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FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Pro has some very simple and straight-forward validation options. For example, if you only want one field named email to only ever have a single copy of a given email, you choose the Unique option in the Validations section of the field's options.

But, what if you want to allow a given contact record to have multiple email addresses. How do you check for uniqueness across multiple fields? The same email could appear within one field and then would be perfectly valid in a second field which doesn't contain the original email.

Well, here's the solution. Watch this video and use the provided technique file to simply copy the solution into your own FileMaker database. We'll use some creative tricks in order to make the process both robust and very powerful!

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FileMaker Magazine

Whether you're just starting out with FileMaker Pro or you've been hovering in the intermediate zone for a little while, it's always a good thing to have a solid understanding of how to structure data and use the Relationship Graph in order to accomplish the end objective.

When it comes to presenting a reducing set of available options, you have to understand how to get at what isn't being used in order to present it. The steps you need to take to show what isn't being used requires you to, first, know what IS being used.

In this example technique file and video, we take a look at breaking down the individual parts which make it easier to understand how to present a list of reducing available options. Once you know how to create dedicated filtering keys and how to construct your value list, it should be pretty easy to present the data you want to present.

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FileMaker Magazine

So, what's the point of collecting all that data if you're not going to determine what it's telling you? Well, a lot of those burning questions are often answered with the power of the Aggregate functions.

Whether you simply need some total using the Sum() function or if you're an advanced developer writing crazy scripted loops using the List() function, you need to know how to use the Aggregate functions to achieve the desired results.

There are a few peculiarities about using the Aggregate functions, but once you've got them down you can decide how you want your database to behave. Using the Aggregate functions, you can store your aggregate data and move in the direction of better performance in favor of FileMaker figuring it out for you all the time. Or, you can just use FileMaker in the same way you've always been doing and simply take advantage of its easy power. Either way, it's all covered in this video about the Aggregate functions.

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FileMaker Magazine

Don't get me wrong, FileMaker has a lot of cool things it can do all on its own. In fact, they keep adding more and more useful tools which makes it easy to create great working software.

There are, however, those certain things that FileMaker just can't do on it's own. For example, you can't interact with images within container fields quite like you can certain web pages. Yet, right in front of us, we have the wonderfully powerful Web Viewer which exposes access to the power of JavaScript and all those wonderfully free libraries.

Enter the common scenario where an easy-to-understand image file directly represents a nicely complex data structure. We'd like to use the image to navigate the data and we can certainly add it directly to a layout and overlay buttons over it. But, hold your horses there señor gung-ho developer. What if your image is so complex that it would be absolutely tiny if you placed it on the layout at 100%.

Well, that's when we ring up our wonderful friend Mr. SVG. He'll take care of us. He's scalable you know! So, how about a zoomable and clickable SVG which directly represents how we'd like users to navigate the data? No problem!

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FileMaker Magazine

When first learning about database development, and how to store large files such as media, archives and documents, I was introduced to the concept of a BLOB (Binary Large OBject).

At that time, I wasn't using FileMaker Pro as of yet but a database called FoxPro. The concept of FileMaker's Container fields, as places to store BLOBs, came so much easier than having to convert a file into another format which can be stored within a SQL data store - which is what you have to do with some other database systems.

In today's modern computing world you need to be familiar with how to encrypt things and how to transfer them between various services. This video will overview the Base64 encoding functions, the Crypt functions and all the other Container related functions. If you'd like to understand how and where the container functions will help you out with working with containers then you'll likely find what you need in this video.

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FileMaker Magazine

Knowing how FileMaker's Date and Time functions actually work is quite a big help when you're creating anything related to time based data.

When I first started learning FileMaker, I was pleased to see how easy it was to use the date and time functions. However, I didn't quite know how things worked underneath the hood. It wasn't until I tried creating my first calendar within FileMaker that I had to really get into the guts of what was going on.

Once I learned how the functions really worked, I was able to easily achieve the results desired. This video goes through the insides of how the date and time functions really work. This is what you really need to know in order to get the most out of FileMaker's date and time capabilities.

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FileMaker Magazine

If you're the type of person who's into Math, then you probably know when you need to use Factorial() versus Exp() versus Div(). Inevitably, you're a better mathematician than I. My use of the Number functions extends to how useful they can be when you're creating your FileMaker user interface and solving workflow related problems.

When it comes to FileMaker's Number functions, there are number of tricks I've picked up over the years from those who are much smarter at the "math part" than I am. For the most part, the functions are there when you need them and are obviously useful when your required solution deals with math.

