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John Mark Osborne

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John Mark Osborne last won the day on February 2 2017

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About John Mark Osborne

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    FileMaker Expert
  • Birthday 03/22/1967

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    Chino Hills, CA
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  1. John Mark Osborne

    Parsing for Features

    Data parsing isn't just for manipulating data into a preferred format. You can also create features that weren't otherwise possible with standard FileMaker tools. That's one of the things I love about FileMaker. Instead of giving you a one-dimensional menu item to support a specific need, like Microsoft, FMI gives you multidimensional tools. By combining two or more tools, you can can create a new capability in a FileMaker solution. One of the most overlooked tools are the text and value functions. I aim to demonstrate several examples in this article that highlight how parsing can make wine out of water. View the full article
  2. John Mark Osborne

    Parsing A Web Form

    Have you ever gone back to modify a script six months later and wondered what the heck you did? Even with all the commenting and documentation, it still takes you a while to relearn the script. And, what if you want to move the script to another solution. You have to modify it to match the layout, field and table names in the new database. Dynamic scripting is about creating smart solutions. If you program a script with intelligence, it can adapt to layout, field, table and file modifications. It takes a lot of practice but can ultimately save you a lot of time and make you a better programmer. View the full article
  3. John Mark Osborne

    Data Parsing

    Imagine receiving a file from a client, or your boss, with improperly delimited data. It's actually quite common. Just because someone can build a database, doesn't mean they can properly structure it. A common scenario is for the first and last name fields to be in the same column but you never know what you are going to encounter so it's best to be well versed with the text functions in FileMaker. In fact, data parsing can actually assist in creating features that weren't otherwise possible! That's why I consider data parsing one of the most important skill sets for database developers. View the full article
  4. John Mark Osborne

    Anatomy of a Calculation

    FileMaker calculation formulas allow you to add, subtract, multiply and compare values with operators. If you are familiar with spreadsheets like Excel or Numbers, it will help you to understand FileMaker calculations. However, FileMaker Pro calculations go much further and enable you to manipulate text, work with dates, ascertain the status of FileMaker Pro, make decisions and much more. Rather than covering any specific calculation formulas in detail, the aim of this article is to focus on providing a good foundational knowledge for the complex calculations you will encounter as an aspiring FileMaker developer. View the full article
  5. John Mark Osborne

    Seven for Seventeen

    There's a lot of FileMaker 17 content on YouTube. It's hard to tell which material is the best so you can optimize your learning. You could spend hours trying to find the right video to answer all your questions about FileMaker 17. I've gone through a lot of the videos on YouTube and here are my favorites. Hopefully this will save you a ton of time. Let me know in the comments area below if I've forgotten an incredible video. View the full article
  6. John Mark Osborne

    Seventeen is Prime

    Last year was sweet sixteen. This year is prime seventeen. That's the best title I could come up with after Googling the number seventeen. Not much out there for this number. While seventeen is a prime number, prime can also describe the new FileMaker 17, adding features that will change the way you develop your FileMaker solutions. Seriously! Also, I'm going to focus on desktop enhancements but I'm sure there are many bloggers out there who will talk at length about FileMaker Go and FileMaker Server enhancements, of which there are many. View the full article
  7. John Mark Osborne

    Interface Ease

    Good interface design should be instantly recognizable and immediately useable. Creating an appealing layout is easy with themes. Designing a functional layout is another story. There are many techniques out there for developing intuitive interfaces but I prescribe to the grid. Grid interfaces provide a clean, organized and calming effect on users. Your interface design can make or break the success of your project, so design carefully by starting with a well designed form and list layout based on the grid system. Not only will the grid system be covered but a plethora of other interface tips, tricks and guidelines for creating successful interfaces without a ton of effort. View the full article
  8. John Mark Osborne

    File Freedom

    In my two decade career, I've only seen corrupt files while working in technical support. I was in technical support for five long years but even then it was not a common occurrence. Rarely have I encountered a corrupt file while working with a client or in my own personal FileMaker solutions. With good file management practices, your FileMaker file can live a long and happy life, free of corruption. I'm not saying corruption doesn't happen, it's just rare. Still you need to be prepared if the FileMaker God's choose your file for repair. This article will explain how corruption occurs, how to avoid it and how to fix it if needed. View the full article
  9. John Mark Osborne


