The Support Group Blog

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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A Match Made in FileMaker Heaven: FileMaker 16 and Tableau

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.

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How To Use Material Design Icons in FileMaker Pro

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/.

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FileMaker Pro Wizard: Eric Sterbenk

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.

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FileMaker Pro: Nothing to Gloss Over

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.

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FileMaker Professional: Karstyn Mccoy

I’ve worn many hats throughout my professional career, from professional ballet dancer and apartment maintenance supervisor to insurance salesman and manager of a retail wood blinds store. It was during my time in the IT department of the largest charter school in California (at the time) where I began using FileMaker Pro and quickly became a fan of the software. In all of my endeavors, I’ve always enjoyed finding the most efficient way of doing things and I discovered that FileMaker Pro provides flexibility and scalability to address virtually every business need regardless of industry.

I have always had a knack for effectively communicating/translating complex or technical ideas into simple, layman terms, which is put to the test daily as I’m now the Senior Systems Engineer at The Support Group. Good communication skills, which include a heavy dose of listening and questioning, are key to breaking down intricate business tasks into simpler and more efficient workflows so that we can design FileMaker solutions that improve productivity and reduce waste for our clients. Maybe it’s the performer in me, but I enjoy wearing many hats - sometimes I’m an analyst, the next moment a designer or maybe a project manager depending on the day, the project or the client.

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The Great Debate: Mac or PC with FileMaker Pro?

We are an office divided, Mac or PC. Some of us prefer to do our FileMaker development on Macs and others prefer PCs. We are given the option to choose our systems when we join The Support Group and many other organizations probably pose the same question to new hires. FileMaker, Inc. is an Apple subsidiary and FileMaker Pro works just as well on PCs as it does on Macs. Some menus might look a little different, but the functionality is all the same. FileMaker 16 actually goes a long way to achieve parity between the two systems. The new interface in FileMaker 16 allows Windows users to interact with the program as if in a typical Windows environment. Windows users are able to remove menus in order to maximize screen real estate and use multiple monitors when developing custom applications in the latest version of FileMaker Pro.

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