When I was contemplating creating a FileMaker 7 version of Studio Manager, I was bummed at first that FileMaker 7 lacked transparency tools and a button tool that would make transparent buttons.
I was rewriting Studio Manager from scratch and didn’t have investment capital. So I decided to postpone doing any kind of OS X-look makeover until FileMaker came up with the transparency tools I wanted for the job.
I like doing my layout graphics in native FileMaker as much as possible because I want it to be easy for my customers to customize that interface. To me, FileMaker is all about customizing. It’s the tool that lets the user control his own destiny.
So, mostly, I’ve copy and pasted layout objects from my *old* Studio Manager interface into FileMaker 7 and made a few changes to get the effect I was looking for. And, the truth is, it looks pretty good! I experimented with some of the layout objects that FileMaker Inc. put into their templates and have just recently reverted the UI back to my OS9 tabbed look.
Obviously, OS 9 is history, but those tabs were great in their time. This screenshot here doesn’t do the look justice because it’s a low-bit graphic. But what FileMaker 7 brings to the party is full use of the excellent graphics and font rendering in OS X. I hate looking at FileMaker 6 apps anymore. It’s amazing how the subtleties of shading make so much difference. Just by moving to FileMaker 7, I have a better-looking product. It bought me some time.
So I’m waiting for some transparency support in FileMaker layout tools before I really do a makeover. And my clients will do just fine in the meantime. By the way, if anyone in the FileMaker 3rd Party tools community wants to add some graphics tools or even just layout objects to the party, I’m sure many developers and consultants would jump.
Last fall, I purchased OSX Templates Set from Jon Mark Osborne for $29.99 – it’s a nice start for smaller systems. You get full access and can take it apart and see how he achieves the effects he does. The set includes graphics files with pieces you can combine to make buttons of different sizes – it’s quite cool. But I felt that the scope of Studio Manager required a bigger tool set. I’m a developer now and I want native tools not just graphic pieces I can combine.
I want to go on record as saying that I love the look you get right out of the box with FileMaker 7. All you have to do is open a file in 7 or create one from scratch and it looks better than anything we ever did in 6. And, of course, I am looking forward to native and easy to use tools in future versions of FileMaker that let me create layouts, tabs and buttons that feel like they were meant for OS X.