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.
The following table shows some of the key differences between the two XML functions:
|Function||DDR||Save As XML|
|Run from Scripts||—||Yes|
|Select from open databases||Yes||Only focus database|
|Select what to include||Yes||—|
|Select output format||Yes||—|
To understand the differences between the two, it may help to understand their intent and not get lost in the weeds of the XML differences. The DDR is a tool designed for analysis whereas the new Save a Copy as XML feature is an early step in the long term plan to recreate a database or parts of it from the saved XML. Keeping its intent in mind and comparing that to the current DDR, you can see why the new XML is more streamlined as it has a specific future goal. It's also good to keep this note in mind, straight from FM18 Help:
What Good Is It?
So that’s all well and good, but how do we use it?
Before you try it, you must have Full Access privileges for the file and you must be using the FileMaker desktop client. For security reasons, this feature is not available from any other connection, including perform script on server (PSoS) or server-side scheduled scripts.
You have two options to perform this function:
1. Run it manually from the Tools menu
2. Script it using the new ‘Save a Copy as XML’ script step.
For either option, you just need to give the file a name and a path of where to save it.
Once the XML is created, you can open it in your favorite text editor or any XML specific tool. Many of the helpful tools out there have a Diff functionality built-in, which allows you to review changes from one XML output to another. This is not a replacement for any of the great tools that are in the market already that can run a diff function between two DDRs; it's a welcome addition with a promising future. If you work with text files or XML already you likely have a familiar application to read and compare the new XML output now.
This is a very exciting new feature and I can’t wait to see how it develops over the next few versions as it could be a huge turning point in terms of different possibilities and development techniques in the FileMaker Platform. Fingers crossed that it continues on the fast track and lives up to the hype!
This article is also posted on FileMakerProGurus.com.