The Support Group Blog

FileMaker Developer Conference 2019 In Review

There was something in the air during the FileMaker Developer Conference this August in Orlando, Florida. It wasn't just the thick tropical humidity and joyful shrieks of kids drifting from one of the local theme parks. It was a sense of imminent change. Another clue that something big was afoot was the absence of FileMaker, Inc. logos on any of the signage or even the DevCon lanyards that hung from the necks of all the enthusiastic conference attendees. However, all the subtle clues did little to prepare us for what was announced the evening we arrived in the dark and crowded ballroom. Indeed, nothing short of a white-haired, mad scientist and a souped-up, flame-throwing DeLorean would have given it all away. When Brad Freitag, FileMaker’s…um, Claris’s newly minted CEO announced that the company was changing its name back to what it was called twenty or so years ago and that the FileMaker Platform was gaining a brand new sibling, we were all a bit overwhelmed.

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New Features in FileMaker 18

At DevCon last year, FileMaker, Inc. (FMI) announced their initiative to identify and promote a realistic category for the FileMaker Platform. They created the category Workplace Innovation Platform because current market categorizations such as low-code, no-code, PaaSS, etc. don’t accurately describe the FileMaker Platform.

The FileMaker Platform is more than just a backend development tool. It’s actually a full-stack development platform and therefore offers features and functions that address the end-users’ needs as well as the developer’s needs. Plus, it provides services for data storage and mobility.

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FileMaker 18: Distinguish Version & Specify App at Launch

Generally, we all get excited about the major features in each new release of FileMaker. But, let's not overlook some of the minor, more obscure enhancements in FileMaker 18. As they say, the devil is in the details and so even little changes can make a huge difference. I, for one, am pleased that we're able to distinguish the product version and specify a custom app to open when the product launches.

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FileMaker 18: Save as XML

FileMaker, Inc. has given us a new XML tool to help us developers now and hopefully even more in the future! This new functionality may be confusing at first as we've had the Database Design Report (DDR) for a long time and we can save/publish that as XML too.

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Improved eMail Functionality in FileMaker 18

Our clients appreciate how easy it is to integrate email distributions within their FileMaker workflows. But, they almost always want to send HTML formatted email messages. This makes perfect sense because who among us has sent plain text email messages in the last fifteen years? Almost everyone includes some sort of signature or other fancy elements in their emails. Up until now we would just lower our eyes and tell our customers that they can't do that natively in FileMaker. We would further explain that they would need to buy a plugin in order to format their email messages in HTML. This would then elicit disbelief, disappointment and ultimately consternation from our bewildered customers. Well, those days are in the past when you upgrade to FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced. FileMaker, Inc. has given us the tools to tell our clients that they can send HTML-formatted email natively within their FileMaker application! How exactly are we going to make this happen for our customers? Well, I'll walk through how to do just that.

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File-Based Script Steps in FileMaker 18

I love it when FileMaker, Inc. releases new versions of their database tools! And, now that FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced is available, I'm still feelin' that love. There are so many new tools in 18 that allow us developers at The Support Group to enhance our customers' applications — I love exploring what can we can do and this time is no exception.

With this version, FileMaker, Inc. more than doubled the file-based script steps so now developers have 21 script steps instead of 10. All of the new steps allow us to create, read and write to and from, and manage external files. Granted, all of the functionality was available before using third-party tools (such as Troi File Plugin and the invaluable Monkey Bread Software MBS plugin), but now we can do this directly – natively – within FileMaker. Note that these new steps are probably the most complex of the new functions in FileMaker 18. Below is a list of the new steps.

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FileMaker 18: Error Logging Function

You’ve been driving your car and it’s acting funny. You keep hearing a strange noise under the hood. You take the car to your mechanic and tell him all about it. However, when you try to show him, the noise is gone. We’ve all been there. Luckily, most modern cars now have the ability to plug in and dump diagnostic logs for the mechanic to review.

As a FileMaker developer, you've probably experienced similar scenarios. Your client calls you up and tells you there’s something wrong with the application. However, they can't seem to reproduce the problem when you're looking. Don’t you wish you could just plug in and see what was going on? Say hello to the Set Error Logging script step in FileMaker 18!

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FileMaker 18 Security Features

As technology changes, mechanisms to protect our data resources must also evolve. The FileMaker 18 Platform includes a variety of security enhancements that I’m sure the FileMaker community has been waiting for! At The Support Group, we're pretty particular about security. Drum roll. Some of the new security features you'll appreciate in FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced are:

  • User interface enhancements
  • New user privilege set
  • Updates to file access
  • Digitally signed plug-in notifications
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FileMaker 18: New Calculation Functions

If you had a specific situation where you needed to perform loops within a calculation, you were resigned to recursions. But now FileMaker 18 allows for While calculation functions so you can avoid those cumbersome recursive functions. No custom function necessary, no having a function call itself, no worrying about being sucked into a wormhole – maybe that last one is just me.

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New Import Interface in FileMaker 18

FileMaker's import process has not changed in a long time and so it's ripe for an update. FileMaker, Inc. has shown it a lot of love in FileMaker 18!

FileMaker’s importing capabilities are pretty extensive but they're not always intuitive. The new import dialog interface features a mix of graphics and text so it should be very easy for both new and seasoned developers to choose the most appropriate actions. Let's explore the new import features and functions.

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