More has been revealed today (July 20 2011) about how well FileMaker 11 will play with Lion. There are limitations. We now know that a FileMaker Pro 11 compatibility update is scheduled for August. There is also an update for FileMaker Server 11 scheduled to be released in October. I wrote up as much as I could about all this on my Studio Manager site but now I'm too busy playing with Lion and reading up on it to propagate all of it to this site tonight. Just click to Studio Manager to see what I've got for you.
Don't upgrade to OS X Lion until FileMaker Inc. releases a compatibility update to FileMaker 11.
FileMaker Pro 11 is the only version that FileMaker Inc. plans to certify for Lion. If you are using an earlier version of FileMaker (prior to 11), don't upgrade to Lion unless you see enough evidence out in the world or with your own safe experiments to determine that your FileMaker database(s) will run OK in that version of FileMaker under Lion. If you do run into a problem, you'll be on your own.
FileMaker is excited about the powerful features in OS X Lion and iOS 5. We are committed to be compatible with the latest Apple operating systems and the shipping versions of FileMaker products will be updated to support OS X Lion and iOS 5.
Since FileMaker 8 is a PowerPC app, it will not run under OS X Lion at all due to the lack of support in Lion for Rosetta. FileMaker 8 and any earlier versions of FileMaker will not run under Lion.
There's a pretty good chance that FileMaker 8.5 - 10 will work using FileMaker files on their own or as guests (with some minor bugs). There's less of a chance that you could have a machine running Lion hosting filemaker files or older versions of FileMaker Server hosting files from a Lion machine. This is how it went with Snow Leopard anyway.
People will certainly try things with Lion and experiment if they have an irresistible Lion feature they want to use. Keep an eye out for findings. I will post what I find to this blog.
I've written a longer post over on my studio-manager.com site. The main thing to know is that you can download the free demo and then try out Studio Manager on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. You'll need to fill in minimal registration details to get the demo. But then you can see what our take is on a FileMaker Go-based iPad and iPhone capability. If you have FileMaker Go, you should check it out. Let me know if you have any questions.
FileMaker Inc. released FileMaker Go in July. It is powerful in its current early form and we expect it to just get better and more essential from here on out. As soon as we got the word, we immediately put iPad and iPhone compatibility at the top of our list features to add to Studio Manager.
We are just about done with Studio Manager 11 which is devoted to adding iPhone and iPad features to Studio Manager. We are learning a lot and want to start sharing what we are coming up with.
We Are Creating Dedicated Layouts for iPad and iPhone
The best tool to get you started on that is the free FileMaker Go Toolkit from Soliant. It has a lot of nice parts for your iPhone layouts especially. You'll need to quickly figure out whether you are going to support landscape and portrait on your layouts. We decided that it is too limiting at this point and are just doing portrait for iPhone entry screens and landscape for iPhone list and table views. Seems to work. For iPad, we are supporting landscape just as you would on a Mac or PC. Our use testing shows this works fine.
Size matters on these layouts as you don't have a resize script step in FileMaker Go. If you size the layout exactly to fit the iPad screen and resolution, things go really well. This was our approach and we are happy with it.
You Can Build Out Functionality Fast
If you are building iPad and iPhone layouts into an existing robust database, you already have scripts and report layouts that just need some tweaking to add logic to use your iPhone and iPad layouts as appropriate. This speed of development is a huge benefit that FileMaker Inc. has gifted us with. Thanks a lot! Creating this much compatibility in version 1 of FileMaker Go is awesome.
We like to show some layouts in the Layout Pop-down Menu in Studio Manager, so we had a little bit of a challenge figuring out how and where to add iPhone and iPad layouts to the already full list of table names on that menu. We name entry screens for each table the name of the table so that it looks nice in the layout menu.
First change, we decided to keep our naming convention for layouts with one exception: we added a special character and a space before all iPhone layouts and a different special character and space before all iPad layouts. That gives you names like this for iPhone: ◊ Contacts and ◊ Jobs. And layout names like this for iPad: Contacts, Jobs. You get these characters in Lucida Grande which is FileMaker's screen font by typing Option-Shift-v and Option-Shift-k. We think of the diamond as a littler screen and the Apple symbol was just too good to pass up so it was used for iPad.
