Our Videos

Merged Import Modification Tracking 03/31/2014 - 10:06am

When developing within FileMaker, there are often times when I'm surprised at how much "figuring out" is required to solve a problem. In this video article I provide a great deal of information about a problem I was having with managing a recurring import of some inventory data.

The data being imported was constantly changing and came from an external source where only a few fields are controlled by the user. With the original FileMaker system, it was structured in such a way where the "clean slate" approach was taken.

The "clean slate" approach, which you can likely guess, is one in which you simply wipe all previous data and simply import a whole new set. While this works well with small record sets, the more you import, and the larger the data set, the more of an impact, in terms of waiting time, you'll feel. You also lose the benefits of being able to assign your own internal key values and maintaining those within the schema.

So, what's the answer to the question of a recurring import where a significant percentage of data may not change? It's record modification tracking. You need to track which records were modified in order to know which should be post processed or updated by the logic of your solution.

This video and the sample file demonstrates exactly how I approached the problem and includes valuable information which I am sure will make you a better FileMaker developer. If you've never understood why you might want to use a "hash" for comparing data, or if you've thought you should really look into performing scripts on the server side then, by all means, jump into this video. It has a ton of great stuff to learn from!

Clickable Images - Using HTML Image Maps 03/24/2014 - 12:28pm

Just like fashion, there are certain technologies which often cycle around and find new life in our modern tech world. A great example are animated gifs. And speaking of making the rounds, don't forget about the 20 plus year old tech of HTML Image Maps.

Since FileMaker Pro has integrated Web Viewers and with the addition of FileMaker's fmp:// url, we've long been able to integrate images with irregularly shaped areas offering any number of polygonal objects which are user clickable.

If you deal with any kind of map, seating chart, irregular shaped real-world object which requires specific defined areas, then look no further than HTML Image Maps. No Flash required here.

The biggest issue with using this straight forward tech is the time it takes to generate the defined object regions. That is, unless you know how to use the right software which makes the process a breeze. The rest is integrating into your FileMaker layout.

Using OmniGraffle to generate clickable HTML image maps, you can quickly and seamlessly integrate this old, but reliable, technology within your own FileMaker solutions. Need to make that company blueprint of all the corporate meeting rooms a clickable map? Look no further than this video. It has pretty much everything you need!

Base64 Graphics & Icons 03/10/2014 - 9:50pm

For me, it's always been one of those itches I could never quite scratch. You know, the fact that in order to show some of your user interface graphics you needed to store these graphics within your database - along with your data.

In fact, it's pretty much accepted that you create container fields, many times within a dedicated table, to store graphics and resources.

The issue I had with this approach was not that it needs to be done, but the fact that the user interface graphics were not separated out from the rest of my data. I wanted to be able to simply "draw" graphics onto the layout.

Well, this itch can now be scratched with FileMaker 13's new Base64* set of functions. While you still need at least one container field in order to render your graphics, the new additions have reduced the number of fields in total.

Watch this video to gain a full understanding of how this works and just how easy it is to integrate into your own solutions!

Sending HTML Emails 02/27/2014 - 4:54pm

For the email purist, the only valid email is a plain text email. For the rest of the world there's HTML email. Currently, FileMaker only supports native sending of plain-text emails.

The available Send Mail script step is certainly a capable solution for sending your plain-text emails - and solves the problem most of the time. You can use your own SMTP servers or send email via a free hosted email account such as Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail.

If, however, your goal is to join the rest of the marketing world and make your email correspondence appear as clean and professional as the Apple's of the world, then you'll need to know how to make it happen within your solution.

This video provides the code and the know-how in order to integrate HTML Email sending within your FileMaker solution. True, you'll inevitably need a plug-in to make it happen, but with the new Perform Script on Server step, you can have the server send the email for you. No need to mess with client side configurations. Just create the script, put the plug-in on server and send your HTML straight from FileMaker!

Endless Picture Sliders 02/03/2014 - 10:55am

One of the fun aspects of working with FileMaker, or any other programming environment, is coming up with creative solutions to using the provided tools.

In this case, it's FileMaker 13's new sliders which provide some really cool functionality. When paired with Get ( TriggerTargetPanel ) you can simply use the Slider control for the purpose of capturing a swipe on a mobile device.

When you combine this knowledge with desired features, such as showing a (theoretically) endless number of pictures, you arrive at a solution which can be used in more places than just the one you've figured out.

If your solution is going to end up with mobile features and you want to use the Slider control for capturing swipes this video will have the information you need.

