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Writing Custom Functions - Successfully

While taking the time to write a four hour custom function the other day, it occurred to me that some viewers may think that complex custom functions are just something which pops out of your head and immediately ends up on the screen. When, in fact, the truth is it takes a lot longer than you expect because you rarely get things perfectly the first time. It's all about wading through the errors and issues and ending up with the desired result. In this video, I walk through my process of compo

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine


Quick Find Power Mode

Who doesn't like the simplicity of using a single field to search across many. That's essentially what Quick Find is. In fact, by default FileMaker makes the silly assumption that every field you add to a layout is something you want the user to be able to search. Essentially, you want to take control of the user experience in terms of search and make sure the user is not only searching what you want them to search, but also able to search in a fashion which is both familiar and comfortable. T

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine


Killer Keywords

In many situations, you'd think the easiest solution would be the best. Saving time and getting the job done quickly. This, however, just isn't the case if you're going to allow users to use a simple text field for managing keywords or tags. A tagging system relies on making it easy for the user, but it may not be so easy to implement itself. Here are a few questions you might be faced with. What happens when one user enters "devloper" on record 1 and another user enters the correctly spelled "

Error Handling & Logging - Updated

When talking about logging, error handling and writing clean code it's never quite as exciting as working on the key features of your solution. Adding in the "cool" stuff and simply making things work is way more fun. Yet, one of the main things you rely on when developing is information from users and from your software itself. If you don't capture any of that helpful information, then you're essentially developing in the dark. You'll get obscure support requests like "It doesn't work." which

Reusable Dialogs Revisit

Causing a user to make an explicit choice within your software really only happens from some sort of "locked-in" process. This process most typically happens within the form of a dialog box. It's the one roadblock you can stick in front of a user and expect input. Your software then uses that input to determine the output or direction. While FileMaker Pro does have its own native dialog box, there are some limitations to the native Show Custom Dialog script step. The number one limitation is th

Assessing Performance

Who doesn't want their software to perform as efficiently and as quickly as possible. Don't we always want things to go faster and work better? Of course we do. The problem is, we don't always take the time to fully think out what is happening when we solve a problem. Sometimes, we just robot our way through the code we are creating because it's how we've always done it - and it's easy or faster. Being an "efficiency nut", when it comes to code, is something I really enjoy. It represents the f

Uploading Files

Even though your "database" includes the word "data", data isn't the only thing we categorize and track. We often need to track discrete files and FileMaker is perfectly adept at doing this. In fact, FileMaker's container field is ideally suited to store all kinds of different files. The problem, however, is simply throwing a container field onto your layout is never really a good idea. If you allow users to simply drop anything into a container, then you'll surely end up with a collection of d

Filtering Data Methods

Like many things in life, there are multiple ways to solve a problem. It all comes down to what methods you're familiar with. If you only know one of the possible options, then that one method may limit you in terms of performance or efficiency. In this video, we'll take a look at just a few of the possible methods of filtering data within FileMaker. The default, most accessible option, may be worth while if you've already got a working relationship. But, what about when you need to present the

FileMaker File Patching

Ahhh, the panacea of being able to improve my FileMaker database offline, then simply applying all the dev changes to the live production file. This is the great promise of the new FMUpgradeTool. It was released along with FileMaker 19 and it's a bit hard to dig into. Unless, you have the time like I did. Fortunately, I'm going to save you the many hours of slogging through the documentation and the trial-n-error which comes with learning any new tech. In this video, I spend an ample amount of

Don't use Default theme styles

One of the great things about FileMaker Pro is it starts you off with a completely blank slate. One of the bad things about FileMaker Pro is it starts you off with a completely blank slate. Yep, that's right, there are things in FileMaker's UI which non-intentionally urge you to do things which may not be as helpful in the future. Of course, some of this comes down to learning as much as you can about how things work. Which, is likely why you'll be watching this video. In this episode, we take

Everything About Add-Ons

These days, the future of FileMaker's flexibility is being created right in front of our eyes. While it's a relatively quiet feature right now, FileMaker Add-ons may blossom into a very beneficial way of enhancing a FileMaker file. True, there are a few rough edges in this preview version of Add-ons, but it's definitely going to be a killer feature if it takes off. Because Claris has been expanding the definition of a FileMaker file within the world of XML, the ability to modify and/or enhance

Learning to Master Looping

Without a fundamental understanding of some programming topics, it's often difficult to solve certain problems in the easiest possible fashion. In fact, one of the things I've enjoyed learning about programming is that more code isn't always better. Searching for the simple answer sometimes takes a bit more time. And, learning to solve the problem with less code is more enjoyable. In this video, I walk through a simple process of massaging some data into a desired format. While the objective of

FileMaker Pro 19 - New Features & Functionality

On Wednesday May 20th, 2020 Claris International Inc. released a new version of FileMaker Pro. Version 19 includes just a handful of changes, but they are far reaching and will extend FileMaker's usefulness in many ways. Of the changes, the biggest is an extensible architecture which allow for portable components called Add-ons to be distributed. The same underlying technology, which uses XML, is also being used to provide support for updating a database file using a command line tool. FileMak

