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ISO FileMaker Magazine

ISO FileMaker Magazine is one of the web's original repositories of online educational content for learning how to develop within FileMaker Pro. It's the professionals resource for FileMaker Know-how!


Zoomable & Clickable SVG Navigation

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 05:28:59 -0700

Don't get me wrong, FileMaker has a lot of cool things it can do all on its own. In fact, they keep adding more and more useful tools which makes it easy to create great working software.

There are, however, those certain things that FileMaker just can't do on it's own. For example, you can't interact with images within container fields quite like you can certain web pages. Yet, right in front of us, we have the wonderfully powerful Web Viewer which exposes access to the power of JavaScript and all those wonderfully free libraries.

Enter the common scenario where an easy-to-understand image file directly represents a nicely complex data structure. We'd like to use the image to navigate the data and we can certainly add it directly to a layout and overlay buttons over it. But, hold your horses there señor gung-ho developer. What if your image is so complex that it would be absolutely tiny if you placed it on the layout at 100%.

Well, that's when we ring up our wonderful friend Mr. SVG. He'll take care of us. He's scalable you know! So, how about a zoomable and clickable SVG which directly represents how we'd like users to navigate the data? No problem!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

FileMaker Overview: Container Functions

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 05:00:00 -0800

When first learning about database development, and how to store large files such as media, archives and documents, I was introduced to the concept of a BLOB (Binary Large OBject).

At that time, I wasn't using FileMaker Pro as of yet but a database called FoxPro. The concept of FileMaker's Container fields, as places to store BLOBs, came so much easier than having to convert a file into another format which can be stored within a SQL data store - which is what you have to do with some other database systems.

In today's modern computing world you need to be familiar with how to encrypt things and how to transfer them between various services. This video will overview the Base64 encoding functions, the Crypt functions and all the other Container related functions. If you'd like to understand how and where the container functions will help you out with working with containers then you'll likely find what you need in this video.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

FileMaker Overview: Date & Time Functions

Tue, 27 Feb 2018 04:00:00 -0800

Knowing how FileMaker's Date and Time functions actually work is quite a big help when you're creating anything related to time based data.

When I first started learning FileMaker, I was pleased to see how easy it was to use the date and time functions. However, I didn't quite know how things worked underneath the hood. It wasn't until I tried creating my first calendar within FileMaker that I had to really get into the guts of what was going on.

Once I learned how the functions really worked, I was able to easily achieve the results desired. This video goes through the insides of how the date and time functions really work. This is what you really need to know in order to get the most out of FileMaker's date and time capabilities.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

FileMaker Overview: Number Functions

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 05:00:00 -0800

If you're the type of person who's into Math, then you probably know when you need to use Factorial() versus Exp() versus Div(). Inevitably, you're a better mathematician than I. My use of the Number functions extends to how useful they can be when you're creating your FileMaker user interface and solving workflow related problems.

When it comes to FileMaker's Number functions, there are number of tricks I've picked up over the years from those who are much smarter at the "math part" than I am. For the most part, the functions are there when you need them and are obviously useful when your required solution deals with math.

In this video, I go through the Number functions and talk about when and how I've used them. Which ones I've used the most and what you can do with them.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

FileMaker Overview: Text Formatting Functions

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:25:22 -0800

While placing fields and merge text onto a layout is a simple matter of adding the elements to the layout, the formatting you apply to onscreen data can only go so far. Sure, we can use Conditional Formatting in order to achieve all kinds of great looking layouts, but, what if there were a way to go beyond these straight-forward layout tools and leverage even more control.

What about dynamically displaying colored and formatted text without having to create calculated fields? Well, all of this, and more, can be accomplished when you take advantage of FileMaker's Text Formatting functions.

This will video will walk you through what you need to know about the Text Formatting functions and how they can be used to give your layouts a much more impactful presence.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

FileMaker Overview: Text Functions

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 11:13:23 -0800

When you're learning a new skill or programming language, you don't always know what you might need to know. Such was the case when I received an email asking me to go through the various groups of FileMaker functions. I thought to myself, "In most of my videos, I showcase the use of certain functions, but, I've never really gone through each function one by one."

So, in this video, I do exactly that. I relay my experience and exposure to each of the various FileMaker functions. Starting with the Text group, I walk through each of the functions, or function types, and talk about their use and what I consider their frequency of use to be in daily FileMaker development.

