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Interesting Articles

Information on Apple's FileMaker application development environment

If you have any comments, reaction or contributions to the articles below, please feel free to contact us with your views.

 

Interesting Articles - FileMaker

Here are a collection of interesting articles related to the FileMaker database environment. If you have any comments or reaction to these articles, please feel free to contact us with your views.

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back to topFileMaker 10: What's New?

Launched at the beginning of January 2009, FileMaker Pro 10 brings a fresh new interface with a redesigned and customisable Status Toolbar that puts commonly used FileMaker Pro features, previously only accessible from the main menu, right at users' fingertips for streamlined navigation, better workflow and time-saving shortcuts.

According to FileMaker president Dominique Goupil, "The new FileMaker Pro 10 interface is the result of years of in-depth research into how people actually interact with databases.  This major new version of FileMaker Pro brings the power of databases to everyone whether they create their own databases, or use one from someone else."

Other major new features include saved finds, script triggers, dynamic reports, sending email directly via SMTP, additional themes and templates, an enhanced quick start screen and improvements to both Server and Server Advanced editions.

FileMaker Pro 10 - specific new capabilities

Status Toolbar - based on customer feedback, the new Status Toolbar is redesigned to give streamlined navigation, better workflow and timesaving shortcuts.  Users can even customise the toolbar by dragging and dropping the features they use the most.  Now managing your FileMaker information is simpler and more straight forward than ever before.

Saved Finds and Script Triggers – a new time-saving feature.  FileMaker Pro 10 now saves searches automatically and allows you to name and save a set of specific searches.  For example, if you want to create a find request for customers in the UK who have spent more than £1,000 in the previous year, but have not ordered anything in the last six months, FileMaker Pro will save the search so you can access it over and over again in the future. The new Saved Finds feature makes searching a breeze.

Script Triggers - these allow you to automatically run scripts based on user actions like clicking a button, entering a field, or inputting data.  And all it takes is a couple of clicks to add a Script Trigger to an object. You'll be able to avoid data entry errors, automate database tasks and simplify the design of your solution.

There are 12 predefined Script Triggers that can be used on layouts, fields, buttons, portals, tabs, or a Web Viewer.  Several Script Triggers can even be linked together to run based on a single event.  The possibilities are endless!

You can automatically run scripts based on a variety of actions such as these:

  • After a field is entered
  • When typing into a field
  • After a value is changed
  • Before data is saved
  • Before exiting a field
  • When a layout becomes active
  • Before characters are typed into an active layout
  • When navigating from record to record
  • Before a record is committed
  • When an uncommitted record is changed back to its original value
  • When changing from Browse, Preview or Find mode

Dynamic Reports - make changes to your grouped data ‘on the fly’ (in List and Table view) for easier customisation..  One of the most popular uses of databases is to create reports.  With FileMaker Pro 10, you can now create beautiful reports - simple or sophisticated - that are based on your data.  And, unique only to FileMaker Pro 10, you can actually make changes directly to the underlying data from within your report ‘on-the-fly’ as you work.  Any changes you may make to the data within your report will also show up immediately in the database, without ever having to switch views!

Enhanced Quick Start Screen - get going quickly with the new ‘See it, Use it, Learn it’ interface to start learning how to use FileMaker Pro.  Plus easily create databases from existing data sources like .CSV, Tab, and also now from Excel 2007 (.xlsx) or Bento 2.

Enhanced SQL support - now you can display, access and use data from even more SQL sources, including SQL tables in Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Oracle 11g and MySQL 5.1 community edition.

Send Email via SMTP - save time by sending email directly from FileMaker Pro instead of having to open your email client. But remember that you might need to check the outbound email for anti-spam triggers before sending (this is a service that RapidHost can provide for hosted FileMaker systems).

Server - FileMaker Server 10 has a number of new features, including:

  • Simplified server management that allows administrators to import and export records using server-based scripts - no more robots are required
  • An enhanced PHP Site Assistant with 10 PHP Site Assistant themes plus one for the iPhone - to create visually stunning websites in minutes
  • The ability to send email via SMTP directly from FileMaker Server 10 without the need for an e-mail client
  • A new Database Log Viewer that provides a snapshot of your database logs to quickly pinpoint trouble spots.

