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FileMaker Magazine

Integrating third party APIs can be a bit daunting when you’ve never worked with them before. Fortunately, the most difficult part of the process is simply taking the time to research the API and implement the features you’d like to have.

When you’re working within FileMaker, you’re often capturing content which may need to be pushed into another online location - such as Dropbox. If your FileMaker solution needs this, then adding FileMaker Dropbox integration is the way to go.

With FileMaker 16, you can now use the native cURL functionality in order to directly upload a file into a designated Dropbox account. Once you’ve made the connection with Dropbox, you can pretty much do anything you’d like to your dropbox account.

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FileMaker Magazine

This video will teach you all about using the new FileMaker 16 Card Window and show you how to take advantage of the fact that you can have a totally different position for the card window outside of the parent which where it belongs.

With a bit of creative FileMaker scripting you can create some really nice features for your FileMaker database.

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FileMaker Magazine

While it would be wonderful if FileMaker Pro had built-in functionality for all of the features we can possibly think up, it’s not too practical. Besides, what would be left for us to develop?

So, what about saving user state? Do you think you would enjoy leaving your desk for a few moments and coming back to a completely rearranged environment? I doubt it, and that’s almost exactly what FileMaker does when working within a hosted file.

The most common approach to solving this problem is to simply provide a “directory like” structure. Like walking into a mall and heading to the directory map in order to find out where you can possibly go. Call it what you like, a dashboard, main navigation, whatever. You’re simply reseting the user each time they leave and come back into the software.

Well, if you’d like to take another approach, then all you need to do is save the user’s last know state. What you save and how you return the user to their last known state is in your full control. It’s not that hard to do and this video will give you all the details you need to know.

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FileMaker Magazine

On May 9th 2017 FileMaker Inc. released FileMaker version 16. This version included a big number of major features designed to support FileMaker's ability to communicate with the rest of the Internet. As a globally connected software application, FileMaker has clearly stated that it's a highly viable platform for rapid application deployment.

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FileMaker Magazine

The Inspector palette is your primary tool for designing your layouts. Of course, being familiar with all its various options and settings is what makes it possible for the creation of great looking layouts.

This video focuses on going through the second and third tabs of the Inspector and looking at the impacts of all the various settings which control styles and themes.

While the settings themselves may seem all to obvious in terms of what they do, it’s the combination of using those settings which makes the difference.

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FileMaker Magazine

If you’re new to FileMaker, or even an old hat at FileMaker development, then it’s always nice to understand how to use your own tools. In this video, I start the process of walking through the standard Inspector palette.

By taking a bit of time to understand each of the unique areas of the Inspector palette, you may gain a tip or trick in terms of what you can do with this critical part of FileMaker development. Spend a few minutes to watch this video about the first of the four sections of FileMaker’s Inspector palette.

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FileMaker Magazine

There’s an addictive quality to solving problems within FileMaker. Especially, when you wire things up to the user interface. Click the button, and what would have taken many times longer, is shortened into a few milliseconds of time.

It quite literally feels like you’re a magician - at least to this developer. So, when developing a solution the other day, and needing to copy the contents of one portal over to another, I quickly came up with a solution and put it into place.

Within about a half an hour, things were pretty close to how I’d like them to work. The result of that effort is now ready for you to learn from - and add yet one more tool to your arsenal. So, if you’ve ever had the need to duplicate a related set of data then give this video a try.

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FileMaker Magazine

Heading back into our series on the Custom Function database, there’s always an opportunity to explore yet another area of using FileMaker to create solid solutions. This video focuses on the fact that we’re storing canonical data which we want to leverage, yet not alter.

When you store data for any type of templating system or data which acts as the basis for further variations you have a number of choices in terms of how users interact with that data. For this solution we want the user to be able to easily modify the data but not the original data. Instead, giving the user their own copy allows them to keep the original and have their own custom modifications as well.

Watch this video if you’d like to learn more about using FileMaker’s validation options in order to facilitate controlled data duplication. That’s exactly what we’ve done in part 9 of the Custom Function database.

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FileMaker Magazine

One of the most enjoyable things about working in FileMaker, or any development environment where looping is supported, is the pure joy of automation.

Even thinking about checking off any more than a few records at a time brings me to a mental state of counting the number of seconds it takes for the single action itself, then multiplying times the number of objects I need to affect.

So the question arrives. “How do I automate this?” or “How do I make this process easier for the user?”. The answer, quite simply is applying the knowledge you have about solving it. There are, however, times when you just don’t know what can be done to make it even easier.

In this video, I showcase a technique and method for offering users with the ability to checkmark whole sub-ranges of records by simply clicking a button within a sub-summary area of a list view. It’s a wonderfully sublime method of solving the problem. And, understanding the fundamentals means you can use the method for a lot more than just a simple checkbox.

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FileMaker Magazine

Planning out your UX (user experience) obviously requires less work on a smaller solution than it does within a larger solution. I guess that goes without saying, but no matter what solution you start working on, it will always seems to grow and expand to add new features and functionality.

While you can’t always plan for what you don’t know is coming down the road, you can certainly work with what you have in front of you. Trying to prototype and account for how your solution will be used is what your primary focus should be.