Granted, each solution built in FileMaker is always different and where some solutions may need more math and numbers, others may just store and manipulate data, it's a great thing to know about all the possible functions you can use. And, that's exactly what this video is about!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Generating SVG Barcodes

Thu, 25 Jan 2018 07:00:00 -0800

While barcodes have been around for decades, and we all know how fundamental they are to everyday life, it doesn't mean your last implementation is still the best way to integrate them. Technology is always changing and it's moving forward while new technologies replace older ones. A barcode which used to be in JPEG format can now be in the scalable SVG format.

In this video, I walk through the use of a JavaScript library which allows for the easy creation of SVG barcodes. This works without a specific font and allows for a scalable file which can be integrated into a PDF or any other type of output. Need barcode support on FileMaker Go on iOS? Need to generate barcodes client side on either Mac or Windows?

If you're building a solution which needs to use barcodes, and you're looking for the least expensive option, then you can't get much better than a commercially free JavaScript library. All it takes is a little bit of know-how and you're creating barcodes in very little time!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

JavaScripting PDFs

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 12:08:25 -0800

FileMaker Pro has a wonderful PDF generator. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of using FileMaker for the purpose of output is that you can make any layout look exactly how you'd like and with a few script steps, you've got PDF output which will fit 95% of the situations you'll come across.

There are, however, certain situations where knowing how to generate a PDF using JavaScript, from within a Web Viewer, will give you the exact results you're looking for.

There are a number of advantages with this approach. First, it can be SUPER fast when generating the PDF and second, you can selectively decide what you want to output from within the whole of your HTML. So, if you're using HTML to present a lot of information, but only want a PDF of a portion of that HTML, then you can certainly accomplish that with this technique.

Even if you don't need the exact functionality of HTML -> PDF output there's a lot to learn from this video if you've never used JavaScript in order to call a FileMaker script and pass in some data.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Pivoting data

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 13:11:11 -0800

While FileMaker's own Layout Mode provides excellent tools for formatting data for display and output, it isn't always the most convenient for certain types of output. A prime example is a pivot table. Or, the output of data which is normally columnar formatted into a horizontal format.

When attempting to do this with native FileMaker functionality, it quickly becomes a bit of a hassle, typically including more relationships than should be otherwise necessary.

There are solutions which can make use of repeating horizontal fields, but these typically have a hard limit and the width of the data does not dictate the largest column width. If you work creatively with HTML/CSS and the other available features within FileMaker, you can realize a more flexible solution for horizontal data display and output!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Card Sidebar Navigation

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 12:57:16 -0800

FileMaker 16's new Card Windows have opened the flood gates for all kinds of new methods for presenting information. Not least of which are your common dialogs and wizards. But, what about using them for navigation? Why not?

In fact, you'll find so many benefits from using a Card Window, for the purpose of navigation, you may think it makes little sense to use anything else. Especially, when you want the navigation to both hide and reveal as needed.

In this video, we walk through a wonderful technique of using a Card Window for the purpose of sidebar navigation. Not only does it blend in well with the user interface but it retains which menus were collapsed and which were expanded. It works in both Form view and List view. Overall, it's one of the best methods you can choose for solution navigation if you're using FileMaker 16 or later.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Changing User Privilege Sets

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 17:11:35 -0800

Managing user accounts within FileMaker is pretty easy and straight forward. This, however, is an aspect of access control which only applies to what a user can do within the world of FileMaker's interface.

When it comes to your own solution's user interface, it doesn't exist until you create it. And, of course, FileMaker knows nothing about what you create. It's just a tool. This means it's up to you to add your own security controls.

In order to do this, you need to take advantage of all of FileMaker's security controls. Once you understand how to use these controls, you can create an access system which has various levels of access and allows some users to advance or reduce the access of other users. If you have a database which needs to have managers, employees and various levels of access then you need to watch this video.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Parsing XML into JSON

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:28:17 -0800

In the world of serialized data, there's only been a few key technologies and XML was certainly the forerunner. It's been around since the mid 90's and was originally added into FileMaker around version 5 - if memory serves. The implementation of XML/XSLT/XPATH wasn't fully complete with compatible functions and it only works as an import and export feature via the use of an XSLT style sheet.

Learning XSLT and XPATH weren't the easiest things to do and as computing moved forward, so did other technologies. Now, with JSON and JavaScript taking the programming world by storm, we have a new method of serialization and this one is baked into FileMaker.

