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Narrow vs. Wide Tables

Like any good craftsperson, you should know your tools and your methods for accomplishing things in the most efficient and best performing way. This is always most obvious when it comes to that every slowing FileMaker solution which started out innocently as a simple "helper" database. Then... it ended up being used for all kinds of things. Critical things even! It was thrown together based on how you mentally "see" the data and not how the data should have been structured. This is one of those

Extracting PDF Contents

It seems like it's taken decades for many businesses and government agencies to move from pushing paper into the digital age of transactions. Recently, I was reminded of this by heading into town hall and having to push a bit of paper myself. Banks and other financial institutions still actually offer paper options surprisingly. I guess being in the world of tech comes with its own biases. But, despite the seemingly slow adoption, the migration is still happening and more and more things are goi

Understanding External Authentication

Even if it's not a super interesting topic, and really only applies if you're managing a FileMaker server, it always pays to know how things work behind the scenes. If you've never used FileMaker's external authentication via LDAP then you'll want to watch this particular video. If you're creating any type of FileMaker solution which needs to know when your users both enter and exit the system, which especially applies to using external authentication, then you'll enjoy the super simple access

Migrating Themes

Recently, having had a conversation with a fellow developer about a FileMaker theme potentially causing issues with slow performance, it was asked about how it's possible to update a theme. Whether you simply want to update existing styles and/or remove and add others, there's only a few critical things you need to remember about updating and migrating a theme. If you can get those few things right, then making any number of updates to your existing theme can be quite easy to accomplish. The g

Customized PDF Output

FileMaker has had the ability to use an internal PDF writer since version 8. It has, however, not always had the ability to merge multiple PDFs into one master and make this work as seamlessly as possible. Being able to do this server side is a really BIG benefit! In this video, we take a look at a subscriber's question about a particular printed layout issue in conjunction with taking advantage of FileMaker's best possible output options. With the ability to Save Records As PDF we can certainl

Successful UI Design - Part 2

FileMaker themes are simply a collection of the popular CSS standards plus a few extra attributes which are FileMaker specific. Each element on your FileMaker layouts is defined by these CSS settings. They can be seen when extracting them from the clipboard, and if you know the right location to retrieve and store them, can be defined by any enthusiastic developer. When FileMaker, now Claris, first introduced themes they likely had the intention of allowing users and/or third parties to create

Successful UI Design

How easy is it for you to design the user interface of your FileMaker database? Are there any tips you have which makes the process easier? If so, then I would love to hear them! In this video, I'm providing you with the best information I have about a successful UI design process. It's the opening video to a deep dive about how themes actually work within FileMaker. I start with a blank layout and go over the major areas of what I consider when starting the design of a new database or a re-ski

Catching Duplicates with Validation

One of the best feelings for any database developer is knowing that duplicate data simply can't sneak into your solution. You've got clean data such that when you search for a specific email address you know there's only one and it belongs to the right entity. In the associated video and sample file you'll get all the details for how you can use FileMaker's Unique value validation option. You'll see how you can prevent FileMaker from showing it's annoying dialog box which uses the name of the f

Securing QR Barcodes

Pretty much all over the world you'll find technology which can scan barcodes. Smartphones with cameras just waiting to scan either their very first, or even their 1000th barcode scan. With just over a decade since the first iPhone came out, it's pretty hard to not find a use case where a barcode can help you retire some antiquated manual process. Barcodes can be used almost anywhere to make faster and/or easier solutions. Given that FileMaker Go supports all major barcode types, you simply nee

Case Sensitive Searching

Out of the box, FileMaker is a really easy solution for inputing data and simply finding the results you want when searching that data. There are, however, times when you need to break away from FileMaker's "solve all" solution of case insensitive searching. Times where you simply want to present some data within your user interface - without setting up extra relationships or fields. Or, those times when you simply need to search based on the case sensitivity of the data within a field. In ord

Native Web Scraping with JavaScript

Some of my most favorite moments, when working with technology, are when you see the result of a few lines of code do what used to take hours and hours of work. Seeing the fruits of knowledge labor which replaces a lot of manual labor. It's glorious! The example I'm mentally referencing is any time you need to extract some content from a web page and it's literally SITTING RIGHT THERE in front of your face and you end up using your precious time doing the good old copy and paste. Every day the

Card Window Progress Bars ( updated )

Who doesn't want to know how long something takes? It's not like we, as the busy bees we are, have all the time in the world - right? Well, how about some convenient progress information. One of the most common procedures within all of computing is to cycle or iterate over a set of something. In FileMaker, this comes in the form of records. A record loop is one of the most common things you'll ever do within FileMaker. Setting a field value to something else across a range of records? You'll l

Execute FileMaker Data API

FileMaker Pro provides a variety of methods for extracting your data from its database. From memory, we have standard relationships and calculated concatenations, the Copy All Records script step, scripted data loops and using the ExecuteSQL function. In FileMaker 19, we're provided with yet one more method for pulling data out of the system. The Execute FileMaker Data API script step allows us to use what was formerly available only from outside of FileMaker Pro via a url. Now, within our scri