We found that it helped to create a Custom Function called LayoutPlatform. It just looks at the first character in a layout name and knows you are on an iPhone layout if that character is ◊ and an iPad layout if a . The main advantage of this so far has been that we can develop and test iPad and iPhone behavior on our laptops and desktops and get the behavior we would get on the iPhone or iPad. At first our logic was limited to whether you were actually on an iPhone or iPad and that got old really fast when we wanted to be in iPad or iPhone-mode while in FileMaker Pro.
We decided, you have the least ability to move around and perhaps are less advanced when on an iPhone so put those layouts in a group at the top of the layout menu with a heading that says IPHONE and dividers above and below. Then we grouped the iPad layouts under IPAD. Finally, the rest of the visible layouts are under DESKTOP.
I have to get back to polishing Studio Manager 11 for release on Monday. You may want to take a look at some of the blog posts I've got on the studio-manager.com site for some screenshots of the layouts themselves. Some are pretty rough, but we've been improving with experience and are liking the results we are getting.
If you are using or creating a FileMaker database and want to provide a satisfying experience via FileMaker Go, you will need the best information available about how FileMaker Go differs from FileMaker Pro.
You will need advice about changes you can make to your current FileMaker database to make it data-safe and touch-friendly to iPhone and iPad users.
Make sure you've got these three resources, handy:
There is some overlap between the three, but beggars can't be choosers at this preliminary phase of the FileMaker Go learning curve.
Soliant's free FileMaker Go Toolkit is a must have compliment to Scott's above listed Tech Brief. The brief takes its examples from the Toolkit. This iPhone screenshot is an iPhone layout in the toolkit. You get lots of great graphic parts too. You can peruse some scripts. This free toolkit will help you build your first FileMaker Go layouts and look good while doing it!
There are other blog posts and resources out there. These are the top four. As I discover other essential resources, I will post them on FileMaker Fever.
Matt Petrowsky has a 10 minute video on FileMaker 11 New Features for the FileMaker Developer.
Secret Weapons Lab has a 2-part in depth review of FileMaker 11 from a developer's perspective.
BillonFileMaker by Bill Doerrfeld has more good FM11 commentary from a developer perspective.
More of My Tips and Comments on FileMaker 11:
As I begin using and testing FileMaker Pro 11, I'm finding little tidbits worth sharing. Here are some of the highlights:
Quick Find is a big win. You don't have to use the Find command so much anymore. Users will quickly learn to try Quick Find before bothering with the Find command. It works in Browse mode which is the normal operating mode in FileMaker. It is really fast unless searching on unindexed fields or related fields where it might slow down a bit or a lot depending on the circumstances (how many records etc.).
Tip: Enable Quick Find Selectively in any existing database. When opened in FileMaker 11, every layout is enabled for Quick Find. So..., if there are places Quick Find makes no sense, you should turn it off in Layout Setup. Also, all fields, including merge fields, on your layouts start their lives as enabled for Quick Find. In Layout Mode, you'll see teeny, tiny yellow magnifying glasses in the lower right corner of some fields. Those are the unindexed and related fields like those in portals that may slow down your Quick Finds. I would turn all those off unless you can think of a reason not to. Then, as time goes by, you can always turn one or two back on if and when the need becomes apparent.
Charting is Awesome. Charts have a way of capturing our attention that numbers don't. It is as easy to do charting in FileMaker as it is in Excel so this doesn't require rocket science or expensive rocket scientists (like yours truly) to start using. I've learned how to use Charting so far from FileMaker 11's online help examples - 4 of them to show different ways to use it. Then, I learned more by watching MightyData's free 7 minute Charting tutorial. Get the tutorial and free demo file here. There are twenty gorgeous color schemes to choose from with the option to specify your own colors if you like. You can hover over a bar or pie slice to see the exact numbers reflected.
Portal Filtering. The Portal Set-up dialog box has a new checkbox called Filter Portal Records. Let's say you have a portal in your clients entry screen that shows invoices for that client, but you would also like to see just the unpaid invoices and just use the full history of all invoices for reference as needed. What I would do is make my portal just a bit smaller and then create a tab control with 2 tabs. The first tab would be Unpaid Invoices and the second would be entitled Invoice History. I would cut the current portal and portal fields and paste them onto each of the 2 tabs. Then in my first Unpaid Invoices tab, I would double-click the portal to bring up portal setup and check the new Filter Portal checkbox. There I would enter Unpaid Balance > 0. And click OK to save it. That's it. A 5 minute project.
