The Support Group Blog

Vince Dolan

Recent Posts

FileMaker Developer Conference 2018 In Review

It's that wonderful time of the year again - the FileMaker Developer Conference. Karstyn McCoy, our Senior Systems Engineer, and I just returned from the DevCon conference in Dallas, TX and we are more excited than ever about the future of this ingenious software platform. It was a week full of motivational discussions and a whole lot of learning.

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Meet Google App Maker

You've got organizational challenges, we all do. Maybe you want to create a schedule to manage your football team, a class roster to track attendance or a portal where parents and students can review assignments and grades. You don’t have time to install, learn and deploy a traditional productivity application, much more pay for one.

You might currently manage these common tasks with a disparate group of spreadsheets that you've cobbled together and shared with your team. This sort of worked pretty well when you first set them up, but now expectations have risen and users want different ways to view and interact with the information. Basically, your tool has become what folks refer to as the "spreadsheet from hell.” A tangled web of calculations and forms makes it frustrating to interpret and update the data.

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The New Kid on the Block: Google App Maker

We've been developing custom apps for more than 30 years and it's always exciting to see the space evolve. Now we welcome Google to the custom app neighborhood. The newest member of their cloud offering is called App Maker and just as its name implies, it is a platform for creating apps. Of course, we had to see what all of the excitement was about. We've actually been learning/playing with App Maker since it was released via Google's Early Adopter Program.

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The FileMaker Data Migration Tool

The introduction of the new FileMaker 17 Platform brings many new and productive improvements to the software. We have the ability to attach multiple files to email messages, copy custom menus, create directories on the fly and more. Those are all very exciting features but I would say one of the life-changing enhancements is the new FileMaker data migration tool. The data migration tool isn’t strictly a version 17 feature. It's really a stand-alone command line app that you can download with a FileMaker Developer Subscription, just like the iOS SDK.

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FileMaker 17 Development Feature: Edit Group Objects

One of the great things about the FileMaker Platform is how fast you can create a custom app that is valuable to you and your coworkers. The ability to whip up something in virtually no time is obviously an attractive feature, but so too is the platform’s unparalleled flexibility to continuously adapt to your needs as they change. They say nothing's perfect and I guess one of the few gripes I had with the program was the minor requirement to ungroup objects in order to make substantive changes to them. 

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FileMaker Server 17 Enhancements & Changes

FileMaker Server 17 ushers in a new age of server administration. Since the release of FileMaker Server 13, we've relied on proprietary Java framework, which was a little heavy for the simple task of administering a server. Now, FileMaker Server has moved to a standards-based, web-only administration interface that is as dynamic and responsive as any modern website. This isn’t our first glimpse of this directional change as many of us have been using a slimmed-down version of this interface with much success in FileMaker Cloud for over a year now. It's elegant, fast and intuitive. Having said all that, creating a whole new tool that allows you to perform all the tasks required to administer and deploy a database/application server is quite a Herculean task. In order to accomplish this without disruption to the user base, FileMaker, Inc. has decided to move in a more evolutionary direction rather than a revolutionary one .

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FileMaker 17: Master-detail Layouts

If you've been kicking around the FileMaker neighborhood for any amount of time, you've probably run into a need to show multiple records in a list format as well as provide a detail view of the current record. Up until now you basically had two options.

The first and probably most popular method is to create one list view layout and another form view layout. The user typically performs a find and if there's more than one record found, you send them to an optimized list view layout. And then with the click of a button, they can see the related details of each record in a form view layout or even in a popover.

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FileMaker 17: New Layout Mode

If you're like me and you do your work on a laptop in the office and at home, you will welcome the new self-organizing and predictable controls that FileMaker, Inc. has introduced in the new FileMaker 17 Platform. At work, I connect my laptop to an external monitor, which expands my viewable space and allows me to spread my work out. However, at home, I rely on my 13" laptop screen to do my development work. Prior to the release of FileMaker 17, every time I switched between the monitor and my 13" laptop screen, I had to find all my control pallets (Object Viewer, Inspector and Field Picker) and then rearrange them to work within the confines of my screen. This was a pain because I had to shift my focus from improving workflows and adding value to trying to find and grab my pallets. It was like being at the carnival midway playing whack-a-mole. This has all changed with version 17. Now all three of these important tools are always accessible where and when I need them. Like most modern integrated development environments, the new Layout Mode configuration docks these important tools right to your Layout window, so that you don’t have to think about where they are when you transition from desk to couch.

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FileMaker 17: New File Export Features

Here's the situation: you're showing your new custom app to a client, boss or colleague and you're proud of the way it can send an email directly from the app. This allows users to leverage all the data stored within it - pretty powerful! But then they ask if they can email more than one attachment because the weekly sales progress report includes three PDF files. Deflated, you hang your head and explain that FileMaker Pro only supports one attachment per email. That used to take the wind right out of your sails until the new FileMaker 17 Platform came along and offered the option to attach multiple files to an email message...

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Fun with FileMaker Pro

Data is powerful! It's generally the backbone of most strategic business decisions to improve products and operations. But the data that businesses collect can be mutually beneficial to consumers as well. Our trackable behaviors and habits make innovation and efficiency possible by allowing computers to process and interpret data in such a way that it can actually help to fulfill a task or goal . This is known as artificial intelligence (AI) and we'll continue to hear a lot about it going into 2018 in terms of research, development and controversy, so we'll save a serious discussion about that and custom applications for another time. For now, we just want to have a little fun with AI.

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