive, but it shouldn’t get in the way of my development.  I am already busy – I don’t want to simply create Themes for their own sake.  One thing that has stood in my way to begin implementing Themes is a good naming convention. I am scared of creating useless Styles that won’t get used and also making my solutions too complicated to maintain.  If you open the starter solution, there is no help there.  The names of the Styles are not very descriptive.
Default_Styles
The Themes, at least, are slightly better.  Since there is a preview window so you can see what the Themes look like before you choose one.
What we are looking for is a way to name the Styles and Themes to make them more useful.  This is especially important for Styles.  The pitfall I am trying to avoid is creating Styles that are not used, or creating redundant Styles.  This is a similar situation I have often encountered when inheriting a solution with a messy relationship graph.  Often a messy relationship graph will make development more difficult.  Developers will waste time looking for relationships, also creating duplicate relationships when you don’t realize the relationship already exists.  Part of the solution for this type of situation is having a good naming scheme.  Here at IT Solutions as at many shops, we use the anchor bouy method.  Using this method you can always tell what a table occurrence is used for and what it is connected to.
How can we apply the same principles to the modern Themes in FileMaker?  It has long been acknowledged in academic circles that the name of a thing is very important; in many respects it defines what the thing is.  Therefore how we name the Styles most be important.  Just like naming relationships, scripts, and even layouts, we have to have a pattern for naming Styles.  My basic principle when naming these other things in FileMaker is that you should be able to tell what it does just from the name.  A script named ‘Print(what)’ has a pretty obvious function.  What is the function of ‘New Script’? In a similar fashion you probably know how you would use the relationship ‘order_LineItem_ITEM’.
A good name for a Style should let you know exactly what it will look like before you even select it.  Since a Style is about defining the format of an object, lets take a look at the formatting bar in Layout mode;
Formatting_Bar
In the formatting bar is (left to right) the Font, Size, Color, Style, Alignment.  Staring right in my face, there are our Style names!  Using this as the template, you will always know just what something will look like before you even select it.  This follows my basic tenet of script naming and relationship naming.  The name of the thing describes the thing.  You can also use tags at the end to define outlines etc.  When you do this use the same pattern as defining relationships.  If a relationship uses a special sort, you might name it ‘order_LineItem_ITEM_creationAscending’.  Take a look at this Theme definition, and you can visualize each Style in your minds eye even before you use it.
Take a look at these Styles, and you can just guess what they are for.
 Text_Styles
Each Style is clearly identified and the developer knows exactly what the Style is going to look like.  My naming convention includes a prefix for the Font and Size, followed by a section describing the Color, Style (bold, Italic etc) and justification.  If the color is black (or close to it) then I don’t include it.  Likewise, if the justification is left it is dropped.  If there is a background color, that goes at the end.
This technique can also be used for other types of objects, like buttons, popovers etc.  Keeping in mind most things start with the Style of the text, and then other factors.  Here are some button Styles:
ButtonStyles
Each Style starts with the definition of the text of the button, followed by any other defining characteristics of the button, like the fill color, and the corners.  I typically am not a fan of abbreviation; however, since you can’t resize the inspector, I typically condense the rounding at the end of the name, but the exemption is for rounding.  Instead of Left Rounded or Rounded, I use ‘LRnd’, and ‘Rnd’ to save space.  Also note, that you can incorporate images into your Button and Popover Styles, the buttons at the end are all images.  More on that next time.
Using the design principles from scripts brings together some important FileMaker ideas.  I like that the design lends itself to open and easy to understand databases.  Coming up with a naming convention that makes Styles more useful also makes it easier for multiple people to work on your databases at the same time.

Please join us November 18: ExecuteSQL – From Basics to Advanced Tips & Tricks

Please join us Tuesday November 18th! Food is provided.

ExecuteSQL – From Basics to Advanced Tips & Tricks

Presenter: Kevin Ayers, Drexel University College of Engineering

The introduction of the ExecuteSQL function in FileMaker Pro 12 created a whole new approach to gathering and reporting data in FileMaker. Join us on Tuesday, November 18 for a top to bottom look at what this feature can do and how to do it. We will cover everything from SQL 101 to advanced tips and tricks that you can use to get the data that you want without having add relationships.

