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Deleting Duplicates

Database administrators have nightmares about duplicate data entry. There are tons of solutions out there. Which direction do you go? Do you try to prevent duplicate record entry with validation or scripting? Do you let the duplicates get entered and delete the periodically? And, what about merging two records? Maybe it's not a nightmare but at least it's an issue you have to address before allowing users to enter data. This article will discuss the ins and outs of the various methods for deleti

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne


The Downside of Indexing

Most people don't think about indexing when designing a solution. FileMaker automatically turns on indexing when needed so why should they? Indexing can only be good, right? I mean, it makes finds faster. Well, in most situations, indexing is nothing to worry about. But, under certain circumstances, indexing can have an adverse effect on your FileMaker file. Let's talk about how indexing works, where it is used and how it can slow down your solution when unchecked. View the full article

Loss of Focus

I hear it over and over on the forums, "my Tab Control changes to the default tab when I run a script". What initially seems like an innocent little script that adds a new related record by setting a variable to a primary key, switching layouts, creating a record, setting the foreign key and returning to the original layout, becomes a nightmare of fixes to restore focus to the correct tab panel. In fact, loss of focus can happen with a variety of different objects including Portals, Slide Contro

Naming Standards

Just about every serious FileMaker developer has their own personal naming standards for fields, scripts, tables, layouts and anything else that can be named. There's really no correct naming standard. It's all about what works for you and your development style. Still, you need somewhere to start. I'm not just going to provide some specific ideas but the reasoning behind the choices I've made so you can better decide what works well for you. View the full article

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne


Restoring Find Criteria

Let me start by saying, this is the most complex technique in the series of five articles covering the restoration of found sets. The sequence started with an explanation of why it's important to save found sets, followed by simple solutions like creating new windows and collecting serial numbers. I even covered a variety of methods for collecting serial numbers to give readers different tools because every technique has it's time and place. The previous article took a different approach and use

Snapshot Saves

According to the FileMaker online help, the Snapshot Link feature saves a found set of records. But, it saves so much more including the current record, layout, sort order and the mode. The basic idea is to save a Snapshot Link and send it to a colleague via email so they can see what you are viewing. So much more efficient than trying to tell someone in another building or state how to recreate a found set. In this article, we're going to use Snapshot Links to save and restore multiple found se

One-Trick Pony

Don't be a one-trick pony and apply the same FileMaker feature to solve every problem. That's like wearing a tool belt and only putting one tool on it. FileMaker has many options, each with it's own unique advantages and disadvantages. Over-relying on a single tool will result in a subpar solution. Try to learn all the features in FileMaker so you can choose the right instrument for the right job. View the full article

Forum Etiquette

Forums are a great way to get technical advice for FileMaker but for some reason, many people don't think they have to be nice in the electronic world. I was raised to say "please" and "thank you" and that has translated over to the internet for me. But, other folks think the anonymity of cyberspace is an excuse to be a jerk. Some posters are outright offensive and others will just leave snide responses like, "that wasn't much help". News flash! People on the internet are real and you should be

Best of FileMaker Eighteen

It took a while to scour the internet but I finally came up with my favorite videos and articles. I personally read each of these blog articles and watched every one of these videos. I've focused on choosing resources that use specific examples, rather than vague general discussions. I wanted to show off authors who took the discussion of the new FileMaker 18 to the next level and applied them in real-life scenarios. However, I will start off with some web sites that contain good overviews of th

FileMaker Eighteen

Eighteen is the age you become an adult in the United States. In China, it's an auspicious number associated with success. In Hebrew, the word of life has a value of eighteen. It's also a composite number in mathematics, totaling the addition of it's divisors. But, most importantly, it's the latest release from FileMaker! I don't have eighteen different things to cover, just the stuff I find most important which includes scripting, calculations and relationships. I'll do a brief overview of most

Set Field Skills

The Set Field script step is one of the most widely used steps in FileMaker due to it's versatility at moving data around a solution. You can simply transfer data from one field to another or even construct a complicated calculation and then target a field with the result. But that's just skimming the surface of what it can do. Set Field is workhorse script step that has no equal. In this article, I'll discuss seven essential techniques you can perform with Set Field. These concepts are crucial

Custom Menu Creativity

Back in college, when I was working in the computer lab on campus, it was a requirement to know Microsoft Word backwards and forwards. That's because half the students in there were creating resumes. The biggest issue was using spaces to line up columns so I spent a lot of time fixing resumes, for which I got little thanks. Wait! What was I going to talk about? Oh yeah... custom menus. The reason I mention Microsoft Word is I loved a feature that allowed you to customize the menus to my preferen

Google Calendar

As integrators and developers, we have had many requests to integrate a client’s FileMaker solution with Google Calendar. The partnership of a customized database with the flexibility and easy accessibility of an online calendar system is ideal; events can be composed in the CRM of one’s choice, and pushed to the online calendar, where users out and about can access it from their phones, tablets or browsers. But it can be a challenge to connect Database A to Calendar B, so let’s delve a little i