Limitations of the New Portal Filtering Checkbox. Apparently, the Go To Related Records command ignores the filter. So that means, to use my same example above, when you click the button to the left of an Unpaid Invoice, you'll go to that Invoice but the found set will most likely be all the invoices for this client, not the nicer subset of unpaid invoices. Up till now we've had to get into the relationships graph and create new calculated fields or use custom functions to get a portal to filter. Now portal filtering is not so arduous. In my product, I'll probably do it the old-fashioned way so my found set behavior is consistent. But sometimes this limitation won't be a problem and the quick and dirty way will serve just fine. It is always helpful to have a quick way to try out a new feature. If it is a as valuable as you think it is going to be, you can implement it the more robust way on the relationships graph when time permits.
Layout Object Badges. Now that layout objects can do all sorts of back flips, it is helpful to see which ones have special features. There are really nice new colored badge icons to show: Conditional Formatting, Quick Find, Script Triggers and Tooltips. For instance, the Quick Find magnifying glass icons mentioned above come in green or yellow depending on whether the find is going to be fast or slow.
More on Manage Layouts. I mentioned in Tuesday's post that you can create layout groups with the new much improved Manage Layouts window. Besides that, you can leave it open and return to browse mode. This is one more case where more than one tool can be kept available one click away. You can switch to different screens and use the layouts groups after you've checked out a few of those layouts with funny names.
You Don't need to use the little up-down widget to move items in Manage Scripts and Manage Layouts. Now you can drag anywhere on a script name or layout name and move it easily with excellent visual feedback as you do so.
The Text Engine has Changed (Again). In my Studio Manager product, a lot of the buttons are underlined text. All of these links looked cramped when opened in FileMaker 11. With a little experimentation, I found that if I increased the vertical height of those link-styled buttons by 1 pixel, the underscores would move down a bit and look better.
Layout Inspectors. Floating palettes are all rage on the Mac these days and FileMaker Layouts are now the beneficiaries of this trend. In FileMaker 11, you can open 1 Inspector. It has 3 tabs that cover just about any possible layout characteristic. And, you can apply those characteristics to multiple objects at once. Very handy. Even handier you can close the triangles on characteristic groups you don't use often to shorten the palette. Handier yet, you can open multiple Inspectors and show 1 tab on each if you like. This is a killer feature for FIleMaker 11 for the developer who spends more time than he or she might like on layout details and polishing.
Editing Scripts from the Button Setup Screen. This is definitely a developer feature. It is ideal for debugging and for fixing. Here's the deal. Before you would double-click a button that wasn't working right. Then you would click to see what the name of the script was that it was running and scroll up and down the list to see where in the scripts list the script was. Then you would open Manage Scripts, find the script, open it, check it out and fix it if necessary. Now, once you see the script that the button uses, you can edit the script directly from there.
I'll be posting again soon I hope the next batch of things I've found in the new FIleMaker 11.
I've got Filemaker Pro 11 Advanced running on my Macbook Air right now. It came out this morning and ever since I've been working to understand its new features and begin to write about them. I saw a preview at the FileMaker Developer's Conference last summer, but there's nothing like the real thing, released and usable now!
Before you get too excited, you need Leopard 10.5.7 or higher to run FileMaker 11. And Snow Leopard is recommended.
Linear Chat and CNET says FileMaker 11 is Cocoa-based on Mac. I'm still researching this, but apparently the reason FileMaker 11 looks so good on my Snow Leopard Mac today is that is Cocoa-based.
Yay! FileMaker 11 has end-user charting and, of course, developer charting as well so canned charts that show important information can be set to pop-up with a click. The charts look really good and have a lot of functionality and tweakability without scripting or head-scratching.
Layout Groups will be appreciated by just about any firm using FileMaker to cleanup the layouts menu. Now you can put all those junky layouts that may never be used again in a Folder or two and get them out of the way. For my Studio Manager product with 250+ layouts, it sure will be a faster scroll once layouts are organized into folders. There's also layout search built-in, just start typing.