Server Side Importing

There's a great feeling about writing functional code when it's something you can rely on. You know it's just going to work. Which, for some import routines, doesn't always feel this way. Sometimes the import may fail or you can't figure out how to make it work. Columns may get renamed, they may be shifted around and vary or you may be importing from multiple different providers. If you're consolidating data from multiple sources or you have a situation where you need to manipulate the data bef

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

12 Tips for Developing in FileMaker Pro

Every trade has its own tips for making your work go faster or happen more easily. During this holiday season I thought it would be great to bring you 12 Tips of Developing in FileMaker Pro. So, I opened FileMaker and stared at the blank screen of a new file thinking about the things that tend to help me out the most. I pulled down a CSV file from Data.gov and just let the tips flow out from there. I hope, with this list of 12 tips, you'll pick up some productivity enhancements that will carry

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

Organizing Images

With a handful of simple scripts and just a few fields, you can easily accomplish some powerful image organization both inside and outside of FileMaker. In this video, we take a look at how FileMaker can be used to organize a collection of images. This is prior to sending them out or making them available for a web server to host them. If your FileMaker solution needs to work with images used for verification or any form of media communication, then learning how you can make FileMaker bend to y

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

Validating JSON for Scripts

Using JSON for passing multiple parameters can be a real life saver. Because JSON keeps all individual parameters separate from each other, you can pass pretty much any type of data except for container data - although you can pass a reference to a container easily enough. Your parameters can also have as many levels as necessary and the JSON can easily be modified as it moves from script to script. When writing a complex and large collection of scripts, you eventually hit errors and issues. Yo

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

Simple User Messaging

FileMaker natively provides us with some really nice tools for user feedback. We can use the Show Custom Dialog or even create a dedicated dialog using a Card Window and Layout. There are, however, times when you need something a little more subtle. Just a simple message on screen will often suffice. The next question is whether you need the user to interact with that message or not. The solution is simply to provide both options of course. In this video and technique file, we explore a super

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

User Specific Preferences

The wonderful thing about creating software is it feels like you're able to create your own universe. You're the master of that universe and how it functions and reacts to its users. It's a very empowering feeling to know you can direct and control data in a way that makes it useful to others. When considering all the directions that software can take there's always that simple fact that different people like different things. Heck, someone buys the Rhubarb from the grocery store - because they

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

Advanced Portal Filtering

Portals are wonderful tools for showing related data relevant to what your solution is solving. Sometimes, however, there's a trick to getting them to show exactly what you want. The combination of functions required may not always be obvious and it can be hard to achieve the desired result. Essentially, you have to know how to extract the specific key values which allow you to filter only the desired rows. In this video, I walk through all the specifics of creating a custom function which allo

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

Restoring Deleted Records

There's this special feeling you get when developing software where you feel like you've created something magical. Sometimes, it doesn't even matter if you've done the same type of thing before. It just feels like you're the master of the universe and you've created something super useful. This may even be the case when you're simply creating a virtual trash can and providing users with the ability to reverse course on that accidental record deletion. In this video, we're taking a look at a s

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

Insert From URL cURL Options

Do you need to work with online APIs and find yourself wishing there was an easy way to accomplish it? Well, there actually is. In fact, in much of technology, there's something or someone somewhere which has likely already solved the problem. In the case of using REST (Representational state transfer) to interact with service APIs within FileMaker, it's nice to have a single tool which will handle most of the heavy work for you. When native JSON was added to FileMaker, the last piece to the pu

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

Designing with Portals

Over the years I've spent a lot of time working on a wide variety of themes for FileMaker Pro. Many of those themes involve taking advantage of every possible display mechanism which FileMaker portals offer. When getting started with creating solutions in FileMaker Pro you don't always know what you can take advantage of. When it comes to portals there are a variety of settings and theme aspects which allow you to create some really creative looks. In this video I strive to show you all those h

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

Detecting Data Changes

Here's an interesting dilemma. How do you track when specific fields are modified and adjust your JSON object so it only includes the data which was modified? Or, how about knowing when a user has modified specific fields, then having the user interface direct them down a different path than if they had modified others? In both situations, you simply need to know when a field was modified. Using the Get ( RecordModificationCount ) function we can know THAT a given record was modified and using

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

Scripting - JSON Data Writer

While working on a solution which made heavy use of an online API for REST based communication, the solution slowly revealed it had a large number of "specially dedicated" data processing scripts. Many of these scripts were quite normal in the realm of "I have some data, I want to put it into the right place." You know, your typical Go To Layout then Set Field script steps. The issue, however, was that most all of them did somewhat they same thing - a lot of code duplication. They either put th

FileMaker Magazine

FileMaker Magazine

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