The Support Group Blog

New Script Set: FileMaker Transactions

Claris released a new version of FileMaker, and it’s pretty exciting. Of course, the usual list of bug fixes and minor enhancements to the platform accompanied the update. Nonetheless, there's at least one outstanding new feature: Transactions.  

In the database world, a transaction is any operation on an entity. In FileMaker world, it represents any change made to a record. Previously, we made most of our changes to our records, one record and one field at a time. And, when we clicked out of the field in FileMaker, it committed the record, thereby completing an operation for that entity - in other words, performing a transaction. This function helps keep all our data in sync with other users who concurrently access the database. But it can impede the performance of our system, especially in a wide area network (WAN) environment with poor network speed or high latency.  

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How To Design a FileMaker CRM

In our previous blog posts, we reviewed the following:

  • What a CRM is
  • The requirements for a basic CRM
  • How to create an entity relationship diagram (ERD) for that CRM
  • How to create a CRM database in FileMaker

In this final post, we will review how to design a FileMaker CRM to finish up the system.

So, after creating the tables, fields, and relationships, the only thing left is to design the user interface (UI). Again, aiming for the most straightforward route here, our first inclination is to create a master-detail layout for each module – Contacts, Companies, and Interactions. But as we think about it, interactions are always related to a contact record; therefore, those details will live within the Contacts screen.  

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How To Set Up a CRM Database for FileMaker

In our previous blog post, we reviewed what a customer relationship management (CRM) system is and put together the requirements for a basic CRM. Yet, we’re not quite ready to start writing code. Next, we need to draw up an entity relationship diagram - ERD for short. In database land, this is a map of all the buckets of information that we will track and the connected data among them. As part of this process, we will look for places to normalize the data. Normalizing means we will look for instances where we can avoid entering the same data in two different areas.  

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Create a Custom FileMaker CRM

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is essential for any business. A CRM helps us communicate with clients, automates processes, and provides analytical tools to help us understand our operations and customers. That said, there are different kinds of CRMs. Some are as simple as the contacts app on our phones, while others can be full-fledged online applications like Salesforce or HubSpot.  

While many off-the-shelf CRM software solutions are currently on the market, every business is unique. Therefore, invariably the need arises to customize or create a CRM system tailored to a specific workflow or value proposition.

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FileMaker Location and Location Values Functions

It really is all about location, location, location. FileMaker Go makes it possible for us to collect and share longitude and latitude coordinates with the Location and Location Values functions. They’ve been around for a while but are worth a second look these days as we find more and more uses for FileMaker Go and GPS data in the workplace.

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FileMaker Sub-Summary Report

We all know FileMaker is a great platform to store, organize, and find data, be it grandma's recipes or the inventory of a multinational corporation. Most avid FileMaker users can figure out how to enter, delete, search, and even create lists of stuff with little to no help. The one thing that we often struggle with is reporting on all this data. We know that FileMaker is super powerful in this regard, having seen examples of its reporting prowess everywhere, from the Internet to personal experiences using solutions designed by others. But how to do it exactly often eludes us.

More often than not, we initially store our data in a spreadsheet. We then transfer the data from the spreadsheet to FileMaker in the hopes of expanding functionality. A spreadsheet, at its core, is a different beast. A spreadsheet is a static grid with a very intuitive but sometimes limiting method of summarizing data. For example, we can easily total the data to the left, right, top, or bottom of our “Sum” cell in a spreadsheet. This rigid grid makes it easy to count our data because of its inflexibility. This rigidity is also why most of us ultimately move most, if not all, of our data-driven workflows into FileMaker. FileMaker allows us to structure the interface and data the way we want instead of being forced to use some arbitrary grid. But, we soon find out that FileMaker's ability to organize the data the way we want comes at a price; this price is the complexity of reporting.

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How To Use JavaScript in FileMaker

We compared and contrasted the use of variables between JavaScript and FileMaker. Now, we want to talk about functions and how to use JavaScript in FileMaker.

Claris's FileMaker platform and most spreadsheets have these useful features called functions. These functions do simple calculation jobs for us. For example, the Trim() function removes white space from the end of a text block, and the Round () function rounds a number to the nearest specified digit. Their uses are practically limitless. More likely than not, we developers rely on functions like these to get our jobs done daily.

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JavaScript and FileMaker: Variables

JavaScript is our web browser's scripting language, and any object that uses the operating system's web browser engine inherits its capabilities, including FileMaker's web viewer. We can use JavaScript just like we use a FileMaker script. JavaScript can execute various functions such as:

  • Run workflows
  • Distribute invoices to select customers
  • Save data to a database or variable
  • Display a notification to a user, like an alert that inventory is low for a particular product

One of the best properties of JavaScript is that we can use it to extend FileMaker far beyond its native capabilities. By leveraging hundreds of free JavaScript libraries available across the Internet, we can do almost anything we need, including customizing calendars. Let's explore how JavaScript and FileMaker scripting are similar and how they differ. 

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Discover the Basics of FileMaker Quick Start

Sometimes the most challenging part of any task is getting started. Claris recognizes this, and as a result, offers FileMaker users and citizen developers the ability to build custom apps in an agile manner. They released the FileMaker Quick Start Experience in preview mode several months ago. The tool is intended to be intuitive, but it's also very much a work-in-progress. So, we'll review some FileMaker Quick Start basics to help us all make the most of it.

Before we get started, we have to mention that the FileMaker Quick Start experience is only available to Mac OS users running the latest version of the program. The preview has a dual purpose. Firstly, the tool is designed for users to learn FileMaker quickly and deploy an app in a matter of days as opposed to months. And secondly, Claris wants to gather feedback about the experience so that they can enhance and improve usability. We assume they want to make it as functional as possible before broadening the user base.

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How To Learn FileMaker Quickly

The future of low-code development is coming clearly into view, and it's going to be browser-based. Most of today's best examples of productivity-enhancing platforms don't require installing desktop programs or uploading apps to local servers but instead just opening a browser window and pointing to an address. Building, testing, and deploying applications all happen in the cloud without us having to install anything on our computers, phones, or tablets. Claris FileMaker is taking baby steps into the next generation of its low-code development platform with its new Quick Start Experience. The Quick Start Experience, which is available for users running the most recent version of the software on macOS, opens the door, just a little, to a fresh way of using a product we've been using for years. The tool allows new users and citizen developers to learn how to use FileMaker quickly.

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