In this video, I go through the Number functions and talk about when and how I've used them. Which ones I've used the most and what you can do with them.

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FileMaker Magazine

While placing fields and merge text onto a layout is a simple matter of adding the elements to the layout, the formatting you apply to onscreen data can only go so far. Sure, we can use Conditional Formatting in order to achieve all kinds of great looking layouts, but, what if there were a way to go beyond these straight-forward layout tools and leverage even more control.

What about dynamically displaying colored and formatted text without having to create calculated fields? Well, all of this, and more, can be accomplished when you take advantage of FileMaker's Text Formatting functions.

This will video will walk you through what you need to know about the Text Formatting functions and how they can be used to give your layouts a much more impactful presence.

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FileMaker Magazine

When you're learning a new skill or programming language, you don't always know what you might need to know. Such was the case when I received an email asking me to go through the various groups of FileMaker functions. I thought to myself, "In most of my videos, I showcase the use of certain functions, but, I've never really gone through each function one by one."

So, in this video, I do exactly that. I relay my experience and exposure to each of the various FileMaker functions. Starting with the Text group, I walk through each of the functions, or function types, and talk about their use and what I consider their frequency of use to be in daily FileMaker development.

Granted, each solution built in FileMaker is always different and where some solutions may need more math and numbers, others may just store and manipulate data, it's a great thing to know about all the possible functions you can use. And, that's exactly what this video is about!

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FileMaker Magazine

While barcodes have been around for decades, and we all know how fundamental they are to everyday life, it doesn't mean your last implementation is still the best way to integrate them. Technology is always changing and it's moving forward while new technologies replace older ones. A barcode which used to be in JPEG format can now be in the scalable SVG format.

In this video, I walk through the use of a JavaScript library which allows for the easy creation of SVG barcodes. This works without a specific font and allows for a scalable file which can be integrated into a PDF or any other type of output. Need barcode support on FileMaker Go on iOS? Need to generate barcodes client side on either Mac or Windows?

If you're building a solution which needs to use barcodes, and you're looking for the least expensive option, then you can't get much better than a commercially free JavaScript library. All it takes is a little bit of know-how and you're creating barcodes in very little time!

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FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Pro has a wonderful PDF generator. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of using FileMaker for the purpose of output is that you can make any layout look exactly how you'd like and with a few script steps, you've got PDF output which will fit 95% of the situations you'll come across.

There are, however, certain situations where knowing how to generate a PDF using JavaScript, from within a Web Viewer, will give you the exact results you're looking for.

There are a number of advantages with this approach. First, it can be SUPER fast when generating the PDF and second, you can selectively decide what you want to output from within the whole of your HTML. So, if you're using HTML to present a lot of information, but only want a PDF of a portion of that HTML, then you can certainly accomplish that with this technique.

Even if you don't need the exact functionality of HTML -> PDF output there's a lot to learn from this video if you've never used JavaScript in order to call a FileMaker script and pass in some data.

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FileMaker Magazine

While FileMaker's own Layout Mode provides excellent tools for formatting data for display and output, it isn't always the most convenient for certain types of output. A prime example is a pivot table. Or, the output of data which is normally columnar formatted into a horizontal format.

When attempting to do this with native FileMaker functionality, it quickly becomes a bit of a hassle, typically including more relationships than should be otherwise necessary.

There are solutions which can make use of repeating horizontal fields, but these typically have a hard limit and the width of the data does not dictate the largest column width. If you work creatively with HTML/CSS and the other available features within FileMaker, you can realize a more flexible solution for horizontal data display and output!

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FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker 16's new Card Windows have opened the flood gates for all kinds of new methods for presenting information. Not least of which are your common dialogs and wizards. But, what about using them for navigation? Why not?

In fact, you'll find so many benefits from using a Card Window, for the purpose of navigation, you may think it makes little sense to use anything else. Especially, when you want the navigation to both hide and reveal as needed.

In this video, we walk through a wonderful technique of using a Card Window for the purpose of sidebar navigation. Not only does it blend in well with the user interface but it retains which menus were collapsed and which were expanded. It works in both Form view and List view. Overall, it's one of the best methods you can choose for solution navigation if you're using FileMaker 16 or later.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.


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FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker 16's new Card Windows have opened the flood gates for all kinds of new methods for presenting information. Not least of which are your common dialogs and wizards. But, what about using them for navigation? Why not?

In fact, you'll find so many benefits from using a Card Window, for the purpose of navigation, you may think it makes little sense to use anything else. Especially, when you want the navigation to both hide and reveal as needed.

