FileMaker Wishlist Web/Tech

Could FileMaker Talk to Google and Mapquest?


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.

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!

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.

3 replies on “Could FileMaker Talk to Google and Mapquest?”

This question isn’y getting the Mapquest in a new IE window. That’s the easy part. The more difficult part is getting the map into your database were you can control how it prints, and where it can be used without a network connection.
To do this you could use Mapquest XML Web service, too bad they want $5,000 for the service, so the rest of use are left to using others options.
The easy way out is to submit your request via http, and then have Troi Web capture the resulting text into a global, there you can then parse out the resulting session key, whicj you will need to pass again to to navigate to the ‘print’ latout. Now you have HTML for a page with two banners and your map as a GIF. Another set of calcs and you can parse just the URL of the image of the map, so if you use OPEN URL, you will get just the map- no logos, no banners, no anything.
My next step was to use HTTrack to use that image URL and downlaod the file, just as a user might do through the ‘Save Image As’ command. My problem was that Mapquest has a anti-bot routine that I have yet to be able to get around, so I transfered my code to Microsoft map source, and finally I am storing map images in my database, so if I wanted to print the map on my user’s to-do list and/or if I wanted to include my company logo and other database images/text, I’m free to design attrctive layouts which include map data.
I’ve spent a bunch of time working this problem and I would be intersted to hear how other people have dealt with this issue.

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