So, these days, you have the choice of learning xpath and using a plug-in in order to extract data out of XML or you can just convert it into a format such as JSON for simply pulling the data out using FileMaker 16's new JSON functions. With this technique file, and video, you'll be well on your way to extracting data out of XML files if you need to do so.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

iOS Native Looking Tab Panels

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 05:00:00 -0800

Hacking away at FileMaker objects seems to be the theme for a few of my most recent videos. In this video, I'm back at it and hacking again on Tab Panels. These ever so useful layout objects allow you to show a ton of information on screen by allowing users to reveal what's important to them when they want to see it.

Through understanding how individual layout objects are composed, we can take a crack at customizing them in ways in which are not current possible - at least not through FileMaker's inspector palette.

And so, a handy little tool is born for performing a simple little task. Making iOS-looking native FileMaker tab panels.

If you're creating any type of solution for iOS and using either FileMaker Go or the iOS SDK for FileMaker, then this video will help you make your FileMaker user interface that much sweeter!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Card Window Progress Bars

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 16:17:57 -0700

One of the most wonderful things about FileMaker 16's release were Card Windows. While we've been able to create new windows for quite some time, the number of controls afforded those windows was limited. With card windows we can now present those windows within the main window. This provides for any other context than the current context.

You can show related records or completely unrelated records. The great thing about the card window is, like all windows, it can use any of the 3 possible views FileMaker provides. Need a list? Use List View. Need a form? Use Form View.

And, once the window is shown, it can present any number of records. In particular, it can show a related set of data which needs to be processed. The only thing missing is a progress bar to indicate the status of the processing of said records.

No problem, we'll just build the feature directly into our card window. That's what this video is all about. Using a card window in order to process a related set of records.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Switching from serial keys to UUID keys

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 17:03:17 -0700

While creating videos on my YouTube channel for my beginner/intermediate series of videos, a viewer asked if I would create a video about migrating from using Serial values as primary/foreign keys to using UUID key values.

The process is actually quite simple, but not so obvious when you start thinking about all the scripting you might have to do for all the various tables and connections within your solution. The benefits of switching to a UUID key based system is that you no longer have worry about duplicates with disconnected files and you also gain the piece of mind that you don't have to worry about updating the serial value every time you perform an export/import process for updating a database which is not updated directly within production.

So, in this video, I show the easiest method for moving from using serial key values to using the more modern UUID values. If you have an older FileMaker system and you'd like to update it to UUID keys, then this video should have all the info you need.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Adding a logo to your theme

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 23:27:26 -0700

When FileMaker, Inc. released the new theming system for FileMaker Pro a while back, they made one of the best decisions possible for a development platform. They chose to go with an industry standard instead of rolling their own solution.

The standard they chose to use was CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). While their implementation was specific to the platform, and the whole "cascading" part didn't really apply, the choice was a good one.

Today, the upside is the fact that it's the same language of the web. The same which is used to provide ultimate control over how everything looks on a given web page. Essentially, full power and control to the designer or developer. The downside, in FileMaker's case, is they can only expose certain aspects of the CSS as their internal development resources allow. They have to keep moving the product forward in other areas as well as the user interface.

So, knowing that CSS is behind the scenes, there are certain things we can do to modify the look and feel beyond what FileMaker's Inspector palette exposes. This video is about a certain insider trick which can make your use of a company logo infinitely easier when it comes time to make a simple change down the road. Check it out!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Custom Function Database 17 - Adding a Search Bar

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 18:29:51 -0700

Making it easy for users to search for content is what your job is all about. If you're relying on FileMaker's default Query By Form method of searching, then many users may not know how to use the full functionality of FileMaker's search.

This is where you, as the developer, get to control how users interact with the data. By taking advantage of both FileMaker's QuickFind and the normal Query By Form, you can implement really nice features like an easy-to-use search bar.

In this video, we walk through the process of adding just such a search bar into the Custom Function database. If you're interested in learn about how you can take full control over the searching process then this video will provide you with a lot of insight!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Button Bar Indicators

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:59:22 -0700

There are all kinds of methods in which you can provide visual feedback to users. You can use FileMaker's containers fields, calculation fields, and even normal text fields.

There is, however, a great way to provide the visual feedback you desire by using FileMaker's Button Bar object. You gain a lot of flexibility with this method because it's so easy to copy and paste once you've put it into your solution. By using multiple segments in the button bar, and some creative use of hiding and conditional formatting, you can achieve all kinds of cool visual indications of whatever you might want to showcase.