In this video, we walk through a wonderful technique of using a Card Window for the purpose of sidebar navigation. Not only does it blend in well with the user interface but it retains which menus were collapsed and which were expanded. It works in both Form view and List view. Overall, it's one of the best methods you can choose for solution navigation if you're using FileMaker 16 or later.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.


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FileMaker Magazine

Managing user accounts within FileMaker is pretty easy and straight forward. This, however, is an aspect of access control which only applies to what a user can do within the world of FileMaker's interface.

When it comes to your own solution's user interface, it doesn't exist until you create it. And, of course, FileMaker knows nothing about what you create. It's just a tool. This means it's up to you to add your own security controls.

In order to do this, you need to take advantage of all of FileMaker's security controls. Once you understand how to use these controls, you can create an access system which has various levels of access and allows some users to advance or reduce the access of other users. If you have a database which needs to have managers, employees and various levels of access then you need to watch this video.

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FileMaker Magazine

In the world of serialized data, there's only been a few key technologies and XML was certainly the forerunner. It's been around since the mid 90's and was originally added into FileMaker around version 5 - if memory serves. The implementation of XML/XSLT/XPATH wasn't fully complete with compatible functions and it only works as an import and export feature via the use of an XSLT style sheet.

Learning XSLT and XPATH weren't the easiest things to do and as computing moved forward, so did other technologies. Now, with JSON and JavaScript taking the programming world by storm, we have a new method of serialization and this one is baked into FileMaker.

So, these days, you have the choice of learning xpath and using a plug-in in order to extract data out of XML or you can just convert it into a format such as JSON for simply pulling the data out using FileMaker 16's new JSON functions. With this technique file, and video, you'll be well on your way to extracting data out of XML files if you need to do so.

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FileMaker Magazine

Hacking away at FileMaker objects seems to be the theme for a few of my most recent videos. In this video, I'm back at it and hacking again on Tab Panels. These ever so useful layout objects allow you to show a ton of information on screen by allowing users to reveal what's important to them when they want to see it.

Through understanding how individual layout objects are composed, we can take a crack at customizing them in ways in which are not current possible - at least not through FileMaker's inspector palette.

And so, a handy little tool is born for performing a simple little task. Making iOS-looking native FileMaker tab panels.

If you're creating any type of solution for iOS and using either FileMaker Go or the iOS SDK for FileMaker, then this video will help you make your FileMaker user interface that much sweeter!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.


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FileMaker Magazine

One of the most wonderful things about FileMaker 16's release were Card Windows. While we've been able to create new windows for quite some time, the number of controls afforded those windows was limited. With card windows we can now present those windows within the main window. This provides for any other context than the current context.

You can show related records or completely unrelated records. The great thing about the card window is, like all windows, it can use any of the 3 possible views FileMaker provides. Need a list? Use List View. Need a form? Use Form View.

And, once the window is shown, it can present any number of records. In particular, it can show a related set of data which needs to be processed. The only thing missing is a progress bar to indicate the status of the processing of said records.

No problem, we'll just build the feature directly into our card window. That's what this video is all about. Using a card window in order to process a related set of records.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.


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FileMaker Magazine

While creating videos on my YouTube channel for my beginner/intermediate series of videos, a viewer asked if I would create a video about migrating from using Serial values as primary/foreign keys to using UUID key values.

The process is actually quite simple, but not so obvious when you start thinking about all the scripting you might have to do for all the various tables and connections within your solution. The benefits of switching to a UUID key based system is that you no longer have worry about duplicates with disconnected files and you also gain the piece of mind that you don't have to worry about updating the serial value every time you perform an export/import process for updating a database which is not updated directly within production.

So, in this video, I show the easiest method for moving from using serial key values to using the more modern UUID values. If you have an older FileMaker system and you'd like to update it to UUID keys, then this video should have all the info you need.

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.


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FileMaker Magazine

When FileMaker, Inc. released the new theming system for FileMaker Pro a while back, they made one of the best decisions possible for a development platform. They chose to go with an industry standard instead of rolling their own solution.

The standard they chose to use was CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). While their implementation was specific to the platform, and the whole "cascading" part didn't really apply, the choice was a good one.

Today, the upside is the fact that it's the same language of the web. The same which is used to provide ultimate control over how everything looks on a given web page. Essentially, full power and control to the designer or developer. The downside, in FileMaker's case, is they can only expose certain aspects of the CSS as their internal development resources allow. They have to keep moving the product forward in other areas as well as the user interface.