About the Presenter

Kevin began his obsession with databases at the age of six, helping his father enter invoices into the computer because “it was fun”. In 2003, he began work as the in-house FileMaker developer for Drexel University’s College of Engineering, and since then has become the database manager for the College of Engineering as well as serving as an advisor to Drexel’s centralized IT on the university wide enterprise systems. He is a FileMaker 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 Certified developer, and has presented at his local user group, PhillyFileMaker, PauseOnError, and the 2014 FileMaker Developer’s Conference.

About the Philadelphia FileMaker User Group

The Philadelphia FileMaker User Group was founded in 2004 as an initiative by FileMaker Business Alliance Platinum member IT Solutions Consulting. The group’s goal is to provide an open forum for FileMaker developers and those interested in FileMaker to meet, brainstorm and network.

We hold meetings the 4th Tuesday of every month at 6PM, in the office of IT Solutions Consulting, Inc., at 414 Commerce Drive, Suite 150, Fort Washington PA.

Meetings are open to all, regardless of background and there’s no charge to attend.

Mailing List

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

The Philadelphia FileMaker User Group is sponsored by:

IT Solutions Consulting, Inc.

Employee ownership – fueling our innovation, strengthening your business.

http://www.itsolutions-inc.com/

Save a Link

A great new feature that was introduced in FM12 is the ability to create a link to a database and run a script right from that link.  I used this feature in a warehouse application I am maintaining for a large company in our area.

In this scenario, users create work orders to ship products out to customers.  Occasionally the users need to create a ‘rush job’.  A rush job requires special attention to a given work order so that it can be processed faster than the typical one-week turnaround time.  In the case of a rush job, we want the supervisor to know about and approve the work order.  So we’ve set up the system so that an automated email goes out to the supervisor with this pertinent information.

The email includes a link to approve the work order.  When the supervisor clicks on the link it opens the database and takes her/him to that particular work order.  There the supervisor can click a button to approve the rush job.  If they don’t want to approve the work order, they reply directly to the person placing the order.

WorkFlow-2

This all worked fine during development.  When we went to pre-production testing, we asked users to create orders in the test system.  The emails arrived in the supervisor’s inbox without any incidents.  This is when we noticed a problem. In Outlook the rush order link just appeared as regular text, not hyperlinks!

savelink2_edited

It turns out that Outlook (native and web clients) doesn’t recognize non http-type hyperlinks.  In order to solve this issue I needed to come up with a way to convert the fmp:// URL into something that Outlook could recognize, namely an HTTP:// URL.  I used a ‘redirect’ to do this.

Redirect is a way to call a particular URL which then forwards the user to a different URL.  Think of this function like call-forwarding.  Probably one of the most common uses for redirect is seen in Twitter. Twitter posts have a 140 character limit restricting the use of long URLs.  Using a redirect allows you to convert a very long URL to a very short URL.  The final thing to realize is that it doesn’t matter what type of URL you are redirecting TO, the new shorten URL is always URL.

TinyURL is a popular company that offers URL redirect.  They have a very simple Application Programming Interface (API) to convert URL’s programatically.

It has this structure;

tinyurl.com/api-create.php?url=SOURCE_URL

where the ‘SOURCE_URL’ is whatever URL you are trying to shorten.  When you call this it returns the shortened URL.

To give it a try, paste the following into a new browser window:

tinyurl.com/api-create.php?url=http://www.Google.com

The response is a tinyURL pointing to google’s home page.  Copy that URL and paste it into the address bar of your web browser. Or if you don’t want to go through the trouble, here is the URL that you would get:

http://tinyurl.com/5xrwz

Since the result is returned from a URL, we can use the FileMaker function ‘Insert from URL’ to get the shortened URL.  Remember when using this script step, you need to actually insert the result into a field.  So in my solution file, I created a field to hold the shortened URL.  Next, in the script that creates the email, I created the URL in a variable, then passed that URL to the TinyURL API.  The result goes into the new field which then gets pulled into the email body.

Edit_Script__SendOutlookLink___FMServer_Sample_

So now users can use which ever mail program they want, and as long as the application supports hyperlinks, they will be able to open the link.  This method also has the benefit of hiding all the sensitive will always be very short.

 Link_-_Outlook_Web_Access_Light

This will make your users very happy and make you look very smart.

 

FMHED – the FileMaker User Group for Higher Education

PFUG members Kevin Ayers and Jodi McClees – both FileMaker developers in higher education – started talking last spring about a new User Group focused specifically on FileMaker for developers and users in colleges and university.