In this video, I walk through the process of adding some up/down arrows and show you how to take advantage of FileMaker's unique tool set in order to accomplish this useful technique.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Basic JavaScripting - Adding a color picker

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 16:28:25 -0700

If you've been learning and using FileMaker for any amount of time, then you'll likely know that FileMaker also has access to JavaScript. It does this through the Web Viewer object which can easily be added to any layout.

For some FileMaker developer's they may answer the question of "Why don't you know/learn Javascript?" with a response of it either being too hard or not being able to take the time to learn it. It' only when FileMaker can't do what what needs to be done when some developers start to look outside of FileMaker's core set of available tools.

The cool thing about JavaScript is that like many tools, it can do a variety of things better than FileMaker alone. I've never come across a single tool which can do it all the best way possible.

If you've never implemented any JavaScript within your FileMaker solution, then this video may be the best way to start that journey. The implementation of a JavaScript based color picker is so easy you'll be craving more and more JavaScript by the end of the video. Whether you need a color picker or the ability to draw content on top of an image file, JavaScript will offer a lot more extensibility than just sticking it out with FileMaker alone!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Inline Card Windows

Mon, 04 Sep 2017 15:43:15 -0700

FileMaker 16 introduced a new and very powerful feature. Its called Card Windows and they allow you to access a totally different context than what is currently being viewed.

If you're unfamiliar with what context is in FileMaker, then to put it plainly, it's the layout being viewed, its own associated table plus all related tables connected to that layout's table occurrence. It's what the current layout can "see" in terms of accessible data. Yep, that's a bit confusing if you're not super familiar with FileMaker. But, if you are, then congratulations, you should be able to see how powerful this new feature is.

The way FileMaker, Inc. has implemented Card Windows is a nice start. The Card Window is truly another window being drawn on the screen with the exception of being able to drag it around. It's a modal window which is typically presented within the parent of where it was created. In order to continue working in the user interface it must be dismissed. It's not quite like dynamic or context independent layout parts, but it's getting closer to the ultimate feature.

When you take the results you can get from a layout object's bounds ( its location and relative size ), using FileMaker's GetLayoutObjectAttribute function, you can put a few pieces together to make for a great windowing feature which allows you to draw a window wherever you want. This is enhanced by using the info supplied by a target layout object. It's a great feature for any solution where progressive disclosure is a desirable feature. Have too many elements and info on the screen? Use an Inline Card Window!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Local Development using FileMaker Server

Fri, 25 Aug 2017 13:41:47 -0700

Whether you're a hobbyist developer or a full-time professional, it's important to make sure your development environment is both stable and reliable. Unless you're in the process of learning a new environment, not that many developers are keen to spending a bunch of time re-configuring their development environment.

The worst feeling in the world, while developing, is one of instability. Having that looming fear that your application or file may crash at any time is not a happy place. It's like you're constantly looking over your shoulder waiting for the next FileMaker crash. For FileMaker development, the solution to this problem is to always develop using FileMaker Server.

When FileMaker Server is within your development environment it provides crash protection, automated backups and other learning benefits which you simply won't get if you only upload your FileMaker file to a host and simply work that way. If you're still developing locally with just a copy of FileMaker Pro Advanced then this video should be especially appealing.

Also, if you're a developer on-the-go and you can't be tied to a local network, and may not have WAN access, then running a local FileMaker Server is a great solution. One possible issue is that FileMaker Server has be structured for a production environment and not for a development. You can, however, with a few setup changes, make your local development machine use FileMaker Server in order to facilitate the ideal development environment.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Adding a startup splash screen

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 11:45:39 -0700

When it comes time to “professionalize” your FileMaker solution, this typically includes integrating a splash screen. Even if your solution is only used internally, that extra bit of branding solidifies that mental spot of recall when a user needs to communicate which database they’re using.

So what better way to say “You are here” than presenting a nice, attractive splash screen? In this video, I walk through the step-by-step process of adding a cool-looking splash screen to our ongoing project of the Custom Function database.

In the process of doing so, I explain a variety of other reasons as to why I choose the method showcased in the video. It’s more than just the pretty picture which shows on startup. It deals with startup speed and other helpful features such as increased security potential. If you’re going to put your best foot forward, then follow the method shown in this video!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Using Multi-key Relationships

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 13:49:00 -0700

Within FileMaker development, there are a variety of must-know features and methods for doing certain things. You’ll be hard pressed to find these critical bits of info within the provided help.

