Category Archives: FileMaker Wishlist

FileMaker 7 Wishlist: Edit Scripts with a Text Editor

I just found out why some FileMaker developers have asked to be able to edit scripts with a text editor. I want to insert a single script step – a Set Field – into over 100 of my scripts for this project I’m working on. If those Scripts were editable in a text editor, I could do a single Find and Replace to get this done in less than a minute. But no, I’m going to spend 1-2 hours doing it one script at a time. Ouch!

FileMaker 7 Portals and Parameters

At the moment good information about FileMaker 7 real world behavior is still in short supply. One source I found recently, The Blinkerfish Logs, has a really nice post on FileMaker 7 as it pertains to portals, related records and script parameters. FileMaker heavy, Ernest Koe, has written some high quality stuff: potent, compact, important, useful information. Check it out!

FM7 Emergency Wishlist – Part 1

FileMaker 7 Conversion Needs to be Fixed

FileMaker 7.0 bears a lot of resemblance to OS X 10.0. When you have a total rewrite like I’ve heard that FileMaker 7 is, you don’t get everything on day one. It just doesn’t happen. My Emergency Wishlist series will focus on the most striking missing features in FileMaker 7.

Without a doubt, the biggest missing is a more robust and full-featured conversion capability. I don’t really care how this is addressed as long as it is addressed.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that when you convert a group of interrelated FileMaker 6 or earlier files, you don’t have the option to put them all in a single file. When you convert 16 files, you get 16 files. Each with one table in it.

A major benefit of FileMaker 7 is that you can have multiple tables in a single file. You can work more efficiently this way for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into here.

There are many other smaller conversion issues that can present problems for you. The worst is that scripts can break or produce disastrous unexpected results like deleting records that should not be deleted. This is such a fearsome possibility, that anyone who reads the Getting Started manual or otherwise finds out that FM7 migration is something to be careful about, puts testing and cataloging possible problems at the top of their migration checklist.

Third parties are working feverishly to provide utilities that will help since there are many information and utility gaps to fill. Things will get better – soon, I hope. My guess is that FileMaker Inc. is also going to help us out at some point in the next months with perhaps a more robust conversion utility or facilities that address specific migration issues.

I’ll be writing here about every major development in terms of information, tools, techniques, tips, warnings and rumors.

My Emergency Wishlist series writing is to acknowledge what’s true. To take note of the most glaring omissions in FileMaker 7 in hopes that these issues will get the attention they deserve in a timely manner. Stay tuned.

FM7 Migration Bible Available

The FileMaker consulting and development community has been waiting in anticipation for this promised tech brief from Danny Mack et. al. called FileMaker Pro 7: Migration Foundations and Methodologies (12.4 mb). I’ve been checking periodically at FileMaker Inc’s FileMaker 7 Upgrade Tech Briefs page for over a month – it was *due* in early April – and finally found it this morning.

It’s big. It’s 140 pages long plus an essential 56 page appendix called Conversion Issues and Resolutions. Right now, this is the bible for upgrading to FileMaker 7. If you have a FileMaker system that is important to you and you are thinking about upgrading, make sure that you or your consultant/in-house expert sets aside the time – and reads this.

The book is divided into three sections: Foundations, Methodologies and the Appendix. Foundations is a series of articles or chapters written by Danny Mack and other leading lights in the FileMaker community. Methodologies is less conceptual and more practical but also strategic. Here’s the Overview from the book:

FOUNDATIONS

Leveraging the Value Proposition of FileMaker Pro 7 – Michael Thompson
Michael discusses the advantages of FileMaker Pro 7 from the point of view of both developers and business owners, and addresses the strategic issues associated with migrating to this new technology, including how to recognize a return on the investment in migration.

The FileMaker 7 Relational Model – FileMaker, Inc. and Danny Mack
A fundamental article of the new relational model, including a comparison to earlier versions of FileMaker Pro, an introduction to the relationships graph, and an explanation of “context”. It illustrates the new features and the new rules with easy to follow examples.

File References in FileMaker Pro 7 – Corn Walker
File references are viewable and editable in FileMaker Pro 7 and the issues associated with them are fundamental to getting your converted solution up and running successfully.

