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FP7 learning curve a "no go" with boss


JoanieAKBoat
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A little feedback to share. I downloaded the FP7 Trial Version and ran into trouble converting my 6 related files, i.e. maintaining the relationships, dealing with the security system, etc. Upon further inquiry I found that the "migration" to FP7 will take some time to facilitate, as per the pdf on "planning your migration". My boss is already up in arms with the cost of upgrading each of our networked licenses whenever Filemaker comes up with a new version, and now he is outraged that the upgrade isn't streamlined enough for easy conversion. I have been doing my best to keep his costs down by managing to network with the compatible versions 5, 5.5, and 6 and have been anxiously looking forward to the upgrade in which we'll all be on the same version! He is now unwilling to 'invest' in 5 more FP6 upgrades (the same price of an FP7 upgrade) and is fine with leaving things 'as they are because they're working just fine'. I'm curious how many other small business owners are having a problem with the cost in time to learn the new version. Anyone else? Can we foresee an easier migration in ,say, FP7.1?

FileMaker Version: 6

Platform: Mac OS X Jaguar

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Upward migration is always an issue in my opinion. The question for a small business owner comes down to what will it do for me that it isn't already doing?

I designed a system 10 years ago that many businesses have been using and I have updated it along the way, but it does everything THEY want it to do, so many just won't bother to spend. I even have some that are still using it in FP3. Now I know that some may think that I should do a better job of being more compelling for an upgrade. Fact is, they like, it works, so why spend?

Going to 7 is no small task. The further we get into the knowledge i believe the easier it will become. Developers must learn 7 if they expect to continue doing custom work outside of runtimes, as the buyers at some point will have to buy 7 and not 6... v6 will eventually go away. Issues for small business are coupled with hardware requirements and installed base of other software that might have to change if the hardware changes. And so it goes...

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I can understand your boss. If your current files are doing everything you want them to, and cost is a big factor (it sounds like it is), then there's no reason to upgrade in the near future. I would still keep messing about with 7 though, because someday you might decide you need to, and then you'd still be facing the same learning curve, if not worse.

Did you convert the multiple files correctly? The best way is to drop their folder onto the FileMaker icon, doing them all at once. You shouldn't convert them one at a time like with 6. If they are in nested folders (a complex solution), then begin with the bottom folder. I've had few problems so far doing it that way.

Security seems to be a problem at first. If a file doesn't open with its password, try blanking out the user name, just the password. It works as you expect after you go in and rename the Accounts to something.

All and all I find that many things are more or less the same, often slightly enchanced. A few things are different and must be checked carefully after conversion and kept in mind when developing. Yes, it's a lot more drastic than going from v.4 to v.5 (or even from 3 to 6). But it's still FileMaker.

You must read the documents available at:

http://www.filemaker.com/upgrade/techbriefs.html

There is another "big" one promised, with more details on migrating, but it's a little late (early April :)-?, any day now).

Here's a killer feature, which is simply not available in 6, and will be useful in many normal business situations, "recursive" calculations. I can't explain it properly. I can just say that it allows a calculation to depend on another calculation, which in turn depends on the first. This could not be done before, FileMaker would stop you.

An example, which we saw here a few days ago. A timeline where they wanted to be able to either calculate the line or edit the entries. It was easy in 7, really a mess to do in 6 (if even possible).

Another great time saver is passing a parameter with a script. In something like a calendar, where you have lots of repetitive scripts, only differing by the date they pass. Now only 1 script with different parameters.

I'm currently working on a solution for "synchronizing" files between local and portable files. Yes, it can be done in v.6. But in 7 you can actually see and set the file references. Much easier and safer. (BTW, conversion lets you see redundant ones you had in your v.6 files.)

Triggering an "auto-enter" calculation whenever one of its fields is edited. I could go on. I'm learning also. There's a curve for sure, but there are commensurate returns.

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The stuff now possible in FMP 7 is just amazing. Not just database processing stuff, but interface stuff as well like multiple windows.

Simply converting a solution over to FMP 7 isn't going to activate all of these new features: in most instance major redesigns will be required.

I think that most experienced developers will agree when I say that we're all grinding our way up the learning curve. It's not steeper in 7 than 6, there's just so much more to learn!

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JoanieAKBoat,

Don't take this the wrong way, but I would suggest migrating the existing databases on your own time. While the obvious drawback is that you'd be working for free during your much-needed spare time, the benefits are numerous. Besides the obvious, which include eating much of the cost of migrating for your boss, and proving your dedication to him/her and the company for which you work, the biggest plus is that it will throw you head-first into the new version. There's no better way to learn than to have a tangible project to work on. In seeing what didn't migrate correctly, you'll become more familiar with a lot of the newer features in FM7, including permissions, script steps, calculation functions, etc.

I've started re-building my client manager in FM7, from scratch (and obviously no one is paying me), and because of that I feel like I know FM7 as well as I know earlier versions (though I constantly find out new things).