However, these are nuances which come with the environment and really only make sense once you start to integrate them into your user interfaces. One of these “hidden” features is known as Multi-key relationships.

Using multi-key relationships, you can present data within the user interface which is derived from a variety of tables. There’s really no limit on how much data you can show from however many tables you desire. The limitation is truly only your imagination about how the data should be presented.

While the implementation is super easy, the understanding behind how things work is what will move your FileMaker solutions to the next level.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

FileMaker "One Liners"

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 09:00:00 -0700

As you see and write more and more code within any development environment, you start to view code which simply looks clean and efficient as opposed to long and inefficient. In this video, we’re taking a look at some so called FileMaker “One Liners”. These are simple snippets of code which typically only take one line in order to do something pretty cool.

While the code doesn’t always take exactly one line, because FileMaker uses more than just actual code, it’s the super simple implementation which makes them so cool.

Take a look at this video to see five different examples of FileMaker One Liners and see how this know-how will help you with your own FileMaker development!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Custom Function Database 16 - Implementing Tags/Tagging

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 09:00:00 -0700

Our FileMaker Custom Function database is moving along quickly as we add more user-based features. The feature being added in this part of the series is a Tags/Tagging feature where it takes the concept of a “favorite” much further.

Rather than using a single field for tagging a record as a favorite, we’ll be using a join table and allowing the user to add as many different tags as desired. The implementation applies to “all users” of the database system, but could easily be modified to become a user centric tagging feature - such that each user could maintain their own set of tags and tagged records.

Understanding how to implement the full suite of options for interacting with tags is the key to making this feature so valuable for the user. This video will walk you through the pieces and parts of how to implement this useful functionality.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

FileMaker 16 - Encrypting/Decrypting data

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 07:00:00 -0700

FileMaker 16 added a variety of new features designed to support its new ability to interact with web services using JSON. One of those supporting features was the addition of more cryptographic functionality.

Previously, the only native feature available was an MD5 hash. At the time of it being added, it was already out of fashion as a security based feature, but it could be used to compare two things against each other.

By adding new encryption and decryption capabilities, we are now able to encrypt and decrypt data directly within the database itself. This means we can, if desired (and your security policies allow it), store things like credit cards and other sensitive information. While the functions themselves are pretty straight-forward, it’s always nice to know the ins-and-outs of how to implement a feature properly.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Custom Function Database 15 - Copy/pasting groups of functions

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 17:27:28 -0700

Moving forward with the Custom Function database project, we now have the opportunity to copy and paste our groups of custom functions. The trick to accomplishing this requires a modification to the singular copy/paste being used for a single custom function.

The database now needs to provide a list of functions, in the xml snippet format, to be copied to the clipboard. This is easily accomplished through the relationships and by modifying the original script.

If you’ve never had the problem where you needed to copy well structured data through a few relationships, then watching this video will give you some insight in the the various possible ways and the one way which may be the most simple when needing to copy that structured data to the clipboard.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Managing Favorite Hosts & Files

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:47:00 -0700

Over the years, FileMaker has added, enhanced and modified various areas of the development platform. One of the areas which has seen a big transition is the way favorites are managed. If you're a long-time developer of FileMaker solutions, then one of the more recent changes in FileMaker 16 may be a bit disconcerting.

The change was to how favorites are managed. In fact, they simply took out the menu option and sorta left you hanging. The "Manage favorites..." menu is no longer present within FileMaker 16. If you were used to heading to that menu item in order to reorder, add or remove favorites, then your access to the dialog was recently cut off.

It was replaced a while back, but isn't all that obvious if you've not used the new Launch Center's cute little "star" (favorite) icons. This now pretty much the only way to manage favorite files and hosts. Fortunately, once you get used to the new way of doing things, you can easily take back control over your favorite hosts and files.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Cool looking process indicators

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 21:24:00 -0700

Most everyone likes to know what's going on when something is happening. Being kept in the dark is something which causes possible anxiety and certainly a fair amount of impatience. So, it's always nice to provider your user with a little bit of status when there's some type of progress happening.

Fortunately, this is a very easy thing to solve when a lot of the work is already done for you. All you need to do is wire things up within a FileMaker web viewer.

