FileMaker Discoveries

I Love FileMaker 8.5 Tab Controls


Yes. I know Tab Controls were released in FileMaker 8. But, without a Go to Object command and other niceties like the GetLayoutObjectAttribute function, they weren’t ready to replace all tabs all the time.

Many of you might still cling to your homemade tabs. Not me. I’ve committed 100% to tab controls to handle all (well almost all) of my tabbing needs.

You can make fancy fake tabs and use any graphics you want for the tabs. But that’s so FileMaker 7 of you. The problem is fake tabs are not end-user friendly. They aren’t even developer friendly in my opinion.

Instead, use tab controls. They can look pretty boring by default. But take away some of the old-fashioned styling and they become elegant. Native vs. bolted on. Native looks better my friends. Since most of my customers are designers, I pay close attention to ways to make my UI look better.

Tab controls can be used to simplify. Compare the default User tab above to the Admin tab below. Users, even Admin people, don’t need to see all the information all the time (Keep in mind that there are other fields on the screen. The user is just not being bothered with all the information as he or she uses the database).


Tab controls are revolutionary because they let our users customize their own interface. That’s heresy you say. That breaks the rules of keeping the user in his place. Yes. And that’s the wave of the future that you might want to embrace. FileMaker is the database of choice because it empowers the user.

You know that thing where everything isn’t top down. That user who is on the front lines where all the new information is. That’s the user who knows what he or she needs.

I go on about tab controls as they pertain to my Studio Manager product over on Studio Manager Bulletin. The treatment there is not very technical but is very enthusiastic. I’m thrilled to be using tab controls instead of fake tabs in my product.

One of the main features of Studio Manager is that it maximizes user customizability. Studio Manager is not a black box. Not to developers and not to users. Deal with it.

5 replies on “I Love FileMaker 8.5 Tab Controls”

I like tabs, but custom tabs have advantages far beyond tab controls – custom tabs can run a script upon clicking, whereas native tabs simply show you the data – With custom tabs I could trap for Privilege whereas with native tabs its THERE all the time.
You cant even put a button on top of a tab control !
Still, for some things they ARE GREAT !

William: you make good points. I wish that a tab control tab would allow me to assign a script to it or provide other controls so that we could have the best of both worlds. What is in the way, I don’t know.

Can anyone tell me how to change the name of a database from 2007 to 2008 in FileMaker 8.5? We’ve just upgraded to that version and while I don’t have any trouble updating individual records, I can’t change the name of the whole file….I’m really not challenged…just frustrated….

There is probably a way to make your filemaker file impervious to a filename change but it obviously has one or more references to itself. I’ve found in my years using FileMaker that it is wiser to accept this quirk than try to force the issue because you think FileMaker should be able to have changeable file names without a problem.
I agree that it would be helpful if FileMaker could automatically adjust to a file name change. The workatound I recommend is to keep the current file without a year reference and name archival years’ worth of data with the year. Also, if multiple years are active, a correct database practice would normally be to add a field for year and keep the data together in a single file.

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