Setting Up Your Security

Security. While it isn't as sexy as a nice UI widget or as crafty as a really cool scripted workflow, setting up your security is something you must consider before any database deployment. When it comes to security, you can't miss a beat. If you do, then that one attack vector might be the one that bites you. And, unless your FileMaker solution is never going to connect with the network at large, knowing who can do what within your system is an essential requirement of security. Getting to kno

Cropping Images with JavaScript - Part 2

It's always nice to have someone simply show you what you need to know in order to solve a problem. There is, however, a problem with just being shown only what you need to know. You deprive yourself of the deeper level of retention that comes from self-discovery of the topic being explored. So, consider this video a comprehensive introduction. One where I guide you through the process of learning the tools of JavaScript within FileMaker Pro. The advantage is the fact that you have your own Fil

Cropping Images with JavaScript

Learning from a technology you don't already understand, while receiving an immediate benefit, is one of my driving reasons for creating content. In this two part series, I dig into the depths of understanding the JavaScript mechanisms natively available to FileMaker developers and learners. This first video focuses on the implementation of an internal cropping tool which uses a web viewer to provide the interaction and actual cropping. The demo file and video show you how to implement the JS l

Navigational Breadcrumbs

What do the following have in common? Products with component parts, generations of people, complex study topics with prerequisites and a chain of historically related events. Yep, you guessed it, it's a hierarchy of things. Something which comes before another thing and are somehow tied together. Within any database system, this is easily accomplished with two simple fields. Yet, facilitating the navigation of the content can be accomplished in a number of ways. One of the more common methods

Leveraging Layout Variables

Within the world of FileMaker development, there are always those golden gems which become the hallmarks of "how to do something" - despite there often being more than one way to solve a problem. For managing lists of data, prior to the existence of the While function, the go-to custom function is CustomList. When it comes to variable output display using a portal you'll almost always reference Virtual List as the commonly understood approach. When it comes to saving user state, there's always

Highlighted Find & Replace

One of the most powerful features of any and all software is the ability to search and identify things which would be human impossible without computers. The ability to search for any given string and have that combination of characters be instantly presented is what has made our current world possible. In this video, we take a look at FileMaker's default Find & Replace feature and we integrate this into our database systems. We then enhance that feature by implementing a Highlighting featu

Integrated Messaging within FileMaker

Communication amongst solution users is often a desirable feature. While many companies will standardize on generalized options such as Slack, it's not your only option when it comes to messaging within a FileMaker solution. In the past, there've been a number "FileMaker only" solutions which take advantage of FileMaker's constant polling of the main data store. However, these solutions pale in comparison to what is available today. With the prevalence of super powerful browser-based Javascript

Top 10 time-saving Layout Tricks

We all love those "Top 10" videos because we know what we're getting into. It's just a list of 10 things right? But it's the best 10 things - right? Ok, well, "best" is possibly relative to what your particular daily workflow is like, but at least there's always something new to learn! Right! And, that's exactly what this video is about. It's about learning those little time-saving tricks which make it much nicer to work within FileMaker's Layout Mode. Need some incentive to check it out? Here'

Server Side Related Record Duplication

Knowing how to take advantage of Server Side scripting within FileMaker is quite critical when you want the best performance possible. Of course, it makes total sense that you'll get the best speeds when working with the data where it's most accessible. The trick with creating scripts which will also work on the server side is being very specific with the context of things. There's also the very important choices of which method you're going to use. In 2018 I covered a method using a dedicated

Multiple Worksheet Excel Exports

When someone asks a simple question like "How can I make FileMaker export a second worksheet in Excel?" The method you use to achieve this may not be immediately apparent. Especially if you've not worked with other programming languages like Python. Rest assured, however, you can certainly solve most any FileMaker problem as long as you're willing to take a little journey into the land of other tools. And, it's probably not as scary as you think it is. Yes, FileMaker is nice and comfortable, bu

Dark Mode Theming in FileMaker

When "dark mode" finally creeps into your operating system, you know it's time you consider the trend and possibly adapt your FileMaker user interface as well. Although, "light mode" is still perfectly acceptable too! In this video, I walk through some of the tips and tricks I use in order to style a FileMaker user interface into a "dark mode" theme. I cover topics such as where and how to find colors, how to deal with grid settings and how to generally convert a light theme into a dark one. I

Pre vs. Post Script Triggers

Occasionally, you hit certain issues within FileMaker development where you're just stumped as to why you can't do something. Let's take a super simple example like being able to show and hide a button based on having selected a given portal row. How do you know when the user is within the portal? How do you know when they've left? Think it's easy? Try to solve this issue without watching this video first. You'll quickly find out, that because of how FileMaker's "event model" works, known as sc
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