At FileMaker DevCon 2014 FileMaker Inc gave space during the annual Higher Ed session for Kevin to discuss the group and propose it to folks.

The group formally kicked off this fall with an online meeting held October 15th.  The recorded webinar and meeting recap is here.

The format largely consists of periodic online meetings but they also plan face to face meetings.

If you’re in Higher Ed anywhere in the US or elsewhere you’ll find this group worth joining – go here.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.18.23 AM

Please join us October 28th: Mike Ahern – Dynamic Reporting

philly filemaker_logo_hor

The Philly FileMaker User Group
October 28th
6 PM – 8 PM
The Apple Store, King of Prussia
160 N Gulph Rd, King Of Prussia, PA (map)

For our next Philly FileMaker User Group meeting, please join us October 28th at the Apple Store in King of Prussia. Food will be provided.

RSVP HERE

Dynamic Reporting

Mike Ahern, IT Solutions Consulting, Inc

In this presentation, we will go over a reporting tool that uses dynamic fields and sorts to empower the end user to generate many reports using very few layouts.

Normally, we build reports that use one layout for each type of report we want to see. This results in several layouts that are all very similar, differing mostly on the fields being sorted on, or the order of the fields being sorted on, with different color or font choices to determine most to least important pieces of data.

We will demonstrate a method we developed for a report wizard that allows the end user to have multiple choices for searching and a dynamically selectable sorting tool to allow them to sort that data in different ways, while still maintaining that most to least criteria of font or color choices.

About the Presenter

Mike Ahern is a Filemaker Developer for IT Solutions. He has been using and developing Filemaker since Filemaker 4, primarily as an in-house developer in the graphics arts industry, but also with a brief stint as a Full time developer in the Medical Coding Profession. He is a FileMaker 13 Certified Developer. He has also spent the better part of the past 20 years as Macintosh systems support and systems admin both as field service and then in house before becoming a full-time developer in 2013.

About the Philly FileMaker User Group

The Philly FileMaker User Group was founded in 2004 as an initiative by FileMaker Business Alliance Platinum member IT Solutions Consulting. The group’s goal is to provide an open forum for FileMaker developers and those interested in FileMaker to meet, brainstorm and network.

We hold meetings the 4th Tuesday of every month at 6PM, in the office of IT Solutions Consulting, Inc., at 414 Commerce Drive, Suite 150, Fort Washington PA.

Meetings are open to all, regardless of background and there’s no charge to attend.

Meetup
Blog
Twitter

The Philadelphia FileMaker User Group is sponsored by:

600_322485152

IT Solutions Consulting, Inc.
Employee ownership – fueling our innovation, strengthening your business.

http://www.itsolutions-inc.com/

Ask a panel of design experts!

If you’re on TechNet you may or may not have been following this thread – if not, here’s the deal.

The folks organizing the 2014 FileMaker DevCon have assembled a design panel discussion.  The goal of this panel is to provide developers with some guidance about designing great solutions in FileMaker, and answer any questions people have about how to do this.

They’re taking feedback on what kinds of questions should be explored on the panel, so now’s the time to give them input!

The panelists are:

 

Heather Winkle

Andrew Paulsen

Don Levan

Bob Shockey

Go here to get involved: https://fmdev.filemaker.com/docs/DOC-3857

 

– Colin

Where is the Remote ?!? Part 1, Referencing a Remote Container

Very Cool Remote Control

Remote containers are a great new feature in FileMaker.  It lets you keep the size of your databases smaller.  I have one database that went from over 6GB to just 500MB when I moved the containers from internal to remote.  It made the backups faster and saved a lot of space on their backups!  In this first installment of a short series about containers, we will review how to reference a remote container. Continue reading ‘Where is the Remote ?!? Part 1, Referencing a Remote Container’

Please join us: Guided User Interaction (D. Todd Weller, Presenter)

Please join us:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

6:00 PM

IT Solutions Consulting, Inc.
414 Commerce Drive
Suite 150
Fort Washington PA 19034

Note: Pizza as always will be provided after the presentation, around 7:15 PM

Guided User Interaction

Presenter: D. Todd Weller

In any database solution, the preservation of data integrity is the primary goal of every developer.  With the FileMaker platform, there are many “out of the box” features that provide the required data validation and verification.  This presentation takes the next step as we will examine a number of techniques that allow developers to guide the user through the solution in the layout layer and help preserve data integrity by showing the user only the needed fields for the task at hand.  There are a number of layout objects and simple scripts that give developers a way to present choices to ensure that the correct business processes are followed for the given solution.  With the December 2013 release of FileMaker 13, the presentation with spotlight a few of the new features of FileMaker 13 that can be used when guiding the user through a solution.