Server Advanced – same enhancements as Server 10 but also now allows up to 999 users to simultaneously connect to FileMaker Pro databases - about four times the number of live connections in FileMaker Server 10 and in previous versions of FileMaker Server Advanced.

 

More details and demonstrations of the new features can be found at www.filemaker.co.uk/products/fmp/features.html.

If you’d like to find out about the advantages of hosting your FileMaker 10 (or previous) databases then please call us and we’ll talk you through it.  If you’ve already decided that hosting is the best way forward for you, then why not visit our dedicated FileMaker hosting website (www.hostfilemaker.com) for details of our low-priced offers.


back to topFileMaker 9: New features

There are a wealth of new features in FileMaker Pro 9, covering the following areas:

  • Sharing and collaboration
  • Reporting and analysis
  • Usability improvements
  • Scripting
  • Functions and script steps

To find out more, visit the FileMaker UK website. 


back to topFileMaker 9: Upgrading solutions from previous versions

FileMaker have published upgrade paths to Pro 9 for solutions created with FileMaker 6, 7, 8 and 8.5.

Details are available on this page in the FileMaker Knowledgebase.


back to topFileMaker 9: Compatibility with Mac OS X Leopard

On December 4, 2007, FileMaker released a downloadable update (9.0v3 ) to ensure FileMaker Pro 9 and FileMaker Pro 9 Advanced compatibility with Mac OS X Leopard.

More details about this update are available on this page in the FileMaker Knowledgebase.


back to topFileMaker 9: Connecting a FileMaker solution to the web - the easy way

One thing that we've noticed amongst our FileMaker development customers is a general difficulty in finding web developers who understand FileMaker well.

This has lead some to conclude that it is too difficult to make their FileMaker applications web ready and have chosen other technology routes.

Well nothing could be further from the truth!

A standard feature in FileMaker 9 is the ability to directly connect with MySQL (and other SQL driven databases). MySQL is very well understood by web developers and can be configured to be a simple pass-through front-end for a FileMaker 9 solution. Thus web applications can be developed in the 'normal' way by developers who are unfamiliar with FileMaker, safe in the knowledge that the web input/output of data is being managed by FileMaker and is fully synchronised with other non-web FileMaker users.

This is an ideal solution to order management situations, where stock availability and order taking are wanted via a new web interface but keeping the FileMaker back-end application intact is paramount.

If you'd like to know more about how easy it is to put your existing FileMaker 9 applications 'on the web' then just give us a call or visit this page on the FileMaker web site.



back to topFileMaker 9: System Limits

Here are some useful system limits for you to remember when building FileMaker applications.

  • Maximum field name length - 100 characters
  • Maximum table name length - 100 characters
  • Maximum field comment length - 30,000 characters
  • Maximum custom function text length - 30,000 characters
  • Maximum number of database files hosted by FileMaker Pro client, peer-to-peer - 10 databases
  • Maximum number of files hosted by FileMaker Server - 125 files
  • Maximum number of records in IWP table view - 50 records
  • Maximum number of records in IWP list view - 25 records

 

back to topFileMaker 9: Five Web Publishing Options

There are a number of different ways to make use of FileMaker data within a website. The information below, sourced from FileMaker UK, provides useful guidance on five of them.

1) PHP in combination with an HTML editor or PHP Site Assistant - need FileMaker Server 9 (or Advanced) - use PHP Web Publishing, more ...

2) XSLT and the HTML editor of an XLST Site Assistant - need FileMaker Server 9 (or Advanced) - use XLST Web Publishing, more ...

3) Create layout in FileMaker Pro and publish for access by up to 5 concurrent users - need FileMaker Pro 9 (or Advanced) - use Instant Web Publishing, more ...