Ahhh... the ubiquitous notes field. Seems simple, right? In a way it is. Just slap down a field and resize it to show more data. Add a scroll bar and you're done. The problems occur when you are trying to locate an important note, print a report or perform a find. Data can be strewn all about a text field that allows free form entry and supports up to ten million characters. Imagine hundreds of different users trying to follow the exact same format for data entry. Pandemonium! This article will

The Beginning

Scripts that run on the opening of a FileMaker file allow you to accomplish so many different tasks. Open scripts can initialize global fields, setup variables, determine which layout to display based on security or platform, perform sub-scripts, install menu sets and so much more. This article will cover some of the most important uses of Open scripts but each FileMaker solution will likely have unique open script steps. View the full article

Back and Forward

I've always been intrigued with how to mimic a web browser's back and forward buttons... as have many other developers. While I don't usually include them in a professional solution, I do find the exercise of creating an airtight historical navigation solution challenging. I prefer well designed navigation over history buttons. Therefore, I present this article as a brain teaser and not necessarily as a recommended solution. But, I'll let you make the decision. I'll go into why I don't think his

Maybe You Missed These

It was almost two years ago that the Philosophy of FileMaker released it's first article. I write new articles almost every two weeks so there's a lot of information to filter at the Philosophy of FileMaker web site. That's why I thought it would be a good idea to talk about my favorite articles from the first year of blogging. You may have missed some of these articles and, if I list my favorites and why they're my favorites, maybe they'll answer long standing questions. View the full article

Duplicating a Portal

Clients are always asking me why the contents of portals do not duplicate along with a record. It makes sense. Portal data looks like it's part of the parent record so it should duplicate just like the local fields, right? After explaining how relationships work, the client still wants the related data to duplicate. The great thing is, the script isn't that difficult to write. There's just a few gotchas, opportunities for efficiency and, of course, the patented Philosophy of FileMaker considerat

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne


Triggers I Can't Live Without

Script triggers often solve problems that otherwise couldn't be overcome. While script triggers are incredibly useful, don't abuse this feature or you may encounter script conflicts. Alternatives to script triggers are auto-enter calculations, manually run scripts and many other FileMaker features. Become familiar with every tool on your belt so you can choose the right feature for the job at hand. Hesitate to use triggers but when they solve the problem better than any other approach, use their

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne


Point in Time

Just about every database contains at least one date, time and timestamp field. Just think about the housekeeping fields for starters. Every table should contain a date and time when a record was created and modified to track record maintenance. I also add manually entered and scripted date fields to almost every table to track when events occur. It ends up being a lot of date fields! While most of your fields will be text, date fields are more commonly calculated and therefore more important to

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne


Conditional Subsummaries

A tremendous amount of reporting power has been packed into FileMaker Pro with an incredibly easy-to-use and flexible interface. The power and simplicity behind adding and deleting parts to organize your pages almost makes it too easy to create a sophisticated printed report. However, when a subsummary group crosses a page break, the subsummary part content doesn't repeat itself, requiring you to flip back and forth between the pages. During my five year tenure at Claris technical support, this

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne


Calendar Conundrum

Everyone wants a calendar in their FileMaker solution these days. There's tons of web viewer solutions out there for purchase that will integrate well with your FileMaker solution. There's even plug-ins to integrate with iCal or Google Calendar. What I'm going to give you today is a taste of how to build a calendar with just standard FileMaker tools. That means no web viewer or complex acronym web code (HTML, CSS, PHP, JSON, JAVA, etc). Just good ole FileMaker calculations, scripting and relatio

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne


Themes Rule

Before you create any layouts, you need to decide on a theme. Choosing a theme is one of the most important decisions you will make for a project. Themes define the user experience more than any other feature in FileMaker. Buttons, backgrounds, Fields, Tab Controls, Portals, Popover Buttons, Slide Controls and just about every object in FileMaker has been thoughtfully designed by interface extraordinaire Heather Winkle. I’m not talking about the tools themselves but how the objects they create a

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne


Weight Lifting

This technique has no real use in the real world. Say what? Yes, you read that correctly! Think of the technique I'm about to cover as weight lifting for your FileMaker mind. It's about solving a complex problem, learning new scripts steps and functions, and generally getting smarter so the next time you tackle a problem you'll be more prepared. I believe in conditioning so much, I often write scripts from scratch I could easily copy and paste. But I digress. All I can say is if you want to buil

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne


Form Letters in Browse

Empowering users of your solution to create their own form letters is life-changing. No longer do they have to contact the developer, explain their needs and go through a back-and-forth testing stage. The developer just designs a single interface that allows the user to create, save, edit and delete their own form letters. It's really not that hard to program either. You just need some global fields, a calculation and a couple of scripts for the foundation of this technique. This approach seems

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

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