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.
The Support Group Blog
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.
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.
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.
The Kleening Business
RideKleen is a national mobile car wash and fleet management company. They leverage proprietary technology to conveniently offer eco-friendly cleaning processes to both their fleet and corporate customers. Their nimble team of managers and leaders are able to provide efficient, reliable and quality service to customers large and small while fulfilling an altruistic purpose of preserving the environment and serving the community.
One of the things our clients often request is for us to set up their custom application so that it is mandatory for users to fill in certain fields. You all know what this looks like, right? You go to a website to sign up for a service and next to the places you have to put your email and password, you see a little red asterisk. And then at the bottom or top, or somewhere on the page, it will be explained that these fields are required. Now you can specify required fields in FileMaker Pro quickly and easily.
What is a workflow
Simply put, a workflow is a process. And a process is a series of steps that ultimately accomplish a specific task. These steps are systematically organized and repeatable. Recently the term "workflow" has grown increasingly popular because running a business efficiently pretty much depends on workflows. Think about it, when you order something online there is a process of reviewing an item and specifying certain criteria about the item, i.e. color, quantity, size, etc. Then you add the item to a cart so that you can go on to provide your billing and shipping information which will ultimately submit an order. And yet, the business transaction does not end there, the company from which you ordered is obligated to fulfill the order. And so there are a number of steps in the backend of the process that will hopefully result in a package arriving at the address you specified. This is a very high-level overview of a workflow. In order to optimize or improve your workflows, you must understand the detailed steps within the workflows.
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.