4) Create layout in FileMaker Pro and publish for access by up to 100 concurrent users - need FileMaker Server 9 Advanced - use Instant Web Publishing, more ...

5) Integrate FileMaker data into a MySQL driven web application, more ...

 

back to topFileMaker Pro: Optimising network performance for shared databases

The performance of a FileMaker shared database in a networking environment depends upon many factors, including;

  • What is the network connection speed?
  • Where is the database located in the network?
  • Is the host computer dedicated to FileMaker Pro hosting?
  • Are you using FileMaker Server?
  • Is the hosting computer optimised?
  • Are the guest computers optimised?
  • Is the way that the guests open the FileMaker database optimised?
  • Is the FileMaker database optimised?

For a very useful article from the FileMaker US Knowledgebase that explains all of the above click here. Alternatively, just give us a call and we'll talk you through it.

back to topMobile Applications: Using FileMaker on iPhone and iPod Touch devices

US developer FMTouch has technology that allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to access multiple FileMaker databases directly from these devices, whether connected to the internet or not. 

The software is continually being enhanced and has a raft of pre-built applications that can be used alongside it. More details from the FMTouch website.

back to topFileMaker Pro 10 Advanced: Given 'A' rating by Government Computer News

A June 2009 review of FileMaker 10 by US-based Government Computer News makes for very positive reading.

Features: A+
Performance: A
Ease of use: A
Value: C+

"FileMaker Pro is among the easiest databases to use. It has always been simpler to use than Microsoft Access, though it has never been as robust. However, features such as the Quick Start Screen, conditional formatting and e-mail links to hosted databases are helping FileMaker widen the gap between it and Access on ease of use, while closing the gap on the technical advantages of Access.

"The Quick Start Screen is a start-up wizard that lets you choose among creating a new database, opening an existing one or learning more about FileMaker. In previous versions, you had to navigate all over the interface to create a database. Now all you have to do is point and click.  It is also easier to apply conditional formatting to fields and objects so that users can notice changes or trends in their data. In the past, that type of formatting relied on calculated fields, which was time-consuming and inefficient. Now it’s faster to apply any changes to a field or object. FileMaker Pro 10 Advanced also lets you choose a single command to create an e-mail message with an automatically generated hyperlink. In the past, creating a hyperlink was an advanced capability; now you don’t even need to know the URL for your hosted database.

"Unlike Access, FileMaker generates reports as PDF files by default. FileMaker is more robust than Access in this respect because you can now consolidate multiple reports into one PDF file.

"The latest version of FileMaker also improves the program’s ability to work with Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and open-source MySQL databases. In Version 9, you could create a live connection among those data sources, which made it an ideal solution for federal agencies with mixed database systems. Version 9 could query a SQL data source through Open Database Connectivity, create a table for the data source and import that data into FileMaker. But that lengthy and time-consuming process was riddled with complications. In Version 10, Web Viewer has simplified the process and provided a live connection with SQL Server as opposed to just a snapshot. The feature is so easy to use that we watched people who had never before connected to SQL Server do so effortlessly on the first attempt.

"For more sophisticated users, such as developers, FileMaker Pro 10 Advanced makes it easier to organize scripts using features such as Script Grouping. It also makes it easier to design better layouts with tools such as Character Auto-Resize and Enhanced Tab Control.

"Our biggest surprise with Version 10 was how well it works with Excel files that are formatted in Extensible Markup Language. FileMaker was easier to use than Access to manipulate and report our test data. It doesn’t have the depth of data analysis that Access has, but what FileMaker can do, it does better than Access. FileMaker’s drag-and-drop tools help users create a variety of custom reports, while Access requires more time-consuming manual steps. Also, Access has a 2G database capacity; FileMaker has an 8T capacity. Not that our 10M file stretched those boundaries, but people who often work with databases know how quickly 10M can turn into 10G or even 10T.

"Whether you’re an advanced or intermediate user, FileMaker is a solid database platform. Despite its steep $499 price tag, FileMaker Pro 10 Advanced merits our Reviewer’s Choice designation."