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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

    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 understand. When I teach a beginner course on FileMaker calculations, I always cover the function groups for text, date, time and logical because they are the most important. Being able to manipulate date and time data, but especially dates, will help you become a successful FileMaker developer so study this article carefully. View the full article
  2. 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 was one of the top ten requested features. Twenty years later and there's still no way to attach a calculation formula to a part much like you can with Access Privileges to create conditional records. At least add a check box to repeat the subsummary part contents at a page break. Until some future upgrade, parts obey one set of rules embedded in the FileMaker code base. For now, your best bet is to employ workarounds for conditionally calculating subsummary content. View the full article
  3. 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 relationships in this article. View the full article
  4. 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 appear to users. Having a good looking and consistent interface starts with a good theme View the full article
  5. 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 build up your FileMaker muscles and learn some new tricks then keep reading. View the full article
  6. 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 like less income for the developer but that's shortsighted. I always say happy clients equal more business! View the full article
  7. John Mark Osborne

    Context and Relationships

    Context is everything! Haven’t you ever had something you said taken out of context and then tried, desperately, to figure out how to get yourself out of the hole you just, inadvertently, dug for yourself? The same goes with relationships. In life, as in FileMaker, they can be tricky and, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can get yourself in a whole mess of trouble. This article is really for newbies to FileMaker; anybody who has been working with FileMaker for a while will, or should, know this stuff so it’s very basic but, hopefully, it will have some value. View the full article
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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

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