|Hover Popovers||09/09/2014 - 11:23am||
It's great to be able to build all kinds of things within FileMaker. It's those few times when you find yourself saying "I wish FileMaker could just do such and such".
Of course, once you come to the point where you realize that FileMaker has access to all these other great technologies, you find yourself saying "I wonder how", instead of "I wish". Along the way, someone comes upon some discovery which allows you to do more with FileMaker than was previously known. Sometimes, using a hack that the programmers of FileMaker never even intended, yet there it is, ready for you to use.
It's actually pretty funny that much of what FileMaker users/developers stumble upon are unintended features by the FileMaker engineers. Then, somewhere down the road, these features become integrated as native functionality.
Well, one of those features is support for a hover event. While FileMaker doesn't offer them natively, you can certainly do this within a web browser. Combine the fact that FileMaker can trigger scripts using a url and you now have Hover Popovers and pretty much any other type of script being run as a result of hovering over a FileMaker object.
This video presents all the information needed to take advantage of hover based events. Even though it is sort of a hack.
|Defensive Coding with Objects||09/01/2014 - 6:47pm||
In the world of programming, the notion of code which breaks, especially as a solution grows and is used by an every increasing number of people, is known as 'software brittleness'. This is, obviously, something you don't want within your FileMaker solution.
What's cool about FileMaker is the fact that, by itself, the software is quite robust and flexible. You can easily develop a solution in an evolutionary way. As you learn new skills, and ways of doing things, your solution can accommodate these changes by allowing you to rename and move things around pretty easily.
FileMaker's notion of context is one of the things you really need to be worried about. If you opt to perform another script using the Perform Script step or you choose the Go To Layout step then selecting the standard options won't cause much future pain.
However, if your solution starts to use any degree of abstraction, then you need to make sure to code things defensively. When you starting using steps like Go To Layout [by Number], Set Field [by Name] and use other abstracted methods of doing things, you need to ensure your code will be up to the task.
This video is all about how to safely and defensively approach FileMaker's nuances. While the functionality was originally created for a totally different reason, the fact that it's there means we can take advantage of it.
|Sorting Data Super Fast||08/20/2014 - 6:37pm||
In this video article and technique file, you'll find some of the most powerful code for accessing things FileMaker can't currently do and this extends well beyond the topic of sorting.
When it comes to sorting data, not records, there's no native 'filemaker' way of doing this. The solution is typically either FileMaker's custom functions, some creative trick with sorting records or using a plugin.
|Performance Benchmarking||08/05/2014 - 4:14pm||
Imagine driving your car without a speedometer. You still know there are laws where a ticket will cost you if you drive over a certain speed. You need information. You need to know how fast you're going. Now flip that around for FileMaker and what you need to know is how slow your scripts are running.
When it comes to creating your FileMaker solution, in particular your scripts, in many cases, you don't know how fast they're running. You just know it "takes some time", and the general approach may be "Well, it takes the time it takes" and leave it at that.
Or, you can take just a small amount of extra effort and benchmark what you've done, then try to find a faster method.
Many times, there are so many inefficiencies, that it's the developer who has caused the slowdown. Maybe the layout is the slow point, maybe it's the number of steps, maybe it's a particular combination of functions being used. You'll never know until you benchmark and compare.
That's what this video is all about. How you can benchmark your scripts and evaluate what direction to take. Right off the bat, I can tell you that using Perform Script on Server will be a huge time-saver for many of your scripts. Beyond that, there may be all kinds of optimizations you can make. What you really need is a simple way to do some benchmarking.
So, watch this video and try out the technique file - you'll be glad you did!
|Jumping Sub-summary List Views||07/28/2014 - 6:30pm||
User navigation is one of the most fundamentally obvious features of any software solution. How easy this navigation is, is often a mix of the platform/device being used, the process flow, and what the developer knows about providing navigation based features within FileMaker.
As well, one of the most exhilarating things about developing a clean feature within your database is knowing it's a low-impact, high value feature. Something which makes life easier for users and adds that little bit of extra "coolness" to your solution.
That feeling of exhilaration was exactly what I felt when I implemented this technique for the first time. I know the users of the system will receive a lot of value, given they spend a lot of time jumping around within the same list view - especially just after performing a search.
While scrolling through a few records in list view is tolerable, it can quickly become a hassle when you have a lot of records to move through.