If FileMaker development is something you're into, or something you want to be involved with at future jobs, you simply cannot afford to sit by and idly watch as new versions come out just because your boss refuses to upgrade. You probably will not be working at this company for the rest of your life; you need to stay marketable.

FileMaker Version: 7

Platform: Windows XP

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I feel your pain... but that won't help you. I had a similar problem until I came upon a business problem that could only be solved be FP7 and that made the difference.

As for conversion versus rewriting when migrating... while there may be any number of simple solutions suitable to conversion, my more complex solution proved to be very problematic. Besides, as others have mentioned, a simple conversion doesn't take advantage of the upgrade.

In terms of streamlining the upgrade further... in order for FMI to make the amazing advances they've made with 7 there are so many fundamental changes that require a developer's discretion that I can't see how further streamlining would be possible or maybe even desireable. After all, the point of upgrading is to benefit from new features, many of which simply don't translate from an older version. There is a tool called FMRobot that helps to combine multiple file into one file with multiple tables but it still can't deal with nearly all of the issues that a developer can when rewriting.

As an example, in the solution I'm rewriting I am with great discretion and interaction cutting and pasting were applicable from an FP6 version to preserve reusable work and speed up the process. But since in FP7 I won't need many of the fields, compound keys, scripts and relationships etc. I don't want to recreate (or convert) those and there would be little or no way for a streamlined conversion model to make those intelligent decisions.

I don't know how much this will help with your boss but maybe it will assist you in establishing realistic expectations for a more streamlined conversion process. The decision of upgrading is a business decision requiring a ROI that makes sense to your boss. You as mentioned above, you may have to do some extra work to build the case for the ROI in your particular situation if it's important to you to make the change.

Good Luck,

Doug

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Thank you, guys, for the great feedback!

As much as they/we might not like it, the reality of living in the computer age is upgrades and planned obsolecense. The part that irks my "boss" is that he is forced to pay for it - it's not so much the money as the ethics to him - and the reality is, as you say - FM6 WILL be going away.

Fenton asked did I convert files correctly? I dropped the files onto the FM7 icon - they appeared to convert but I could never get past the password/account issue. I'll play with that some more, as per your advice, thanks. One of the biggest solution problems I run into is when he wants a field to be "automated but editable". I continually do work-arounds, hearing what he wants ("I'm sure you can make a button that'll do that..."), and translating it into filemaker-ese. It sounds like FM7 could offer some welcome relief in that arena. I could very much look forward to redesigning this system - and I hear your enthusiasm - for it has been completely custom built as both the company and my FMP knowledge have grown. I just don't know if I'm willing to learn 7 on my own time and my own dime. (Don't know where I'd go with this knowledge after this.....)

So, all in all - what I'm hearing from you guys is I've got to do a better job at convincing him that eventually he'll need this. I've definitely considered buying my own FM7 version and playing with it - but, hey, its getting to be summertime in Alaska! The dark winter is almost over and the days are getting longer!.... perhaps that's a fall project and he'll be more open to it then. Thanks again for the time and thought you each put into your responses.

Joanie

PS I just found this group and I'm still going to need help in FM 6!!!

FileMaker Version: 6

Platform: Mac OS X Jaguar

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First of all... you mention a password/account issue. I'm not clear on what your issue is. Be aware that passwords are case sensitive in 7.

Second... as far as fields that are "automated" (do you mean calculating) but editable... in 6 or 7 this simple technique workd if I understand your need correctly. Create an additional editable field of the appropriate type ie. text or number... then whe you create your calculation check to see if it is empty.

Example:

ExtendedCost =

Case(IsEmpty(EditableNumber), Quantity * UnitCost, EditableNumber)

Let me know if I understood your situation. If so did this help?

Doug

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Boss has a point. However, you are the developer, you are the one to have to show them what they need and why. Any developer who is not investigating this sort of thing on their own time (a bit) might want to look for another line of work. I'll bet everyone here does this a bit on their own time. So, don't ask to redo the projects, just ask for a copy of the sw. If your boss won't even buy you the FM7, I'd say look for another job. (Not that anyone ever listens to me, I'm just a tripod.)

FileMaker Version: Dev 7

Platform: Mac OS X Panther

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Or get a trial copy and once it expires, change your system date back to one day prior. That's the only way I can afford a copy of 7 right now to test and tweak. ooo.gif

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-Queue- said:

Or get a trial copy and once it expires, change your system date back to one day prior. That's the only way I can afford a copy of 7 right now to test and tweak. ooo.gif

or join the FSA at the subsriber level for 249 bucks. Get FM7 and FMM 2.1 (Note FMM 2.1 does not work with FM7) and a year of the FSA Tech Talk. Anyone thinking of buying a single copy of FM 7 might consider going this route. North America might be different in terms of the FSA items offered so check it out before you buy if not in North America.

FileMaker Version: Dev 7

Platform: Mac OS X Panther

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