|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!
|Remembered Tabs||11/07/2013 - 12:19pm||
A technically simple, yet highly functional FileMaker solution seems like the ideal type of solution. You won't have a maintenance nightmare and the end user payoff feels really good. The trick is meeting user expectations with simple solutions to problems not solved by FileMaker natively. Such is the case with remembering layout state within a solution. This can happen with tab panel objects quite easily - as this video will show.
By using a combination of script triggers and global variables, a "just-in-time" method of addressing this problem can be used. This keeps the solution light weight and more fluid within mobile only or hybrid deployments.
If you're looking for an easy solution to maintaining tab state then look no further than Remembered Tabs.
|Pop-up Menu Tricks||11/07/2013 - 12:21pm||
Pop-up menus are the de facto widget for making selections from multi-option fields on mobile devices. Sure, checkboxes are possible, but they take up as much space as you have items. Not very efficient given the limited space on smartphones and tablets.
So, on mobile, the two most viable solutions for making multiple selections for a single field are either portals or a pop-up menu. You can use an additional window as well, but that's a technique for another day.
FileMaker has long supported making multiple selections in a pop-up menu via the Shift modifier key. In FileMaker 11, however, this feature went way on Mac OS X. The feature went away but the functionality did not. In fact, we still need this functionality for keeping things nice and compact in mobile only or hybrid designs.
This video showcases a wonderful technique, which works on both desktop and mobile, for supporting a default multi-selection option on fields formatted as pop-up menus.
If you're tight on space and need to offer more than one selection within the same field then look no further than this powerful technique!
|Debugging FileMaker||11/07/2013 - 12:22pm||
So, how exactly, do you debug your FileMaker solution while coding? I'd love to hear about it - seriously! It's always great to pick up a few new tips and tricks along the way. Speaking of tips, I shot this most recent video about the process of debugging.
Personally, I've used the Data Viewer for watch variables and environmental information, but I always ended up with some sort of FileMaker crash and had to revise how I approach things. FileMaker stores your watch variables within its preferences file and they get deleted if FileMaker crashes. Just in case you didn’t know.
When developing for mobile came onto the scene it became a bit more challenging to debug. You can't just open the Debugger within FileMaker Go and walk through the various steps of any given script.
Adaptation was required and has resulted in my latest methods of debugging. Over time I’ve learned about new tools and methods but the core of debugging often comes down to the tried and true method of using a Show Custom Dialog and just looking at what the output is. Hopefully, this video will have some more tips you can use to make the process less painful!
|Web Viewer Notes||11/07/2013 - 12:22pm||
So you've integrated support for managing notes, and you'd really like your users to be able to view the full length of each note. The problem is FileMaker's portal object.
With portals, you get a fixed field width and height and it's the same for all related records shown within the portal. Sometimes it will chop the text off and other times it will show a lot of extra white space. Never fear, it's the wonderful web viewer to the rescue.
This video will provide you with the technique file and content necessary to manage notes in a very effective manner. Learn the concepts used, and you'll expand your knowledge of FileMaker to a level where you can leverage that knowledge across many other aspects of your development!
|Designing with Tab Panels||10/02/2013 - 1:57pm||
At the recent annual developer's conference for FileMaker Pro, I was fully intent on showing everyone pretty much everything I knew about working in Layout mode.
But... That was crazy. There's just no way I could ever get through it all. There's so much you can do, and so many ways you can use the available tool set. So I focused on the tools we have available.
One of the areas I had wanted to spend more time with were tab panels. They really are a designer's power tool when it comes to showing only what you want to show and WHEN you want to show it.
In this video, I showcase a menu system I've used which makes for a very attractive presentation method on FileMaker Go. Of course, it can certainly be used on the desktop as well, but the essential premise of the video is to show you what's possible with tab panels - beyond using them as just standard tab panels.
|Creative Single Checkboxes||09/25/2013 - 12:50pm||
For the new user to FileMaker, it seems so easy to simply create a field, make a value list containing "Yes" and "No" and set the field format to Checkboxes.
It sounds so simple right?
Well, this seemingly simple desire tends to trick more new developers than I'd like. After receiving an email about this very goal, I decided to create a video about how I approach single checkboxes.
In the past, I've created videos about temporary checkboxes using just global variables, but I figured I should elaborate on the data storage of the checkbox and how you can creatively display a checkbox when you opt not to use graphics.
I should mention, however, because of the font differences between Windows and Macintosh, this solution isn't as ideal as graphics. Especially, when designing for cross-platform, primarily because of the rendering differences between the two. But, when used for FileMaker Go on iPad or iPhone, or limited to one specific platform, this solution is quite ideal!
|Portal Filtering with ExecuteSQL||11/12/2013 - 8:15am||
The new world of FileMaker development has been opened up due to the ExecuteSQL function. The days of many different extra table occurences should be behind us.
Yes, there will still be the occasional user interface related table occurrence which is still necessary. However, your advantages with using ExecuteSQL should dictate that it be leveraged to its full extent when possible - especially in an increasingly mobile computing world.
The real trick for some developers is advancing what they know and letting go of older knowledge. As an example, I'm periodically faced with FileMaker developers who remember their development days when working with FileMaker versions 3 through 6. I've seen FileMaker 10/11/12 solutions, new solutions in fact, which were developed with many more files than is necessary.
This same thing applies to ExecuteSQL. In order to take advantage of the newer technology (which, in this case, is quite old, but still valid, technology) you have to learn new things.
Hopefully, that's exactly what this video will do for you. If you've not yet taken the step to learning how SQL within FileMaker can benefit your own solution, then absorb as much as you can from this video!
I've also included some links on the article page to various SQL resources.
|Virtual List Portal Sidebar||09/04/2013 - 4:50pm||
The wonderful thing about FileMaker is this. If you don't know of a native way to make it happen, you just force the native tools to bend to your wishes to accomplish your goals.
Such is the case with using portals. While using a portal for something related to the UI, navigation for example, is nothing new, the notion of storing that navigation in something other than a table may be a bit foreign to some.
The crux of this technique is to use global variables in such a creative way as to avoid some of the short comings with using a dedicated table for facilitating solution wide navigation. If you've not used the Virtual list technique to render the contents of a global variable within a portal, then this technique provides the perfect excuse to learn. Pretty much every FileMaker solution needs to facilitate navigation.
Need icons in your sidebar? No problem.
Watch this video for a good understanding of how to bend FileMaker portals to your every wish.