    I've mentioned FLF (Find-List-Form) in several other articles on this web site but I think it's so important that I wanted to devote an entire article to the subject. So many developers have moved so far away from the roots of FileMaker that they almost don't even know what they are. Then they teach other budding FileMaker developers wacky workarounds for something that is so easy to accomplish with basic FileMaker tools, and these impressionable minds think it's always the right approach. Yes, sometimes we need a good workaround but most of the time we just need good FileMaker fundamentals. View the full article
  10. John Mark Osborne

    Stuff Ya Oughta Know

    Some things in FileMaker require an entire article to explain thoroughly. Others are just a paragraph of description but are no less important to your FileMaker professional career. Some people call them tips but I like to think of them as nuggets of truth. The stuff in this article was hand picked by myself based on the criteria of how important they were to me when designing a successful solution in FileMaker. I've probably forgotten to mention so many cool tips I use on a daily basis but this is what came to me when writing this article. Feel free to throw out your own personal ideas in the comments below. I'd love to hear about your nuggets of truth! View the full article
  11. John Mark Osborne

    Alternatives to Serial Numbers

    In this final article from a series of four articles, I want to cover alternatives to restoring records using serial numbers and relationships. The first method I will cover uses the Snapshot Link feature and is fairly straightforward. Just a few issues with interface to overcome. The second is a script to save and restore find criteria. Restoring find criteria is no walk in the park. Strap on your galoshes cause we'll be wading through muddy waters. There are also various advantages and disadvantages of each technique that you'll want to pay close attention to so you can choose the right approach for the right situation. View the full article
  12. John Mark Osborne

    Collecting Unique Values

    Since Darren Terry published his infamous article on saving found sets for future retrieval in 1996, a lot has changed in FileMaker. The additions from the last thirteen versions of FileMaker offer many alternatives for amassing unique identifiers. The differences in collection methods mostly come down to speed but there are a few other considerations that shouldn't be overlooked. However, restoring records remains the same, relying on the humble Go to Related Record (GTRR), and will not be discussed in this article. I also won't be able to point specifically to the originators of the additional methods for collecting unique values as they have been lost in the vastness of time. For all I know, I was the first to come up with some of these techniques. View the full article
  13. John Mark Osborne

    Saving a Found Set

    Found sets are what make a database a database. Without found sets, a database wouldn't be much more than a relational spreadsheet. Found sets determine which records print, sort, export and preview. Practically all features in FileMaker are structured by the found set. Sometimes you have to break the found set, current record or sort order, unbeknownst to the user. Maybe the user is running a script that does something very complex that requires destroying one of these elements. The user doesn't care how difficult it is to program a feature. The user just wants a smooth experience. If you have to change the found set, current record or sort order, you had better restore it. The only person who should modify the records showing is the user himself. In this followup article, I will demonstrate how to permanently save found sets. View the full article
  14. John Mark Osborne

    Preserving Found Sets

    Imagining a database without found sets is like picturing a bird without feathers. It just doesn't make sense. Found sets are the essence of a database. If there were no found sets, you would need to sort your entire list of records and scroll to find a record. To say the least, this would be an inefficient process... especially if you have more than a thousand records. Found sets are what make a database a database. Not only do finds allow you to locate a specific record but they also enable you to perform actions on a subset of records like importing, exporting, printing, sorting and looping, to name just a few. With such a far-reaching effect on the processes in FileMaker, found sets often need to be preserved and/or reloaded. "Save" is a good word to describe what I'm going to talk about in this article but there are all kinds of saves. Some saves are temporary and other are more permanent. Being able to work with different save techniques is crucial to applying the best method to the task at hand. View the full article
  15. John Mark Osborne

    Multi-User Contradistinction

    How you design a FileMaker solution often depends on how it will be accessed. Is it a single-user solution running off the local hard drive? Is it a multi-user database with all users accessing from the LAN? Maybe there is a occasional remote access from someone at home? What if the company is distributed across the United States and needs a completely cloud based solution? Maybe some users won't always have an internet connection? It could be that some users don’t even have FileMaker? These are some important questions to ask yourself or your client before beginning the design phase of a solution. View the full article

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