Scripting Issues Encountered When Migrating to FileMaker Pro 7 – Darren Terry
In converted solutions, certain scripts may not function as they did previously. Darren reviews these issues in detail so that you understand how the behavior has changed, and what to do about it.

Security and Access Privilege Issues – Steven Blackwell
Passwords and groups are converted to accounts and privilege sets, but the rules have changed. Understanding the details of access privilege conversion is essential to replicating the original behavior or extending it.

“Record Ownership” in Converted Solutions: Opening and Committing Records – Ilyse Kazar
The script steps and other events that cause records to be opened (locked) and committed (unlocked) have changed signifi cantly. This has major implications for the behavior of converted solutions as well as for new solution design.

Migration and Web Publishing – Bob Bowers
This is a primer on the realm of FileMaker 7 web publishing, including both Custom Web Publishing and the entirely new Instant Web Publishing.

METHODOLOGIES

Conversion Basics – Danny Mack
Danny presents a step-by-step orientation to the conversion process, including preparation, testing, and the necessary fundamental tasks for getting your solution “restored” to its original functionality.

Adding a New Interface File to an Existing Solution, Later Consolidating Tables – Todd Geist
How does one migrate a solution, most reliably and economically, to an optimal FileMaker Pro 7 architecture? Todd lays out a step-by-step migration strategy, including a rationale that may leave you thinking: “why would you do it any other way?”

The Separation Model: A FileMaker Pro 7 Development Model – Colleen Hammersley & Wendy King
FileMaker Pro 7 is a dream come true for those who have long advocated the separation of data and interface. Colleen and Wendy present the new application model in all its glory.

Bridging .fp5 and .fp7 – Ernest Koe
There are many real world scenarios in that it will be necessary for FileMaker Pro 7 files to exchange data with FileMaker .fp5 files. There are several technologies that make this possible.

APPENDIX

Conversion Issues & Resolutions – Team
This is the documentation of specific issues that can be encountered in solutions that have been converted to FileMaker Pro 7, and suggested resolutions (what you can do to replicate the original behavior). The issues are cross-referenced to the behavior changes in the application documented in the .pdf entitled “FM 7 Converting Databases”.

Could FileMaker Talk to Google and Mapquest?

FMGoogleMapquest

Today I was preparing a mailing to all of my FileMaker clients. I wanted to warn them about the fact that you can’t just upgrade to FileMaker 7 from previous versions without giving it a second thought. One of my customers called today and said she bought FileMaker 7 because she upgraded to OS X. I told her that she should return it because the FileMaker 6 she already had would work fine in OS X and unless she wanted to spend some money on tweeking before and after, the system I built for her was going to break in 7.

This was not the first customer doing a FileMaker 7 upgrade *on-the-fly* without consulting me first. So, to avoid further problems, I wanted to do a mailing to all my past and present FileMaker customers. Since I haven’t worked with some of my customers for few years, I don’t have all their email addresses. In many cases, their phone numbers had changed too so I couldn’t call to get their email addresses.

Google.
This is when I thought that it would be great to have a *Google* button right in my FileMaker database that could Google anyone’s full name or company name with one click. If I could do that, then the next step would be to create a script and button that could Google a set of records and return data to me on what it found. I’m guessing that I will be able to create a Google button for one person. And that’s probably as far as I’ll go for now, but if someone wanted to build a little plug-in or custom function that would Google a FileMaker Found Set and return records, I’m ready to plunk down the cash!

Mapquest.
Later, I was looking for a great restaurant to take my Dad to for his birthday. I got a good recommendation after trying Google and not really finding what I wanted with assurance it would be good. So I wanted a map for my sister and went to Mapquest. I had already entered the restaurant into my database for future reference and actually dragged the Mapquest map right into a Map field I had available in the database.

That worked, but why couldn’t I have a Mapquest button that would go to Mapquest, get the map and put it in my database for me based on the address that was in the database already? That would be so cool. In this case, if I can do it for one contact, I can definitely run a script that would put maps into every record (thousands) in my database. Learning about web services and FileMaker is starting to seem like a great idea.

Anyone want to build something like this? It’s relatively simple if Mapquest has an open API and I’m sure tons of FileMaker users would be interested.