Category Archives: Books

Book Alert: Using FileMaker 7

UsingFileMaker7BookWe’ve got a bible – a big one – for FileMaker 7. And it’s for the Intermediate-Advanced crowd this time! The full book title is Special Edition Using FileMaker 7 by Steve Lane, Bob Bowers, Scott Love and Chris Moyer. I got it at the Developer’s Conference for $35 ($44.99 list). If you buy from Amazon without thinking, you might pay the full list price. But, if you click the used & new link, you can get a brand new copy for about $30.

This thing has 1082 pages and is at least 2 inches thick. On the accompanying CD, you get 40 sample database files and the entire book as a searchable pdf!!!! What a great idea for a big, heavy reference book. Now I’ll have this amazing reference and learning tool with me wherever I take my Powerbook.

UsingFM7_pdf_big

As many of you know, Chris Moyer has peerless credentials as a FileMaker book author and consultant. Bob Bowers collaborated with Chris recently on the excellent Advanced FileMaker Pro 5.5 Techniques for Developers and also wrote Advanced FileMaker 6 Web Development with Steve Lane.

This is not a sexy book, but it’s solid, well-illustrated and well-written. It’s written by people whose reputations are on the line. People who had to take the time to learn 7 well enough to address FileMaker 7 in all its glory. A big undertaking.

I’ll just give you a sampling from their tips, notes and cautions:

When you first start sketching your ERD, you might just be scribbling on the back of an envelope. But sooner or later, especially for large projects, you’ll want to turn your ERD into an electronic document of some kind. We recommend you find a suitable tool for doing this. If you want to go with a dedicated diagramming tool, Visio is popular for the PC platform, and on the Mac, OmniGraffle is an excellent tool. But if you don’t want to spring for (or worse, spend time learning) a new tool, well, FileMaker’s Layout Mode also makes a great ERD tool! It’s easy to whip up a small library of ERD adornments and cut and paste them where needed. That way, each of your Filemaker Solutions can contain its own ERD, squirreled away in a a hidden layout somewhere. p. 149

You might be wondering how to create a multiple-match relationship that works if any of the criteria are true, as opposed to those that work only if all the criteria are true. This isn’t possible, unfortunately. p. 186

Be aware that the only fields you can use from an unrelated table are those with global storage. There’s no way FileMaker could determine which record(s) to reference for non-globally stored fields…. p. 218

If you have a large group of employees all starting on the same date, the account status feature allows the database administrator to set up all the accounts in advance without activating them. After the employees start, all that needs to be done is to set the account status to Active. p. 325

At least for now, this is the FileMaker 7 bible. Now, all we need is a companion book that focuses primarily on the tips, hints, tricks and gotchas. Because there is so much to do to just cover this product set, there’s not as much room as I would like for commentary. Still, an incredible bargain and tool for you today!

Book Alert: Learn FileMaker Pro 7

Learn FM7 bookThis is the first book I’ve seen that actually covers advanced topics in some depth. List priced at $36.95, it’s available at Amazon for $25.13. It just barely exceeds their free shipping threshold so you can get it pretty quickly without paying extra for shipping.

Here’s the scoop. It’s level is listed as “introductory to advanced.” If you are on the advanced end of the scale, you can scan and skim the introductory material looking for the *good stuff* like explanations of more advanced new features, gotcha warnings and relational design concepts. I’ve got a text file going so I can make some notes on the good stuff for future posts here.

The book is 515 pages in all – and those are densely packed with information including a good index, a glossary and questions at the end of each chapter with answers in the back of the book. The teaching-effectiveness-quotient of the book is upped a few notches by the able assistance of Nonie Bernard, director of curriculum development for FMPtraining – one of the very best FileMaker training outfits.

I love the fine balance they’ve struck between advanced and beginner. That’s a tough proposition but they’ve made some of the tougher subjects seem easy. I’m betting that more of you are in the intermediate to advanced level than beginner, so will address the advanced coverage next.

There’s a lot of advanced content in this book! They devote page 88 – 134 to “Working with Related Tables”. That’s not a cursory glance like you see in a lot of FileMaker books. Calculations are covered in three chapters from page 181 to 227. Scripting is 230 to 263. There are brief sections on XML (9 pages) and Conversion Issues (8 pages).

Overall. If you need to know FileMaker 7 now, get this book. This could be a great primer for you if you are going to the FileMaker Developer’s conference on August 29th. You’ll know what the heck people are talking about and get more out of the conference – which will be full of FileMaker 7 content.

First Available FileMaker 7 Book

SamsTeachYourselfFM7in24hrsOK. I ordered my first FileMaker 7 book tonight from Amazon: Sams Teach Yourself FIleMaker in 24 Hours by Jesse Feiler. They are saying it is available and in stock now! There’s one review at Amazon from an experienced FileMaker user and she is quite positive about the book. Kinda doesn’t matter to me. It’s a FileMaker 7 book. I want it. Damages only $16.99.

By the way, Feiler has written lots of Macintosh books and two FileMaker books including one on scripting and calculations. I take that to mean he’s a pretty good writer and knows enough FileMaker to provide value.

I plan to buy several FileMaker 7 books. And a bunch are in the works. I’ll be writing more about books soon.