Monthly Archives: November 2006

Address Book Manipulator Looks Good

Address_book_manipulator

Productive Computing has just released version 2 of their Address Book Manipulator plug-in. They’ve done a lot of work to make it easy for the rest of us to talk to Address Book from our FileMaker databases. With the help of this plug-in, you can push a record to address book and you can pull an Address Book record into FileMaker.

One of the buttons available on the Pull tab is All Contacts. That lets you pull every Address Book entry you have into the demo FileMaker file. With the demo! I just imported all 1588 Address Book entries I have in my Address Book into the demo file. I could now import this data into the FileMaker file of my choosing.

That’s great for starters. But the most important functionality here is that you can keep the two in sync by moving data from Address Book to FileMaker or FileMaker to Address Book depending on where you happen to enter the data first.

Because Productive’s plug-in is probably written in a low-level language like C, performance is, as they say, lightning fast. Also, I’m running on a MacBook so I am also getting the benefit of the fact that this is a Universal plug-in that works optimally on both PowerPC and Intel processors.

Here’s the link for their press release dated November 7.

The Plug-in is selling for $60 for a single-user license, $270 for a 5-user license and $432 for a 10-user license. If you have a mission-critical FileMaker application in your company or work group that includes a contacts table and you are Mac-based, Address Book Manipulator v2 could be just what you need.

A free demo version of the plug-in is available with a full-access demo FileMaker file that can push and pull data and demonstrate various additional functions including search. I’m using it right now.

Here is what the relationships graph looks like. On the left is a *viewer* table and on the right is the *data* table where the contacts are stored in flat records.

Ab_manipulator_rel_graph

I Love FileMaker 8.5 Tab Controls

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Yes. I know Tab Controls were released in FileMaker 8. But, without a Go to Object command and other niceties like the GetLayoutObjectAttribute function, they weren’t ready to replace all tabs all the time.

Many of you might still cling to your homemade tabs. Not me. I’ve committed 100% to tab controls to handle all (well almost all) of my tabbing needs.

You can make fancy fake tabs and use any graphics you want for the tabs. But that’s so FileMaker 7 of you. The problem is fake tabs are not end-user friendly. They aren’t even developer friendly in my opinion.

Instead, use tab controls. They can look pretty boring by default. But take away some of the old-fashioned styling and they become elegant. Native vs. bolted on. Native looks better my friends. Since most of my customers are designers, I pay close attention to ways to make my UI look better.

Tab controls can be used to simplify. Compare the default User tab above to the Admin tab below. Users, even Admin people, don’t need to see all the information all the time (Keep in mind that there are other fields on the screen. The user is just not being bothered with all the information as he or she uses the database).

Admin_tab

Tab controls are revolutionary because they let our users customize their own interface. That’s heresy you say. That breaks the rules of keeping the user in his place. Yes. And that’s the wave of the future that you might want to embrace. FileMaker is the database of choice because it empowers the user.

You know that thing where everything isn’t top down. That user who is on the front lines where all the new information is. That’s the user who knows what he or she needs.

I go on about tab controls as they pertain to my Studio Manager product over on Studio Manager Bulletin. The treatment there is not very technical but is very enthusiastic. I’m thrilled to be using tab controls instead of fake tabs in my product.

One of the main features of Studio Manager is that it maximizes user customizability. Studio Manager is not a black box. Not to developers and not to users. Deal with it.