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Preferences and Options

I'm no SQL expert but I know when, and when NOT, to use the ExcecuteSQL function. ExecuteSQL is not for creating replicas of portals, despite the numerous examples floating around the internet. It's also not designed to replace the built-in FileMaker find feature, even though it seems to replicate the search abilities of find mode. In fact, there’s really nothing ExecuteSQL can do that a relationship can’t do, it just can do it without a relationship. In other words, it resolves Relationship Graph clutter but, only under under certain circumstances.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Becoming Certified

The most common non-technical question I get is, "how do I become certified" or "how do I study for the certification test"? It's a good question. If you're taking the test seriously then you need to study, right? Not only does it cost a few hundred bucks to sign up but it's an important milestone in your FileMaker career. I mean, why wouldn't you want to have that feather of certification in your proverbial FileMaker hat. It tells clients you have achieved a level of competency that only a couple other thousand people in the world can lay claim. It sets you apart from the rest of the FileMaker crowd in a way that can easily be identified by a logo.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Logically Speaking

Logical functions are some of the most important and widely used functions. Think of decision making when considering logical functions. They enable you to decide if a formula will return one result or another. Which fork in the road will the formula take? Testing for true or false is often referred to as boolean in the FileMaker interface so get used to the terminology. While it is common for amateur developers to overuse these functions, if utilized properly, they are extremely powerful. Logical functions include Case, If, IsEmpty and Choose, to name a few of the most important.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Efficiency

The old saying that time is money is more than just a saying. The faster you can develop a project, the more money you can make as a commercial developer or, the more time you can devote to other projects as an in-house developer. Being as efficient as possible is the key to success. That's the primary difference between amateurs and experts. Balancing speed with quality is challenging though but, can be done. As you gain experience, quality and speed will both increase naturally, especially if you strive to improve in the primary areas listed below.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Keeping the Faith

Steven Blackwell almost always starts a phone call with "greetings and salutations" and often ends with another famous quote, "keep the faith". I've never asked what he means but I'm pretty sure it's not religious. Steven Blackwell loves the FileMaker platform and he likes other people who feel the same as he does. Keeping the faith is just trusting in the FileMaker platform. I'm also pretty sure he didn't start using this quote when he started developing FileMaker solutions. It's just how he sees everything in life. When he believes in something, he gives it his all. I appreciate that about him so much. But, let me introduce you to him first since you may not know him as well as I do.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Planning

I like to compare the process of creating a database solution to the construction of a house. If you start by hiring a contractor, you probably won’t get the house of your dreams. The first step is to hire an architect. You tell the architect you want five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a man cave and a swimming pool and he designs a house based on your specifications. The architect then shares the plans with you so you can validate his design. Maybe you decide to change a few things. The architect takes your input and create new plans. The process can go back and forth until the plans are satisfactory. The same process is necessary for proper database design so let me walk you through the steps to success.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Subsummary Sandwich

The biggest mistake I see amateur developers make is using relationships and calculations to create reports. They work great in single-user mode with test records. Put that same solution in a multi-user environment with thousands of records and performance starts to grind to a halt. Add a WAN into the mix and it degrades the speed even further. The same is true for dashboards which often use the same techniques. The aim of this article is to teach standard reporting methods for beginners and seasoned developers alike. While the topics include mostly beginner and intermediate subjects, we'll dive into a couple advanced examples at the end.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Window Naming

So, what's wrong with the default window name given by FileMaker? Imagine a user of your solution has multiple windows spawned on a small screen and goes to the Window menu to select the desired window. Without good window management, all he sees is "CONTACTS", "CONTACTS - 2", "CONTACTS - 3" and so on. With good window management, you can make it easy for users to quickly find the window they want without cycling through all of them.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

The Front Door

Close scripts generally aren’t very important in a FileMaker solution, especially a multi-user solution, but Open scripts should be employed on just about every solution created. Open scripts setup up your solution for the user, making it easier to use. In the following paragraphs, there are many examples of common Open script snippets you can include in your own solutions but Open scripts are as varied as there are developers and the solutions they create. The ideas in this chapter are just a starting point but the discussions that ensue will deepen your FileMaker theory.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Modular Scripting

When you start writing scripts for the first time, they are fairly simple and can be understood quickly. Even weeks or months down the line, the name of the script should be enough to identify the functionality. As your scripts increase in complexity, you need to consider modular scripting. Modular scripting is essentially writing your scripts in pieces and connecting the pieces with a parent script.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

FileMaker Videos

I normally don't like to directly advertise products and services on this blog but there is real FREE content here. What I'm going to do is provide inline videos from part one of my new FileMaker 16 three part video series. I'll discuss why the lessons are important and provide some insight as to how they fit into the whole of the videos series. Happy FileMaking!
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Compare and Contrast

In this article, multiple scripts will be created to accomplish the same task. This may seem silly at first but, it's an important exercise to learn the best approach to a problem. If you are new to this concept, you should actually build the different scripts to cement the concept in your mind. I've been using this methodology for a very long time so it just comes naturally. In fact, most of the work occurs in my head. In time, the process will become second nature and you will find yourself building more efficient and capable scripts.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

