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Plugging-In And Reader Q & A
Posted by: Editor / Wednesday, May 31, 2000 – 12:00pm
Plugging-In: A Look At Email Plug-Ins for FileMaker Pro
The following plug-ins work directly with FileMaker Pro and your SMTP and POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3). POP3 is the way that email is received by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and held until you login and download. They don't need an email application, but you still need and ISP that has mail send/receive capabilities. Frequently it is similar to smtp.yourDomain.com and mail.yourDomain.com, though there may be variations.
This plug-in appears to be the most full-featured SMTP (send mail) plug-in and will soon have POP3 to download email from multiple accounts. However, it only runs on the Macintosh as it also uses "MondoMail Daemon" and an AppleScript to allow it to run in the background. This is a great asset if you set up mass email and cannot stop processing in the database to do so, or schedule email to send at another time. Setup is through a file called "MondoMail/FM Settings."
Based on the popular MondoMail, this plug-in allows attachments (and helps you find the file to attach!), and allows the ability to upload external files via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) as well as upload data from fields via FTP, and download files from a web server. Accessing web pages is not only for files, but can be used for getting data out of websites such as stock quotes or weather reports.
Included with the plug-in is a complete User Guide in.pdf format and a tutorial with sample files to assist you in integrating email sends with your own databases. For those of you that need to send mail with Web Companion, you'll find the guestbook.fp3 sample revised to work with the plug-in along with the necessary HTML/CMDL files to access it.
Like all plug-ins, this one needs to be in the FileMaker Extensions folder (Macintosh) of the FileMaker Pro folder. The installer will automatically place the mail daemon and AppleScript into a folder in your Operating System folder. And the first time you install, it will remind you to set your SMTP server name. It works like the other External() functions with two parameters: the function name and the attributes needed by that function:
External("MMXT-SendMail", SMTP & "|" & FROM & "|" & SUBJECT & "|" & TO & "|" & [ATTACHMENT] & "|" & BODY)
Author's Note: See documentation for full syntax, as other attributes, even empty fields, may be needed
Plug-in: SMTPit, POP3it
These Plug-ins must be in the system folder of the FileMaker Pro folder for Windows and in the FileMaker Extensions folder for Macintosh. Once in the proper folder, they are selected from the Plug-in tab of the Application Preferences under the Edit menu. After you check the box next to these Plug-ins, also click the "Configure..." button. This will allow you to set up some defaults like SMTP host, To and From and other fields, Server connection Timeout.
Full documentation is included in.pdf format (Adobe Acrobat Reader required) or in.html format (readable by any browser). You also get sample files to show you how to send and receive email with or without attachments. A Web Companion example is downloadable from the website. The POP3 will download your email from multiple domains and put data into specified fields for you. This is wonderful for those email-based web forms. No more parsing!
This plug-in gets a high score for being cross-platform! The Mac version is listed as "beta" but performed flawlessly when tested. Also of note is a Windows only Plug-in by Comm-Unity Net called SAVEit, that allows you to name files dynamically, create directories (folders) and write or append text files. Currently under development is FTPit for saving files to a remote server.
All plug-ins should be tested prior to being called. Unpredictable results could cause problems in scripts if the plug-in isn't installed or "active." You can test by making a call to the version:
If you get an error (and each plug-in will list any errors returned), you will know that the plug-in is not activated. Simply have your script Send Message with a warning that the External() functions will not work properly. If you Perform Script[Subscript] to this one "Check Plugin" before every call (or series of calls), you will be safe in executing them.
Like the SMTPit and POP3it plug-ins above, this one is configured from the Application Preferences. Because it sends and receives email, you need to specify your email user name and passwords, along with the SMTP and POP3 servers. It has some neat options like logging and setting an icon next to your system clock. You choose an attachments folder locally or on a network to make a default download path for incoming files.
Installation creates Outbox, Inbox and Sentmail files for you to use. You can also call the functions from your own databases. The Tutorial/User Guide is in.html format, viewable by any browser. It has complete install/set up instructions, as well as a list of all the External() functions for this plug-in. It separates the various fields (Subject, From, etc.) to allow you to check for specific subjects or senders before downloading the email!
One requirement for this plug-in, is to have Web Companion enabled. It's used to receive email.
Plug-In: MAIL AGENT
This cross-platform plug-in allows you to send an receive email with attachments, mass email and from multiple email accounts. It works similarly as all the plug-ins. Documentation is limited with an example file, but if you are familiar with calling External() functions, all them are listed.
A new Plug-in for Max is "TCP Extra." It requires Open Transport, so is MAC only, but will allow you to download website (images included) into a FileMaker Pro Database.
Plug-In: dbMailer , pop/smtp
This is the most complete cross-platform plug-in. You can download just the plug-in or the "Package" that includes sample files and a Manual in.html format. Other options are "DbMailer Pro" and "eBill". These two are complete solutions for group email and sending/receiving billing via email with or without Runtime versions (FileMaker Pro is not needed for single user).
Beverly Voth recently moved from San Marcos, TX to London,KY to join Moonbow Software, Inc. as the Vice President for Web Development.
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