Using the information within this video you can easily present your users with an indeterminate progress indicator. At least letting them know that something is happening rather than nothing.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Custom Function Database 14 - Supporting groups/collections

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 11:02:14 -0700

FileMaker Pro, beyond your normal join table, offers a unique method of storing collections, or groups, of items. You can do this with what is called a multi-key field. This isn’t to be confused with a compound-key, which is a primary key composed of multiple different values.

Using a multi-key field we can store a collection of custom functions within our Custom Function database. This makes it possible to start the process of collecting groups of functions together and then adding a feature so we can copy them as a group.

Of course, the trick to adding any complex functionality is to make it easy for the user while staying maintainable for us as the developers. This will be done within a standard FileMaker Popover layout object.

This video walks through the process and parts of adding a grouping or collections based feature. While we’re adding it within the context of custom functions, this is a feature you’ll find using over and over again no matter what the database is about.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Quick Tip: Rounded Button Bar Segments

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 08:56:03 -0700

There are all kinds of nice graphic tips and tricks within FileMaker and one of my most favorite is using the transparent line setting in order to create the rounded effect on multiple segment Button Bars.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Custom Function Database 13 - Parsing JSON

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 14:35:54 -0700

As with visiting any new country where they speak a different language, if you can’t speak it, then it’s pretty hard to communicate. The same thing applies to intercommunication between technical systems. If you don’t take the time to learn the format being used, then you obviously won’t get very far.

In this video, we take a look at processing JSON from GitHub’s API. It’s one of the last places we’re looking for FileMaker Custom functions. GitHub is a web site which hosts hundreds of thousands of code repositories. These code repositories represent many hundreds of thousands of coding hours. To not take advantage of any pre-existing resources seems a bit silly.

The trick to working with any cloud based resource is to simply learn what questions to ask and how to process the answers you get back. Of course, there’s always that critical piece of know-how which is all about processing the data in the first place. If you’ve never written a recursive FileMaker script, then you’ll certainly see some in action when dissecting the script in this version of our Custom Function database!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Top 5 Time Saving Tips

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 15:20:03 -0700

Who likes spending time doing things in FileMaker Pro when you can do things faster? How about no one. That’s why this video will help you save some time when you discover the various ways you can interact with layout objects and your data.

So, here’s 5 different tips which will save you some time while working in FileMaker Pro.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Custom Function Database - Part 12 - User feedback

Wed, 31 May 2017 16:11:49 -0700

Some buttons in your user interface are likely more than obvious in terms of what they do. But what about those times when they're not and it's just nice to let the user know what just happened? Using a combination of Slider panels and mutli-segment Button Bars you can provide any type of feedback you might like to show.

This video presents a method for showing the user some feedback about the results of clicking a button or any other user interface action taken.

Note to subscribers: If you're looking for the file, then you'll find it within the Part 11 download. The link is provided below.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.

Custom Function Database - Part 11 - RegEx Parsing

Wed, 31 May 2017 12:05:50 -0700

With FileMaker’s PatternCount(), Left(), Right() and Middle() functions you can certainly extract a lot of data. The functions, however, are severely limited when it comes to matching variable patterns of data.

That’s where, in the world of programming, Regular Expressions, or RegEx for short, is SUPER handy! It’s used in pretty much EVERY computing language and I don’t personally know a professional developer who can develop without it. It’s been available since the 1950’s and it’s a worthwhile tool to know for sure.

Recently, I personally reduced a complex FileMaker file from three tables and close to twenty dedicated scripts, all for parsing some data, down to one table and two scripts. Trust me, it was a crazy process where a full document of text was imported, line by line, into a FileMaker table, just so a loop could be used to walk across the data multiple times. Talk about extra network traffic just to process some data!

It was MUCH easier to simply use a RegEx pattern and directly extract the data desired and be done with it. Of course, the developer who preceded me obviously didn’t know RegEx and it’s why I’m providing this video for you. Learn it, use it and get the job done quicker when it’s the right tool for the job.

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FileMaker 16 - Uploading files to Dropbox

Thu, 25 May 2017 13:15:47 -0700

Integrating third party APIs can be a bit daunting when you’ve never worked with them before. Fortunately, the most difficult part of the process is simply taking the time to research the API and implement the features you’d like to have.

When you’re working within FileMaker, you’re often capturing content which may need to be pushed into another online location - such as Dropbox. If your FileMaker solution needs this, then adding FileMaker Dropbox integration is the way to go.

