Category Archives: Web/Tech

OSX Lion + FileMaker, Not Yet

Don’t upgrade to OS X Lion until FileMaker Inc. releases a compatibility update to FileMaker 11.

FileMaker Pro 11 is the only version that FileMaker Inc. plans to certify for Lion. If you are using an earlier version of FileMaker (prior to 11), don’t upgrade to Lion unless you see enough evidence out in the world or with your own safe experiments to determine that your FileMaker database(s) will run OK in that version of FileMaker under Lion. If you do run into a problem, you’ll be on your own.

Here is the word directly from one of FileMaker Inc.’s support pages:

FileMaker is excited about the powerful features in OS X Lion and iOS 5. We are committed to be compatible with the latest Apple operating systems and the shipping versions of FileMaker products will be updated to support OS X Lion and iOS 5.

Since FileMaker 8 is a PowerPC app, it will not run under OS X Lion at all due to the lack of support in Lion for Rosetta. FileMaker 8 and any earlier versions of FileMaker will not run under Lion.

FileMaker Pro 8 Get Info

Speculation:

There’s a pretty good chance that FileMaker 8.5 – 10 will work using FileMaker files on their own or as guests (with some minor bugs). There’s less of a chance that you could have a machine running Lion hosting filemaker files or older versions of FileMaker Server hosting files from a Lion machine. This is how it went with Snow Leopard anyway.

People will certainly try things with Lion and experiment if they have an irresistible Lion feature they want to use. Keep an eye out for findings. I will post what I find to this blog.

Useful FileMaker Blog for You to Check Out

Mikhail

I discovered a new FileMaker blog today that looks good. I’ll probably have some more soon as I search for what’s available these days. This FileMaker blog is called Bits and Pieces and it is written by Mikhail Edoshin who has been a FileMaker developer for about 8 years. The photo here is of Mr. Edoshin.

At first glance, Mikhail’s blog seems to mainly have explanatory posts about various FileMaker calculations. But, there are some longer articles if you go back a little ways. The post I found most useful was called FileMaker field naming conventions written on November 6, 2005. Mikhail says that he’s tried very complex naming schemes in the past but has decided that simple, natural-sounding field names like First Name are better than the coded ones. He explains why.

A couple other posts I thought looked especially interesting were Merge Expressions and Custom functions to simplify reading the current state of modifier keys.

All of this content is valuable and should be on your required reading list if you are a FileMaker developer or intermediate to advanced user. The value a developer like Mikhail can add is all the real-world, in the field detail and context that isn’t provided in the online help or user manual.

Instead of merely responding to a filemaker forum question, a FileMaker blogger is choosing among his wide experience and picking something he thinks is worth sharing with a wider audience. Generally speaking, you can expect the shared item will have value to the community whereas a forum question might apply to only a few other FileMaker folks.

These experience-based reports and explanatory articles are really valuable. At minimum, they (1) give you a different slant on something you’ve read before, (2) remind or introduce you to functions and aspects of FileMaker development that you may not have found or thought about on your own and (3) provide extra commentary based on road-testing in the real world.

Blogs can add a lot to the FileMaker community. And some FileMaker developers, who may have previously relied on static web pages are, like Mikhail, have started blogging. Blogs, comprised of chronological posts, are convenient to create and operate, tell users what is most current, have great automatic archiving features and are linkable by post rather than whole web page.

A blog is much easier to maintain, gives you more Google juice due to the metadata it provides automatically and offers the ability for users to interact via comments. While providing a great service, Mr. Edoshin also introduces himself to colleagues and prospective clients. Speaking for myself, blogging is a great way to contribute and participate in the FileMaker community and incidentally gets the word out about you and your FileMaker business.

Prior to establishing Bits and Pieces in September, Mikhail created a website in 2000 that was devoted to filemaker. Some of that material may be migrated over to the blog over time but I wasn’t clear that any has been migrated so far. If you would like to take a look a Mikhail’s previous contributions about FileMaker, check out his Onega Software: FileMaker from the other side website.

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Address Clairvoyance and List Controls in FileMaker 8

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Even though I knew in theory that clairvoyance and value list controls in FileMaker 8 were cool, it wasn’t until I started tinkering with my address entry fields in Studio Manager that I found out how cool.

The thing about address fields is that everyone has them. Which of those fields can benefit from clairvoyance and list controls? I experimented with it and submitted my findings on my Studio Manager Bulletin blog. These checkbox features are just the kind of thing my clients can implement for themselves.

I’m sure you couldn’t justify putting a value list on the zip code field in a lot of situations. But in a place where most business comes from just a few zip codes like in a major city, this might have some value.

By the way, the arrows and clairvoyance disappear seamlessly when you access the file using FileMaker 7. These 2 features are 7-Safe.

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I’m Reworking My Format

Hi all. Just wanted to let you know that the formatting for FileMaker Fever is temporarily in flux. I had been using a custom design but TypePad now allows me to use all of its make-it-dead-easy features and then customize on top of that – which gives me what I’ve been asking for. Full customizability without losing all the ease of use I signed up for.

This is one of TypePad’s new themes called April — I’m changing the colors a bit to give it a little more weight. I was looking for a theme with a white center column to match all my previously formatted graphics. I kind of like blue for this to compliment FileMaker’s blue. But I like dotted link underlines which I’ve added and prefer Georgia to the Times Roman default. And wanted a little larger type with more space. Now I just need to eliminate the underlines in the side column links.

I plan to customize further to get exactly what I want. However, the documentation is sparse so it may take a little while. Fiddling with the CSS is fun but I can never remember the exact syntax since I only use it every few months. I just customized the Studio Manager Bulletin theme to my satisfaction. This one is improving.

Luckily, TypePad’s support team provide a personal touch that fills the gaps when you get stuck and have a specific question. All I had to do was load the generic style sheet for April and then copy any pieces of it that I wanted to change to the Custom CSS entry box. Then I’ve been making little tweaks and previewing until I get what I am looking for. It’s easy people. Let’s see some more FileMaker bloggers out there!

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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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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.

How to get 6 with FileMaker 7

Little Known Fact Department

Those ordering FileMaker 7 can get a FileMaker 6 installation CD and installation codes as a free add-0n by making a request that FileMaker 6 be included so that they can gradually migrate to 7 and run FileMaker Pro 6 until they are ready to switch completely to 7.

fmp6 box smallI haven’t tried this request yet, so I don’t know all the particulars. But I’ve been assured by multiple parties that it works. Individual product purchases and upgrades may not be covered. Volume licenses are covered. It appears that the only way you get this deal is when you buy direct from FileMaker Inc.

If you have any question about your readiness for 7 and you don’t already have FileMaker Pro 6, buy yourself some extra flexibility. You don’t have to choose between 6 or 7. Get both. Purchasing 6 without 7 makes no sense and, at this point, purchasing 7 without 6 makes equally little sense.

FileMaker Pro 7.0 (please note the “.0”) is a new, complex product with immature support around it. As with any product upgrade of this magnitude, it has more bugs, limitations and rough edges than it will have once it is subjected to the scrutiny and demands of early adopters. This is not meant as criticism. FileMaker 7 is surprisingly useable and reliable – already. But, if you have a mission critical application, it’s too early in FileMaker 7’s product life-cycle to be switching over.

Anyone with a significant investment in FileMaker who is eager to gain the benefits of 7 should be working on migration preparation and planning, experimenting with FileMaker 7 development while still relying on FileMaker 6 for anything you depend on.

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”.