So, knowing that CSS is behind the scenes, there are certain things we can do to modify the look and feel beyond what FileMaker's Inspector palette exposes. This video is about a certain insider trick which can make your use of a company logo infinitely easier when it comes time to make a simple change down the road. Check it out!

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FileMaker Magazine

Making it easy for users to search for content is what your job is all about. If you're relying on FileMaker's default Query By Form method of searching, then many users may not know how to use the full functionality of FileMaker's search.

This is where you, as the developer, get to control how users interact with the data. By taking advantage of both FileMaker's QuickFind and the normal Query By Form, you can implement really nice features like an easy-to-use search bar.

In this video, we walk through the process of adding just such a search bar into the Custom Function database. If you're interested in learn about how you can take full control over the searching process then this video will provide you with a lot of insight!

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FileMaker Magazine

There are all kinds of methods in which you can provide visual feedback to users. You can use FileMaker's containers fields, calculation fields, and even normal text fields.

There is, however, a great way to provide the visual feedback you desire by using FileMaker's Button Bar object. You gain a lot of flexibility with this method because it's so easy to copy and paste once you've put it into your solution. By using multiple segments in the button bar, and some creative use of hiding and conditional formatting, you can achieve all kinds of cool visual indications of whatever you might want to showcase.

In this video, I walk through the process of adding some up/down arrows and show you how to take advantage of FileMaker's unique tool set in order to accomplish this useful technique.

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FileMaker Magazine

If you've been learning and using FileMaker for any amount of time, then you'll likely know that FileMaker also has access to JavaScript. It does this through the Web Viewer object which can easily be added to any layout.

For some FileMaker developer's they may answer the question of "Why don't you know/learn Javascript?" with a response of it either being too hard or not being able to take the time to learn it. It' only when FileMaker can't do what what needs to be done when some developers start to look outside of FileMaker's core set of available tools.

The cool thing about JavaScript is that like many tools, it can do a variety of things better than FileMaker alone. I've never come across a single tool which can do it all the best way possible.

If you've never implemented any JavaScript within your FileMaker solution, then this video may be the best way to start that journey. The implementation of a JavaScript based color picker is so easy you'll be craving more and more JavaScript by the end of the video. Whether you need a color picker or the ability to draw content on top of an image file, JavaScript will offer a lot more extensibility than just sticking it out with FileMaker alone!

Click the title or link to this article to view the video.


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FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker 16 introduced a new and very powerful feature. Its called Card Windows and they allow you to access a totally different context than what is currently being viewed.

If you're unfamiliar with what context is in FileMaker, then to put it plainly, it's the layout being viewed, its own associated table plus all related tables connected to that layout's table occurrence. It's what the current layout can "see" in terms of accessible data. Yep, that's a bit confusing if you're not super familiar with FileMaker. But, if you are, then congratulations, you should be able to see how powerful this new feature is.

The way FileMaker, Inc. has implemented Card Windows is a nice start. The Card Window is truly another window being drawn on the screen with the exception of being able to drag it around. It's a modal window which is typically presented within the parent of where it was created. In order to continue working in the user interface it must be dismissed. It's not quite like dynamic or context independent layout parts, but it's getting closer to the ultimate feature.

When you take the results you can get from a layout object's bounds ( its location and relative size ), using FileMaker's GetLayoutObjectAttribute function, you can put a few pieces together to make for a great windowing feature which allows you to draw a window wherever you want. This is enhanced by using the info supplied by a target layout object. It's a great feature for any solution where progressive disclosure is a desirable feature. Have too many elements and info on the screen? Use an Inline Card Window!

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FileMaker Magazine

Whether you're a hobbyist developer or a full-time professional, it's important to make sure your development environment is both stable and reliable. Unless you're in the process of learning a new environment, not that many developers are keen to spending a bunch of time re-configuring their development environment.

The worst feeling in the world, while developing, is one of instability. Having that looming fear that your application or file may crash at any time is not a happy place. It's like you're constantly looking over your shoulder waiting for the next FileMaker crash. For FileMaker development, the solution to this problem is to always develop using FileMaker Server.

When FileMaker Server is within your development environment it provides crash protection, automated backups and other learning benefits which you simply won't get if you only upload your FileMaker file to a host and simply work that way. If you're still developing locally with just a copy of FileMaker Pro Advanced then this video should be especially appealing.

Also, if you're a developer on-the-go and you can't be tied to a local network, and may not have WAN access, then running a local FileMaker Server is a great solution. One possible issue is that FileMaker Server has be structured for a production environment and not for a development. You can, however, with a few setup changes, make your local development machine use FileMaker Server in order to facilitate the ideal development environment.

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