FileMaker by Beginner

I was asked to write an article about my experiences, troubles, pitfalls and recommendations to those starting out with FileMaker. I find many times, and this applies to any industry, when experts help beginners, the experts forget what it was like to be a beginner. While the expert is generous with his or her advice, although perfectly accurate, it sails over the beginners head. The beginner just doesn’t have the experience and tools to digest and disseminate the advice offered. On many of the FileMaker help forums, I see many people who get a copy of FileMaker, jump right in to making their first database and quickly run into trouble and frustration. I know their pain, because I made some of the same errors. Hopefully some of the tips, based on my experience will help the beginners avoid my errors.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Sweet Sixteen

The new release schedule, designed to get fresh versions of FileMaker to the public faster, is in full swing with the release of FileMaker 16. It took the FileMaker 16 development team just one year to program a fully featured upgrade with changes to Pro, Go, Server and WebDirect. A truly amazing feat. While FileMaker 15 was a platform upgrade, with few visible changes to Pro or Advanced, FileMaker 16 focuses back on the desktop application we all love to program. Everything begins at the desktop so it really should be the center of attention in every FileMaker release IMHO! I think this version will leave experienced developers very satisfied.
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FileMaker and the Real World

FileMaker is an incredibly versatile and scalable platform, but it is genuinely unique in the way it allows you to solve real world problems quickly, efficiently and super cost effectively. I work for a company that manufactures water softeners (the best ones actually) and I was asked to solve a particular problem we were having in diagnosing rare cases of abnormal operation in the field. In this case study, FileMaker was a perfect fit!
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FileMaker vs Web

One of the most common FileMaker fallacies is a web browser client will save money. I hear it almost weekly from the people who contact me directly. I get it. Everyone wants to save money. But, just because a web browser is free doesn't mean it saves you money. This article will consider specific points about why a FileMaker client provides a better experience for the user than a web browser at the same price.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Scripting Primer

What is FileMaker Pro scripting? It can be defined as automation, a macro and even a programming language. FileMaker Pro scripting has elements of all these definitions. The original purpose of scripting was to automate the mundane task of printing a report. Since it repeats most of the items under the menus, it can also be considered a macro language. Yet, it is so much more! With logical branching, it can even be considered a programming language. The FileMaker Pro Script Workspace is a beautifully designed environment that enables you to create a solution as good as any commercial product on the market. This scripting primer well tell you everything you need to know before you write your first script.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

KISS

In the last few years, I've subscribed to the KISS methodology (Keep It Simple Stupid). Call it wisdom or humility, I'm not sure which. All I know is, after over two decades in the FileMaker market, I've discovered the simplest solution is most often best for my clients. It costs less and performs better, in most cases. I know all the tricks, having practically wrote the book on the subject, but there is a time and a place for complex methods. What I'm here to convince you is, choose complicated techniques carefully.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Ultimate Find

When I first started teaching FileMaker scripting, I went through the entire list of script steps and provided a simple example of each one. By the end of the third day, we had covered every script step but with no depth. More questions remained than were answered. That’s when I decided to focus on the most important steps. Instead of spending valuable time teaching scripts steps most people would never use in real life scenarios, I decided to concentrate on steps that are used over and over and have tons of depth. That’s how I developed my "Ultimate Find" script. It’s a great way to start your journey into advanced scripting, demonstrating important concepts and sophisticated techniques with key script steps, all in one little script. Besides, every good solution needs a well designed find script.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Robust FileMaker Design

Have you ever inherited a system built by someone else, changed a field’s name and everything stopped working? The issue, hardcoded names used in indirection, makes the system fragile. FileMaker provides developers many methods to add flexibility using indirection. However when these instances of indirection are not treated properly they will raise all sorts of problems. In this article we will discuss good practices regarding indirection that will help you build a dynamic and robust FileMaker system.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Phone Filter Part Two

This is part 2 of the phone filtering solution. If you haven't read then it's a good idea to start there. Even if you are familiar with filtering phone numbers already and just want to read about the recursive version, it's still best to read part 1 to familiarize yourself with the approach. And, you never know, you might find a nugget of truth!
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Phone Filter (Part 1)

Phone formatting is one of my favorite techniques because it teaches so many important concepts. The interaction between a complex formula, auto-entry and validation is fascinating to me. There are so many possibilities, as well as potential hazards, when combining different components. When you get the hang of it, there is nothing like the feeling of weaving a new ability through the union of multiple features.
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John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

 

Phone Filter Part One

Phone formatting is one of my favorite techniques because it teaches so many important concepts. The interaction between a complex formula, auto-entry and validation is fascinating to me. There are so many possibilities, as well as potential hazards, when combining different components. When you get the hang of it, there is nothing like the feeling of weaving a new ability through the union of multiple features.
View the full article

John Mark Osborne

John Mark Osborne

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