With FileMaker 16, you can now use the native cURL functionality in order to directly upload a file into a designated Dropbox account. Once you’ve made the connection with Dropbox, you can pretty much do anything you’d like to your dropbox account.

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Floating Card Windows

Fri, 19 May 2017 19:49:03 -0700

This video will teach you all about using the new FileMaker 16 Card Window and show you how to take advantage of the fact that you can have a totally different position for the card window outside of the parent which where it belongs.

With a bit of creative FileMaker scripting you can create some really nice features for your FileMaker database.

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Custom Function Database - Part 10 - Saving User State

Fri, 19 May 2017 10:20:46 -0700

While it would be wonderful if FileMaker Pro had built-in functionality for all of the features we can possibly think up, it’s not too practical. Besides, what would be left for us to develop?

So, what about saving user state? Do you think you would enjoy leaving your desk for a few moments and coming back to a completely rearranged environment? I doubt it, and that’s almost exactly what FileMaker does when working within a hosted file.

The most common approach to solving this problem is to simply provide a “directory like” structure. Like walking into a mall and heading to the directory map in order to find out where you can possibly go. Call it what you like, a dashboard, main navigation, whatever. You’re simply reseting the user each time they leave and come back into the software.

Well, if you’d like to take another approach, then all you need to do is save the user’s last know state. What you save and how you return the user to their last known state is in your full control. It’s not that hard to do and this video will give you all the details you need to know.

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FileMaker 16 Released

Tue, 09 May 2017 07:00:00 -0700

On May 9th 2017 FileMaker Inc. released FileMaker version 16. This version included a big number of major features designed to support FileMaker's ability to communicate with the rest of the Internet. As a globally connected software application, FileMaker has clearly stated that it's a highly viable platform for rapid application deployment.

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Touring FileMaker's Inspector Palette - Part 2

Wed, 03 May 2017 10:23:14 -0700

The Inspector palette is your primary tool for designing your layouts. Of course, being familiar with all its various options and settings is what makes it possible for the creation of great looking layouts.

This video focuses on going through the second and third tabs of the Inspector and looking at the impacts of all the various settings which control styles and themes.

While the settings themselves may seem all to obvious in terms of what they do, it’s the combination of using those settings which makes the difference.

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Touring FileMaker's Inspector Palette

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 16:32:13 -0700

If you’re new to FileMaker, or even an old hat at FileMaker development, then it’s always nice to understand how to use your own tools. In this video, I start the process of walking through the standard Inspector palette.

By taking a bit of time to understand each of the unique areas of the Inspector palette, you may gain a tip or trick in terms of what you can do with this critical part of FileMaker development. Spend a few minutes to watch this video about the first of the four sections of FileMaker’s Inspector palette.

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Copy & Paste Portal Rows

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 09:39:45 -0700

There’s an addictive quality to solving problems within FileMaker. Especially, when you wire things up to the user interface. Click the button, and what would have taken many times longer, is shortened into a few milliseconds of time.

It quite literally feels like you’re a magician - at least to this developer. So, when developing a solution the other day, and needing to copy the contents of one portal over to another, I quickly came up with a solution and put it into place.

Within about a half an hour, things were pretty close to how I’d like them to work. The result of that effort is now ready for you to learn from - and add yet one more tool to your arsenal. So, if you’ve ever had the need to duplicate a related set of data then give this video a try.

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Custom Function Database - Part 9

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 10:30:31 -0700

Heading back into our series on the Custom Function database, there’s always an opportunity to explore yet another area of using FileMaker to create solid solutions. This video focuses on the fact that we’re storing canonical data which we want to leverage, yet not alter.

When you store data for any type of templating system or data which acts as the basis for further variations you have a number of choices in terms of how users interact with that data. For this solution we want the user to be able to easily modify the data but not the original data. Instead, giving the user their own copy allows them to keep the original and have their own custom modifications as well.

Watch this video if you’d like to learn more about using FileMaker’s validation options in order to facilitate controlled data duplication. That’s exactly what we’ve done in part 9 of the Custom Function database.

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Checkmarking Sub-ranges in List Views

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:54:17 -0700

One of the most enjoyable things about working in FileMaker, or any development environment where looping is supported, is the pure joy of automation.

Even thinking about checking off any more than a few records at a time brings me to a mental state of counting the number of seconds it takes for the single action itself, then multiplying times the number of objects I need to affect.

So the question arrives. “How do I automate this?” or “How do I make this process easier for the user?”. The answer, quite simply is applying the knowledge you have about solving it. There are, however, times when you just don’t know what can be done to make it even easier.