If you simply want a compact way to present multiple pictures we've got that covered too!

Solution Wide Popover Menus 01/23/2014 - 12:57pm

Having access to one of the more recent and most prevalent UI patterns within FileMaker is extremely empowering. Using Popovers and portals, it's now possible to create solution wide menu systems which can be used for navigation, actions or whatever you see fit.

When you combine global variables, with the Virtual List technique and popovers, you can significantly decrease the amount of time it would normally take to maintain even a moderately complex menu system within a FileMaker solution.

It only takes a bit of creativity and foresight to implement solution wide popover menus which can be easily changed. These menus can all leverage the same elements and dynamically change based on any number of variables.

In this video, I walk you through the components which make up this powerful technique and reveal a number of powerful core methods for making it happen. Whatever level you're at, there's something to be gained by watching this video tutorial about popover menus.

Multitenancy Security Setup 01/02/2014 - 11:59am

Crafting a complex security setup within FileMaker can be a bit daunting. Possibly, because of how you interact with and establish security within FileMaker. Despite what may seem obvious, it isn't just about what FileMaker's default security provides, but how you integrate the controls which you have access too. When solution security setup and testing is the after thought, there's a lot of potential for accidental holes in the security model. However, if you take the upfront steps of setting things up from the beginning, the whole problem is a much easier nut to crack.

This video and the companion technique file will walk you through the process of establishing your security model. It offers some useful tips and tricks for working with FileMaker's cumbersome security dialogs and helps you test your security in a much more fluid way.

If you've felt like your solution was lacking in security and you knew there was more to take advantage of, then you'll certainly learn a few more things in this video. If you've never even worried about setting up security on your FileMaker solution then make sure to watch this video!

Using FileMaker 13 Themes 12/18/2013 - 3:28pm

Prior to FileMaker 13, my interest in any of FileMaker's default themes was pretty much zero. Being that I personally enjoy the process of designing a nice user interface, I was content with creating, and hacking, whatever user interface I needed. I did this on pretty much every layout, one-by-one, using the Classic theme selected as the default.

Enter the world of FileMaker 13 and my perception of FileMaker themes has now made a full 180. You see, the advantage of custom themes, custom themed objects and the ability to have an unlimited number of these, themed objects that is, makes the process of truly theming a solution an EXTREMELY powerful proposition.

Envision this, your solution needs an update. It's looking a bit tired and some big company, like Apple, releases a new OS. This new OS starts to make your solution look even more tired and you would desperately love to update the look and feel. However, you seriously dread the prospect of walking through hundreds of layouts making individual changes to hundreds of objects - NO THANK YOU! Well, worry no more, this problem is all but solved if you really understand how FileMaker 13 implements new custom themes. If you're still wondering how powerful they are, then make sure to watch this tutorial video for a comprehensive understanding.

List Function Leverage 12/02/2013 - 2:52pm

Once you understand the logical branching of an If() statement, it's easy to start combining a bunch of chunks of text for the purpose of data display. The problem, however, is things get really convoluted when you start to combine a variety of fields for consolidated output. You end up with a larger collection of many If statements and things become harder to read.

On the upside, one of the more enjoyable aspects of coding is discovering the elegance of concise and efficient code by using various functions in order to arrive at your desired output - without having the overhead and complex looking code.

The List function is one of those powerful functions which can be used to combine a bunch of text and then manipulate it into the desired output.

In this video, I showcase a starting point which has a number of conditional If statements and break this down into using just a few List functions.

I also show you how to leverage the list function in order to extract aggregate data which might otherwise add a good amount of overhead to the complexity of your solution.

If saving table occurrences and relationships is part of your solution agenda, then this video will have some useful information.

Error Handling & Logging 11/18/2013 - 10:50am

If your FileMaker solution doesn't currently have any type of error handling built in, there may come a day when you need to know what's going on. Especially when things don't work as expected. You see, here's the crux of the situation. While you can certainly control the behavior of your solution and how things work on the inside, you can't control the external operating system and other aspects beyond the guts of your own solution.

What this means is your Export Field or your Import Records script step may break on one given client for some reason or another. You've also built logic into your solution in which inevitable dependencies exist. If script A must run successfully, in order for the follow-on script B to run as well, you need to trap for any possible errors which may happen within script A. This is when you need your own error handling for your solution - beyond FileMaker's error handling for it's own environment.

Since error handling is one of the more boring aspects of programming, it's beneficial to have an easy-to-use and quick-to-implement system which can be added to any FileMaker solution. This technique file and video provides just such a solution!

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