Todd Weller is the Senior Data Systems Architect with Cross IT Services and Solutions, LLC.  He has been using and developing FileMaker databases for over 12 years for both in-house and outside client solutions, starting with FileMaker 6, and is a FileMaker 12 Certified Developer.  He holds an electrical engineering degree from Grove City College.  Prior to his FileMaker experience, he worked in industry for an electrical engineering firm that specialized in systems integration as a PLC and Drive System programmer and troubleshooter.”

About the Philadelphia FileMaker User Group

The Philadelphia FileMaker User Group was founded in 2004 as an initiative by FileMaker Business Alliance Platinum member IT Solutions Consulting.  The group’s goal is to provide an open forum for FileMaker developers and those interested in FileMaker to meet, brainstorm and network.

We hold meetings the 4th Thursday of every month at 6PM, in the office of IT Solutions Consulting, Inc., at 414 Commerce Drive, Suite 150, Fort Washington PA.

Meetings are open to all, regardless of background and there’s no charge to attend.

Mailing List

Blog

Twitter

FMPug Chapter

The Philadelphia FileMaker User Group is sponsored by:

 

IT Solutions Consulting, Inc.

Employee ownership – fueling our innovation, strengthening your business.

http://www.itsolutions-inc.com/

Please join us March 27th: Client Feedback Modules, and Gianine Campbell, FileMaker BAM

Please join us March 27th at the Apple Store King of Prussia at 6 PM!

RSVP HERE

FileMaker: Client Feedback Modules  
and
FileMaker BAM Gianine Campbell

Client Feedback Modules

Jerry Salem

This month we will walk through the process of creating a Client Feedback Module for your FileMaker databases.

Accidents happen.

People sometimes use your solution in ways you haven’t imagined.  When something goes wrong, it’s important to document the event right away, before the user forgets the details of the event.

In this presentation Jerry will discuss the benefits of client feedback modules and demonstrate techniques for capturing user feedback “in the moment of insight”.

FileMaker BAM Gianine Campbell

Please join us in welcoming Gianine Campbell, the new FileMaker Business Account Manager for the greater NYC Metro region, including the Philadelphia territory.  Gianine will introduce herself and spend about 10 minutes talking through her role and the benefits of the FileMaker platform.

About Jerry Salem

Dr. Jerry Salem began his career in technology as a computer science major, eventually moving to the biological sciences where he earned his Ph.D in Biochemistry. During that time he published papers on malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS. He holds a U.S. patent and has spoken internationally on numerous topics.

As a researcher, Jerry learned computer networking, web design, and FileMaker. He has worked in various technology fields developing a number of solutions, including electronic medical records software and complex systems for many businesses and organizations.  Along the way he has mastered standard SQL tools and a variety of other technologies.

Since 2007, Jerry has worked at IT Solutions, a Platinum level member of the FileMaker Business Alliance. Among his accomplishments since joining ITS are certification in FileMaker versions 8 through 12, leadership as an educator in the FileMaker Training Series program, and frequent contributions to the Philly FileMaker User Group.

About Gianine Campbell

Gianine comes to FileMaker with 5+ years of successful Sales experience at Xerox Corporation and most recently at ADP Corporation. Gianine brings to FileMaker a strong and rounded sales background selling into and managing growth accounts. She is a graduate of Providence College and is a classically trained Soprano, and has performed with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops just this past Fall.

About the Philadelphia FileMaker User Group

The Philadelphia FileMaker User Group was founded in 2004 as an initiative by FileMaker Business Alliance Platinum member IT Solutions Consulting.  The group’s goal is to provide an open forum for FileMaker developers and those interested in FileMaker to meet, brainstorm and network.

We hold meetings the 4th Thursday of every month at 6PM, in the office of IT Solutions Consulting, Inc., at 414 Commerce Drive, Suite 150, Fort Washington PA.

Meetings are open to all, regardless of background and there’s no charge to attend.

Mailing List

Blog

Twitter

FMPug Chapter

The Philadelphia FileMaker User Group is sponsored by:

600_322485152

 

 

IT Solutions Consulting, Inc.

Employee ownership – fueling our innovation, strengthening your business.

http://www.itsolutions-inc.com/