Learn More. FileMaker.com's FileMaker Pro 11 New Features page is a good place to start to see the new features and watch little videos to learn more. You might also find FileMaker's Features page helpful as a list of key things in each release of filemaker starting with what's new in FM11.
Keep an eye on FileMaker Fever for more details in this post and others to follow.
We are running a series of blog posts over at my product site: Studio Manager Story. As of December 15, we've got 7 posts on new features. We expect to release Studio Manager 10 on December 21st. In the meantime, we will be writing posts about the new features. We've got a calendar for job deadlines, find-as-you-type filtering and other tidbits that might give you ideas for your own applications. Half the battle is converting a vague wish into a clearly defined and aesthetically pleasing feature.
If you are using FileMaker, upgrade to FileMaker 10 if you haven't already. Now, what are all the things you've always thought you couldn't do and had to live with? Time to start removing obstacles and adding power to your database with Script Triggers.
Keep reading, there's a nice unlocked sample file at the end this story.
The genie is out of the bottle. Now you don't have to make your users do all the work to make things happen in your database. For example, if you need a script to assemble the perfect up-to-date value list, you can have it. If users have training issues and tend to enter the wrong data sometimes, you can trap those things on-the-fly and then train your users and clean up after them.
Maybe we are lucky that we didn't get Script Triggers earlier. FileMaker databases tend to be built with strong fundamentals. Developers haven't been enraptured making the database do fancy back flips - because it hasn't been possible till now. What's cool is that script triggers are so full-featured that there is a lot you can do with them without writing long scripts. Short scripts work wonders.
Here's where gold mining comes in. We just recently had the FileMaker Developer's Conference. Hundreds of FileMaker developers got religion at the conference and what we learned is that script triggers don't have to be difficult. They can be easy and make our lives and our users' lives easier.
Everyone is out there learning tricks and shortcuts that weren't possible till now. Gold mining is what you do to see what your fellow developers are telling and selling. There's more blogging than ever. Twitter has gotten an active group of FileMaker developers tweeting now. If you are lucky some of our top FileMaker developers will start selling us their tricks piecemeal.
Example files are being shared all over the net. My example is simple and easy. Maybe it will be the one that either fixes a problem you have with your database or gets you excited about learning more about Script Triggers. So here goes.
Timesheet Date Script Trigger. I have a Timesheet Entry Screen in my Studio Manager product. There is a timesheet for each person for each day. When you create a new timesheet, it fills in your employee number and today's date. Then it is up to you to enter line items for the work you've done entering job, billing category and time expended. It does the job well and quickly.
Except, every now and then a user will realize a little late that he wants the timesheet date to be yesterday not today. So he or she changes the date. Since every line item copies the timesheet date into itself automatically as it is created, if my user has entered 3 line items for 9/15 and then changes the timesheet date to 9/14, we've got an inconsistency that will show up in weirdness in time reports. I've used calculated field messages that show up on the line items to tell my user that he's screwed things up. But it is clunky. Script triggers give me a better and simple option.
Put a Script Trigger on the Timesheet Date field. Select the field. Choose Format/Set Script Triggers... (or Cmd-double-click the object). Check the OnObjectExit trigger and leave the Browse mode checkbox checked. Select a script that is near where you would like to put your new script for the Timesheet Date field.
Right now since I don't know how many of these script trigger scripts I'm going to have, I create a script folder called something like "TS Script Triggers". The TS is the Table abbreviation for Timesheets.
Here's my script. I'll explain it below. View it full size by clicking it.
What the script runs when my user exits the timesheet date field: Are there any line items? If so, does the timesheet date just exitted match the date in the first line item? No? Then throw up a dialog for the user and ask him how he wants to resolve the discrepancy. Default to changing the line item dates for him. Cancel changes the timesheet date back to the original value in case there was a data entry error. All done, no error messages to create and calculate --nothing.
Look at the script above. Yes, it does involve an extremely simple loop but I could have used a Replace command just as well. It is dead simple. I will never get confused trying to figure out this script.
Here's the unlocked sample file for your learning pleasure. There is a similar script trigger for Employee Number because you could have similar needs there.
Resources: I'll be adding to this list as quickly as I can.