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.
The Support Group Blog
I have run several businesses over the last 25 years, including a trust company and a mutual fund administration company. In all of my ventures, I used the FileMaker platform to automate data management, workflows
I have an innate ability to analyze businesses and identify weaknesses within the organization and work processes. It serves me well that I have the complementary ability to recommend and design changes to workflows that greatly increase productivity.
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
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.
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.
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...
In my humble opinion, the FileMaker platform integration with Tableau is pretty amazing! Tableau greatly simplifies how you run reports, create dashboards, display geographic mapping and more using your FileMaker data. The new FileMaker Data API in FileMaker 16, the Tableau Web Data Connector, and the fact that both support REST APIs in JSON formats make this integration possible. Being able to connect to third-party applications, or have third party applications connect to your database is an exciting new development for the FileMaker platform as a product and for FileMaker users in general.
It amazes me how easily we adapt and respond to visuals. Not only is functionality important to software development, but design is also pretty important. Because time is a limited commodity, usability and intuition are important factors when encouraging users to adopt a new system. And generally, the visual elements of the system determine how quickly users are able to learn a new application. Design includes many different aspects – color, layout, fonts, sizes, etc. You have to be strategic with your design elements, including those micro-images we call icons. Those seemingly small symbols ultimately make a big impact on user navigability and comprehension.
Who else but Google has created a style guide for all of their applications and shared it on the interwebs for everyone to use. Material Design is basically a design language that Google created to unify digital interfaces and experiences. They offer lots of good UI/UX design ideas in this document and a bunch of free resources. Who doesn’t like free stuff? One of those free things is a whole set of icons, nice ones. You can browse through them here: https://material.io/icons/.
In a former life, I was an administrator at Parsons School of Design where I was responsible for registering 400 students and assigning them to the proper classes. The process was completely manual, but I strongly felt that technology could provide a better way. As a self-taught computer nerd, I introduced FileMaker 3 to Parsons and one year later, I designed and built a digital system that not only automatically assigned classes to all 400 registered students, but also tracked faculty schedules and assigned classrooms. As an added bonus, we stored pictures of all of the students using a very early webcam. I’ve been using the FileMaker platform with a variety of clients around the world ever since.
Behind the Gloss
Gloss Studio provides photo re-touching services to a number of well-known brands within the fashion and beauty industry. An eye for detail and quality are essential in this line of business, but running the business as smoothly as possible is also important. A lot goes into creating the attractive images we see in marketing materials, a lot of communication, that is. Once the photos are received from the photographers, there is a slew of messages between the producers and re-touchers at Gloss Studio as they turn raw images into digitally re-touched works of art. Documenting, tracking and reporting the work became cumbersome within FileMaker Pro and so they asked The Support Group to help organize and streamline some of their workflows.