Monthly Archives: August 2005

FIleMaker 8: New Debugging Tools

Besides an improved debugger in FileMaker 8 Advanced, you now have two new tools in your debugging toolbox: Script Disabling and Data Viewer.

Script Disabling. I frequently have wanted something like this in longer scripts. When I’m working on a problem in one part of the script, I want the script to just run the part I am working on. Now that’s easy by just disabling the lines I don’t want to run with the Disable button in the Script Edit dialog box.

Data Viewer. This viewer makes it super easy to see what your script is doing – exactly. You can view the contents of any fields you want as the script goes through its paces.

Good stuff. FileMaker 8 Advanced is a must have for anyone who is developing a FileMaker database with any significant level of complexity at all. I consider the upgrade price of $299 to be a steal. But if you are someone who is developing databases, the very best way to get it is to become a FileMaker Solutions Alliance member and get it plus the regular version of FileMaker 8 as a benefit of membership.

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FileMaker 8 and 8 Advanced Released: Hugely Rock

Filemaker8 Box

Unbelievably better than I was expecting. FileMaker 8 has all sorts of advantages that will make me able to create better applications faster. I am at the developer’s conference and just saw the announcement at the Keynote presentation. We got to see the product and the Advanced version which also ships today. Every attendee received a copy of 8 as we left the keynote.

I just installed it at the break and have a conference session in a minute. Here are a few quick highlights that are going to rock my world:

1. The new tabs feature will help me greatly reduce the number of layouts in Studio Manager and any other FileMaker applications I build.

2. I can now copy and paste fields and scripts to other tables and files. This is huge.

3. New script variables will be very handy allowing me to create counters and other scripting variables on the fly without cluttering up my field definitions with script-specific, temporary fields.

4. I can customize the menus of my applications with extreme ease and organization. There will be no reason NOT to customize those menus, so it will become commonplace in FileMaker Apps [FM8 advanced].

5. There are many more things I can do with calculations. Including specify paths and file names.

6. I can decorate and organize the database graph.

7. Tool tips which can be hard-coded with specific text or be dynamically created based on calculations and related information.

8. Being able to suppress the view of codes in value lists. I can now show a value list that says Oregon, Washington, California instead of OR Oregon, WA Washington and CA California. And, more importantly, the field I show on the screen afterwards can just say California even though I also stored CA in the code field behind the scenes. Finally, we can please the user’s reasonable request and still get the data integrity we need.

The implications of having the above capabilities available are awesome. There’s more but I’m at the conference and have to get back to my lunch!

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Getting Ready for FileMaker Devcon

Desertridgepalmsandpools

Yay! it is almost time to fly off to sunny Phoenix, AZ for devcon. I just put up 41 photos from last year’s conference over at Flickr. If you want to see what you are missing or can look forward to, have a look. When I looked at them I got even more excited. Except for moderate weather, Desert Ridge has it all.

These were taken either before the conference got started or in the evening in a spare moment. I never actually photographed the conference events themselves. I was way too busy gathering information and talking to people to play photographer.

Last year was my chance to learn as much as I possibly could about FileMaker 7. This year will be a big learning opportunity too, but I’m expecting it to be a little less mind-bending. The most crazy it could get is if FileMaker 8 gets released and people start trying to master that in 3 days.

This time I’m vowing to be moderate. That’s hard because almost every minute is packed with some kind of opportunity. During the breaks there’s more to learn and more people to meet. My salvation may be in getting into the pool every day and not staying up all hours partying with FileMaker attendees playing old time rock and roll. You almost have to go into training ahead time to handle these conferences.

I hope to be selective in attending sessions because there are about 7 or 8 a day for 3 days straight and you just cannot absorb that much information non-stop. Instead, I’ll take some breaks to research things at the vendor booths and hang out with my fellow Filemaker professionals.

Besides meeting people from all over the world, I especially hope to meet a few who have customers in the creative services industry where I work. It used to be that most FileMaker consultants worked in this area, but now that FileMaker is cross-platform, every industry is represented. And FileMaker consultants in less populated areas, tend to have really broad and mixed practices.

Looking at ll those photos from last year reminds me how fancy that resort really is. It’s deluxe!

Devcon Sunset

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FileMaker Developer’s Conference Coming Aug 28

Desert Ridge

I just booked my flight to Phoenix today. I’ll be arriving on Sunday afternoon and leaving Wednesday night. The conference is held at the excellent JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. A gorgeous luxury hotel with lots of pools and palm trees.

Yes. Daytime highs will probably average 105 degrees. It will be scorching hot. You can’t plan on exercising outdoors during the heat of the day unless you go swimming. But, there is a nice big exercise room with a lot of machines which I managed to avoid last year.

Swimming is a must. Ideally two or three times a day. The water temperature is just right – not too cold or too warm. There are a variety of pools. Water is everywhere as a compensation for how hot and dry it is.

The resort is across the street from a mall which is handy for shopping, movies and a good bookstore (it’s either Borders or Barnes & Noble). A shuttle operates frequently to take you to and from the mall which isn’t a bad idea during the day unless you’ve got a water bottle and are ready for some heat.

Then there’s the conference itself. They do a first class job. Presenter (and attendee) knowledge of FileMaker 7 will now be deep and full of real world experience.

Three or four sessions run concurrently throughout the day with room for seven 1.25 hour sessions a day! Brain death is always a danger at these things. If you don’t like one session, you can try another or sometimes spending time one-on-one with another attendee or chatting with vendors is even more valuable.

As usual we’ll be filled in on what’s next for FileMaker at the 2 hour keynote on Monday morning and, if like last year, a special FileMaker Solutions Alliance meeting for FSA members only Monday night. If you are coming and want to say hi, just leave me a message and your room number and we can find a time to meet.

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