For the most part, this comes in two different forms. There’s the build it, then test it camp, and the get feedback/suggestions, then build it camp. In this video I start with the process of building first and then asking for feedback. This is typically my first approach because I simply lack the resources to take the other route.

The big trick with creating your UX is the fact that when users start using it, they establish mental pathways of how to get things done. It’s very hard to change things on your users once a “certain way” of doing things has been established.

So, the best approach is to think really hard about how users will use the software and go as simple and minimal as you can. Don’t try to put everything in within the first release. You can always add more to a user interface and keeping things simple makes it really easy to get feedback when people start asking the inevitable question “can it do this?”.

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FileMaker Magazine

What would software be without icons? Would it be like looking at a tree without leaves? For some reason, a tree just looks more like a tree when it has leaves. Right?

So, this video is about how FileMaker uses SVG icons within it’s buttons. If you’ve always wondered how to make the most of FileMaker’s support of SVG icons, then look no further. In this video I’ll show you my own personal workflow for creating and integrating icons into a FileMaker solutions. You can integrate icons into your solution in a surprisingly quick fashion if you’re willing to get familiar with a bit of node and gulp.

Of course, even if you have no desired to install node.js, you may very well find tips and tricks which will help you expedite the process of integrating icons.

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FileMaker Magazine

There comes a time when every great database must acquire a brand new look. This really applies if you’ve never even given your database a user interface or you’re looking to revamp the one you currently have.

The best place to start, I find, is with the “primary objective” of the interface. In fact, I would argue that it’s best to focus on the number 1,2 and 3 aspects or goals of the user interface. I do this for every single layout being designed. By doing this before you start to throw fields on the layout, you afford yourself the ability to keep things simple before getting too complex. Many of the most popular products and software interfaces start out super simple.

Some of them become bloatware, like many of the Microsoft Office products, but they had a good foundation when it came to how users have learned to use them.

In this video, we take a look at starting the user interface for our Custom Function database. I provide some foundation and the basis for how I approach the process and showcase how I implement based on the decisions I’ve made.

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FileMaker Magazine

Lately, here at ISO FileMaker Magazine we’ve been covering a lot about web services and using technologies like REST, cURL and JSON.

Well, that’s not about change with this video. We’re now needing to move forward with our Custom Functions database and make a connection to the web site where the custom functions are hosted.

We do this with a dedicated Custom Function which takes advantage of the Base Elements plugin to make HTTP requests. With the knowledge learned in our cURL video about request & response headers, we can connect to the BrianDunning.com web site and get the id values of any new custom functions.

Making this type of request means we are relying on code which can break at some point in the future, should the web site itself change. So, I talk about how to deal with this and how to parse the data in the most efficient manner.

Let’s scrape some web data and get it into our database!

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FileMaker Magazine

While FileMaker’s script step Insert from URL does allow for basic communication with web services, it is, by no means, comprehensive enough to provide all the features necessary. What’s really needed is the full cURL library.

This open source tool has been available for over 15 years and is baked into a ton of software packages, including FileMaker itself. However, it’s really only exposed within plug-ins such as Base Elements and the MBS plug-in.

So, in order to fully understand what going on, it’s best to start with the source. And, that’s understanding cURL itself and how options are managed and how you set and parse HTTP headers.

This video walks through the process of using cURL within the context of a plug-in. Once you understand how to set and control settings through the plug-in, you’re off to the races and working with any web service you can think of.

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FileMaker Magazine

When you know just a little part of how FileMaker works under the hood, you can come up with creative solutions to everyday problems. Take web services as an example. They use defined structures such as XML and JSON. And, when you consider that you’re using this third party defined structure and the need to mix in your own data, you want to find the easy way to solve the problem.

In my case, I really like the path of least resistance. Of course, there are many ways to solve a problem. Let’s consider a FileMaker script. It can be self contained and have no dependencies on any other FileMaker elements. It can be called by another script and can be completely disassociated from any and all context. Context, within FileMaker, if you didn’t know, is the situation where a script can only do something if it’s executing in the right place. The right place would be the current Layout in which the script is running.

If we don’t fight context, however, and simply make our scripts only operate within the proper context, then we can simply handle the error when the right context doesn’t exist and let the proper people know about it.

I’ve coded solutions in both ways. Context independent and context sensitive, and it really boils down to use, preference and perspective. So, for this video we’re taking the context approach and using FileMaker’s ever so easy ability to merge in field data or global variables into text objects in order to make things easy for us to copy our Custom Functions to the clipboard. This information in this video and file have “Oh so many implications.”

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FileMaker Magazine

As you’re probably aware, whenever a great craftsman has a project in front of themselves, they’re likely picking from not just one tool but many. What this means, in the context of FileMaker, is that you can’t just stop with using FileMaker alone. There are many times when it makes more sense, or will net bigger benefits, when you go outside of FileMaker.

The trick is this, you don’t necessarily need to go too far outside of FileMaker to accomplish some amazing things. Right within FileMaker is the Web Viewer object with direct access to JavaScript and just a little beyond that are plug-ins which can access pretty much anything else you could ever want.

