FileMaker 7 Security is Sweet

FM7_box_120px_wide.jpgAfter screwing up my courage and reviewing my error list from MetaDataMagic today, I decided to just go ahead and convert my files and see what happens. Looking at MDM’s conversion issues report and looking at my Studio Manager database, I could see that I’ll need to check a lot of things systematically but the nature of the problems is such that it might work to make the adjustments after conversion.

This breaks the general guideline suggested by FileMaker 7 migration guru, Danny Mack, but I’m planning on multiple trial conversions of my product anyway and wanted to see what would happen when I just threw the FileMaker 7 conversion switch.

First, the good news. The conversion took less than ten minutes. Nothing blew up. I didn’t need a fire extinguisher or anything. Remember, I did clean up the file references before converting and ran MetaDataMagic on my files and reviewed the error list and recommended fixes. For each recommendation, it tells you whether you should make the changes before or after you convert or that you can do it either way.

I have 4 levels of groups and passwords in my Studio Manager files. I wondered what would happen with them. My first experience was good. I was able to use my master password to get into my files after the conversion, using the master password for both the account name and the password as I had read I should. Whoopie!

My luck didn’t last long, though. When I clicked on a script-protected tab or file navigation button, I got my self-authored “sorry, access denied” message even though I was logged in with the master password. I wasn’t surprised – I wasn’t expecting miracles. I just went in and looked at my security calculations and security checking scripts looking for a culprit and couldn’t figure it out.

Next, I changed the master-access account name (formerly the group name) to “master” to match my security calculations but that didn’t work. The calculations were actually using the privilegesetname not the account name, but I was still getting my sea legs and wasn’t crystal clear on the distinction yet.

Notice that I was focusing my attention on technologies I was familiar with. Finally, I got smart and cracked open the new Define Accounts & Privileges command. There I saw what some of you already know – the master access privilegesetname is hard-coded to be “Full Access”. So I just went around and changed my security calculation fields to use Full Access instead of master and things started working!

One other little problem occurred around this. When I opened my files for the first time in FM7, I was offered the option to remember the passwords and I said yes to all. Seemed like a good idea at the time. But then I ran into the problem that I had not entered the master password in one of the files which has a special secret password and now it was set to automatically open with a lower level password by my OS X keychain.

Not to worry, I looked up keychain in the help and found the keychain entry for the file I was having a problem with and after futzing around for a while just deleted it. That worked! This time when I tried to open the file, I got an account and password prompt and could enter the high-end account and password. Good to go!

Now that I’ve conquered these little hiccups in my security learning curve, I am really getting psyched. I know how incredibly easy the keychain stuff is. Opening my FM7 Studio Manager files will be effortless. My system password protects all these saved account names and passwords along with all the other passwords I have. Thanks, FileMaker Inc., for making your password and privileges system compatible with the OS X keychain! FileMaker Inc. is owned by Apple, so I guess it’s about time, but thanks anyway!

For years I’ve steeled myself to the fact that the password and security part of FileMaker has been convoluted and unintuitive. It was the one thing in FileMaker I hated to use. Now, even though the new FileMaker 7 security is much more powerful, it’s easy. It’s straight forward. For a FileMaker geek like me – it’s fun!

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