Fortunately, FileMaker provides some really nice features in List view when sorted by a sub-summary. Not only can you obviously use summary fields to show all kinds of aggregate information, but, FileMaker will keep the list sorted when taking actions like omitting records.
This technique of jumping through sub-summary list views is an excellent example of working with the data on screen. If you've not had the realization that if FileMaker can show the data, then you can access it, then this video is for you!
|Converting HTML to PDF||07/09/2014 - 2:26pm||
Outside of plain text, you can't get much more standard than HTML and PDF. They're pretty much agreed up by all major operating systems and the users who use them. FileMaker certainly supports embedding PDFs within container fields and HTML is quite easily integrated into Web Viewers. Using HTML within FileMaker is one of the most flexible ways to present information.
About the only thing you could wish for, (Yes, I'm sure you could wish for a lot of things) is any easy way to convert your HTML into a PDF. Here's the cool thing, it's already been done!
Using the open source tool wkhtmltopdf, you can populate your web viewer with whatever information you wish. Need a pivot table? Need more display control for your printed Invoices than FileMaker's native Layout mode? Need to integrate information from multiple sources out on the web? Need to just attach a simple PDF to an outbound email?
You've got the solution now. This video and the provided technique file will get you up and running within a very short period of time. With FileMaker 13 and its Perform Script on Server, this solution is bound to be one of your most powerful tools available!
|Marking Sub-summary Ranges||07/01/2014 - 3:54pm||
Working with subsets of data is an extremely common activity within a database. Automating the selection of subsets is also a common objective. In this video tutorial, the various ways to select, identify and mark a range of records is what's covered. If you've found yourself wondering what the best method for marking a range of records is, then look no further. The technique file provided and the associated video will both educate and inspire you when working on your own solutions within FileMaker Pro.
Using the common task of marking a record, the technique file provides a variety of ways to extract the identifying key values for each of the records within a sub-group. Once the key values have been acquired, you have the option of what to use them for. This can be as simple as marking the subset or adding or removing the values from a larger subset.
With the primary objective of not changing the state of the user interface, learning how to deal with similar automated processes will help you become a better FileMaker Pro developer.
|Hijacking Find Mode||06/09/2014 - 7:07pm||
One of the fastest ways to load records into a found set is to simply perform a Find. What becomes a bit difficult, beyond your most basic single field search, is filtering the results of what the user has specified by the requirements of the solution.
What needs to happen is a plain and simple hijacking of FileMaker's Find mode.
This can easily be done with the features provided by FileMaker Pro. You just need to know where and how to hook things up. Most intermediate to advanced users know about FileMaker's Custom Menu Sets, and that's a great place to start, but, what if there was an easier way to limit search results based on a very simple implementation which you may not have considered before?
That's what this video is all about. The features which provide you with the greatest amount of control over what happens within FileMaker's Find mode. Ever wanted to hijack FileMaker's Quick Find? You can do that too. You control what a search returns when you know how to hijack Find mode!
|Database Notifications||06/02/2014 - 12:29pm||
Bad joke: How do you know when your database has a problem?
Answer: Simple, you make a query about it - and have it notify you.
Ok, all jokes aside, you're taking the time to create a wonderful work of technological art by creating a database which will solve all kinds of real world problems.
The problem, however, is you may not know when things go right, or wrong, within your database. Probably, because you haven't taken the time to code in some type of notification system. Fortunately, this is quite easy.
There are all kinds of possible notifications you can use, starting with your most common, which is email. However, email isn't always the most immediate or effective. What about SMS? Or, how about a native (and immediate) smartphone notification system?
Using notifications, you can not only enhance the usefulness of administrative communications for your database, but use the same features for your users as well.
This video and sample file will provide you with the steps and knowledge necessary to make an effective database notification system. If you've never integrated your database with a third party system, and using some of FileMaker 13's new features is on your bucket list, then make sure and give this video a quick review!
|Native Breadcrumbs||05/09/2014 - 1:50pm||
Oh, the wonderful navigational aid of breadcrumbs. It always seems like the web has it all. Yes, you can do pretty much anything within a web viewer.
You don't want to use a web viewer?
Shouldn't you be able to make this happen natively? Well, sure. Why not? You can make it happen with FileMaker 13 and higher!
This video and its technique file present a native way to implement navigational breadcrumbs. It accomplishes this task with a minimal amount of effort and can be localized as well. It won't break if you rename your layouts and supports as many levels as you desire.
Need a bit of FileMaker breadcrumb love? Then watch this video for all the details!