On the Macintosh, we find that we have access to a plethora of tools which can sift through data like nobody’s business. On the Windows side you’re a simple install away from having the same power.

This video is all about going outside of FileMaker in order to leverage a treasure trove of tech for parsing HTML and beyond. Watch this video if parsing anything you could ever want out of a web page is something which appeals to you.

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FileMaker Magazine

In the world of software development, you’re basically taking things apart. Adding data here, taking away data there and remixing things. Simply put, it’s all just a matter of how the data needs to be presented to those who wish to see it.

In the first video in this series, we did the data collection and now we need to do something with that data. In most cases, you’re typically going to be parsing data if it’s not in a format ready to be stored. So, we need to parse the custom functions and their details from their source. We’d like to store them in a format which will meet our own objectives.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to parse data. When it comes to native FileMaker parsing, you’re inevitably going to be using Left(), Right(), and Middle(), functions. But, when you’re working with well structured data, such as HTML, you have to do a bit more work than just using a simple Middle() function. That’s what this video is all about.

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FileMaker Magazine

Developing software is simply a matter of solving a problem by organizing and collecting data in a manner which makes the data useful to the end user. So, we’re just a bunch of data organizers and presenters.

One of the biggest benefits to a software developer is their known resources. There are tons of resources available to us every day. Sometimes, it’s a matter of knowing where those resources are and others it’s a matter of taking advantage of what we already have.

In this video, I start a brand new project which will be a Custom Function database. Along the way, while coding the solution, we’ll be taking a look at a lot of features present within the current FileMaker development environment. Learning how decisions are made and what influences them is a great way to learn how to ask questions about your own creation process.

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FileMaker Magazine

Each time a new version of FileMaker is released there are more features and more information about what’s possible with the software. More functionality means more learning in order to take advantage of those features.

There are, however, core features which should be known by all developers. This includes knowing how to script Find mode and building an interface around the search functionality. Knowing how to script an omitted find request may not be super obvious unless you think of Find mode as being the same as Browse mode. Yet, scripting Find mode is exactly like scripting Browse mode. You can create an automated find which can be as complex or as simple as desired. It’s all a matter of translating what you would do with the normal native functionality and wrapping a user interface around it.

That’s what this video is all about. Taking the native methods for finding data sets and putting a user interface around them. When combined with a thought process towards lower maintenance costs, you can create some efficient methods of finding data.

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FileMaker Magazine

It’s so easy with FileMaker, to simply add, add and add some more - especially to the Relationship Graph. You get the request to see a different set of data, and you hop right to it by adding a new relationship and table occurrence.

Wait a second! Each time you add something new to your FileMaker solution you’re making an agreement with yourself that you’re willing to maintain an ever growing garden of technological spaghetti. With a bit of planning and know-how, you can easily satisfy a growing number of data requests by making your portals able to filter out whatever you desire to show.

In this video, I walk through the use of a dynamic portal by way of filtering data using the Custom List function. It’s the ideal solution to being able to see whatever data you want to see from a relationship where the data is already being loaded from FileMaker Server. If you’re interested in a FileMaker solution which both performs well and also offers user flexibility, then you’ll find some answers within this video.

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FileMaker Magazine

I can certainly understand why the Let function isn’t the first thing newer FileMaker developers decide to learn. First, it’s a very complex looking function, and it isn’t inherently obvious in terms of the benefits you’ll receive for knowing it. And, second, it likely just doesn’t show up on the “must-know” radar until you see it used in an effective way.

However, the second you realize its true value, it becomes a must use function. I actually can’t see how someone would develop in FileMaker Pro without using it. It’s the ultimate code organizer. It makes things clean and provides so many opportunities to keep your overall code base much smaller.

In this video, we take a look at the Let function and my top 5 reasons for why you should know and use it. If you’ve got more reasons, then please add comments on the article page!

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FileMaker Magazine

For some developers who are new to FileMaker, they may not come from a background of having worked with SQL or some other query language. Creating joins on the fly, as data is needed, is a foreign concept. Yet, when you create a relationship within the Relationship Graph, you’re creating a join which will be permanent for the life of the file or until deleted. This isn’t the case with SQL based solutions.

With FileMaker, the notion of joins comes in the form of persistent relationships within the Relationship Graph. These persistent joins add to the complexity of your solution but stand at the ready to return whatever data you wish to present.

In this video, I walk through the process of breaking down how to extract specific data via relationships. It’s the dark arts of showing exactly what you want to show on screen or being able to isolate that data using a Go To Related records script step.

Whatever your needs are, knowing how to filter out your desired data is a key skill to have when working with FileMaker Pro.

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FileMaker Magazine

With most software, especially a growing software solution like a FileMaker database, you inevitably end up with settings and preferences. These settings may be used for the solution itself, certain features or even user specific settings. No matter what the settings or preferences, you often need an easy way to manage and access them.

In this video, I showcase a method for handling settings which may be required for a server side script or client side operations. No matter when or how the settings are used, providing an easy way to get at them is always and ideal solution. Using the example of sending an email via an SMTP server, we can take a look at a creative approach to accessing settings which are managed within $$GLOBAL.VARIABLES.

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