In this video, I showcase a technique and method for offering users with the ability to checkmark whole sub-ranges of records by simply clicking a button within a sub-summary area of a list view. It’s a wonderfully sublime method of solving the problem. And, understanding the fundamentals means you can use the method for a lot more than just a simple checkbox.

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Custom Function Database - Part 8

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 15:58:56 -0700

Planning out your UX (user experience) obviously requires less work on a smaller solution than it does within a larger solution. I guess that goes without saying, but no matter what solution you start working on, it will always seems to grow and expand to add new features and functionality.

While you can’t always plan for what you don’t know is coming down the road, you can certainly work with what you have in front of you. Trying to prototype and account for how your solution will be used is what your primary focus should be.

For the most part, this comes in two different forms. There’s the build it, then test it camp, and the get feedback/suggestions, then build it camp. In this video I start with the process of building first and then asking for feedback. This is typically my first approach because I simply lack the resources to take the other route.

The big trick with creating your UX is the fact that when users start using it, they establish mental pathways of how to get things done. It’s very hard to change things on your users once a “certain way” of doing things has been established.

So, the best approach is to think really hard about how users will use the software and go as simple and minimal as you can. Don’t try to put everything in within the first release. You can always add more to a user interface and keeping things simple makes it really easy to get feedback when people start asking the inevitable question “can it do this?”.

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Custom Function Database - Part 7

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 10:41:57 -0800

What would software be without icons? Would it be like looking at a tree without leaves? For some reason, a tree just looks more like a tree when it has leaves. Right?

So, this video is about how FileMaker uses SVG icons within it’s buttons. If you’ve always wondered how to make the most of FileMaker’s support of SVG icons, then look no further. In this video I’ll show you my own personal workflow for creating and integrating icons into a FileMaker solutions. You can integrate icons into your solution in a surprisingly quick fashion if you’re willing to get familiar with a bit of node and gulp.

Of course, even if you have no desired to install node, you may very well find tips and tricks which will help you expedite the process of integrating icons.

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Custom Function Database - Part 6

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:09:20 -0800

There comes a time when every great database must acquire a brand new look. This really applies if you’ve never even given your database a user interface or you’re looking to revamp the one you currently have.

The best place to start, I find, is with the “primary objective” of the interface. In fact, I would argue that it’s best to focus on the number 1,2 and 3 aspects or goals of the user interface. I do this for every single layout being designed. By doing this before you start to throw fields on the layout, you afford yourself the ability to keep things simple before getting too complex. Many of the most popular products and software interfaces start out super simple.

Some of them become bloatware, like many of the Microsoft Office products, but they had a good foundation when it came to how users have learned to use them.

In this video, we take a look at starting the user interface for our Custom Function database. I provide some foundation and the basis for how I approach the process and showcase how I implement based on the decisions I’ve made.

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Custom Function Database - Part 5

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 17:03:50 -0800

Lately, here at ISO FileMaker Magazine we’ve been covering a lot about web services and using technologies like REST, cURL and JSON.

Well, that’s not about change with this video. We’re now needing to move forward with our Custom Functions database and make a connection to the web site where the custom functions are hosted.

We do this with a dedicated Custom Function which takes advantage of the Base Elements plugin to make HTTP requests. With the knowledge learned in our cURL video about request & response headers, we can connect to the web site and get the id values of any new custom functions.

Making this type of request means we are relying on code which can break at some point in the future, should the web site itself change. So, I talk about how to deal with this and how to parse the data in the most efficient manner.

Let’s scrape some web data and get it into our database!

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Using cURL within FileMaker Pro

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 19:19:39 -0800

While FileMaker’s script step Insert from URL does allow for basic communication with web services, it is, by no means, comprehensive enough to provide all the features necessary. What’s really needed is the full cURL library.

This open source tool has been available for over 15 years and is baked into a ton of software packages, including FileMaker itself. However, it’s really only exposed within plug-ins such as Base Elements and the MBS plug-in.

So, in order to fully understand what going on, it’s best to start with the source. And, that’s understanding cURL itself and how options are managed and how you set and parse HTTP headers.

This video walks through the process of using cURL within the context of a plug-in. Once you understand how to set and control settings through the plug-in, you’re off to the races and working with any web service you can think of.

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Focus on FileMaker Development Course

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 15:20:04 -0800