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Eliminating the Flash Effect

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I hear Macs are more friendly in this regard - the annoying flash produced when moving through records on a form layout. It bothers me and it bothers several of my Users. crazy.gif

What can I do to reduce/eliminate the flash effect? Here are some specific things I've wondered ...

1) Buttons vs. rectangles - are they different as far as resource use or flash or are buttons simply a pre-defined format to make things easy on us? BTW for those with FM7 - Embossed buttons placed in containers no longer lose their great look!

2) Does grouping text with rectangle (or button) reduce or increase flash? Or grouping text with graphic? Or doesn't it matter at all?

3) I have read that setting fill patterns to oblique reduces flash, is that true? And on everything (graphics, text)? So I match text on rectangles to the underlying color and even set a graphic's fill to oblique.

4) I try to keep graphics to a minimum, but I do stack buttons and rectangles (and text) to create effects and borders. Would it help to turn my underlying layout into one graphic which I then paste onto my form (as layout object)? Or even display it via global container? Would that be worse or better than 30 smaller overlapping rectangles, buttons and text? Does the size of the graphic make a difference? I use a global container to hold a color swatch which creates a panel at the top (25 px by 980) and another (350 px by 980) on bottom half of layout (I keep everthing within screen size). Is it better to have two copies of the container on the layout or only one container (the full size) and then place things on top?

5) I use global calculation repetititons to display tab labels, etc. Does this increase flash? I usually have one or two calculations also displayed (which I make oblique and turn off entry) and I rarely display aggregate calculations. How do these elements affect flash?

6) On Customer Detail page I may have one 600 px-wide portal with 6 rows and one 200 px-wide portal with 3 rows. I try not to overpower my forms with them and I use windows or layout switches whenever possible. But I turn off all 'Allow Entry' into fields on portals, as well as deselect 'Allow Creation' in relationships. I always place transparent rectangle (one of the few allowances I make) over portal row and handle everything via script. I put my portal fill pattern to oblique in addition to obliquing all portal fields. What is the best way to handle portals.

7) Other things to consider? Please share with me ... wink.gif

Some flash, I realize, I'll have to live with (being windows), but I hope you can help me come up with some "Flash Elimination Rules" so I can consider these issues as I put together my design elements. smile.gif


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some points I have learned.

Grouping and watching layers definitely helps. Group button parts and then button sets into larger groups. And try to get all the buttons and stuff in the back and pull all your fields to the front of the layout. (Use the send to back, send backward, send to front, send forward menu selections do do this)

Merge fields. use merge fields for data display, also for data that shouldn't be changed, make sure that 'enter into field' is not checked off.

these things seem to help me.


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My 1,000th post is appropriately a question. Please everyone, give me all your thoughts on this. We windows users deal with this more than Macs and any flash at all bothers me. It looks cheap. So grouping objects does help? Thank you so much for the ideas, Jerry! smile.gif

I reviewed Business Tracker also because it flashes terribly on Detail pages (when forward/back through records) using arrow buttons. I thought it was a graphics thing but Andy Gaunt caught the problem on that one! It had Freeze Window before its Previous & Next scripts!?! Major flash was produced! Why in the world would Freeze Window be there and particularly on one produced from FM? Thanks for identifying that one Andy! cool.gif and I'm going to add that to my list of flash producers for sure. Anyone else have 'flash producers' they could share that we can isolate why? Or have other thoughts on the subject?


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Sorry for my bad English.

My mac is a G4 450Mhz. in 9.2.2 (Fm6) The screen almost dance.

I put my solution in a pc 2Ghz and the movement between the records or the layout are 10 times smother. So I think A huge percent of flash depend on the speed of the pc and the graphic card.

"""Would it help to turn my underlying layout into one graphic which I then paste onto my form (as layout object)?"""

No... this not a solution.

One graphic layout 600x800 is 1.38M (even if in jpg format is only 60kb. 60kb is when it is closed. when you open this graphic the pc calculate the 1.38M image and bring it in front of you) if you have 10 deferent layouts this job becomes very heavy for the pc.

On the other hand if you have an image/color with 1x1 pixel size the process to enlarge that pixel in 600x800 is much faster.

Lets say you put in Separate "buttons layout" one aqua button 16x40 pixels. lets say that you copy it from here to use it 20 times in the "10 real layouts" The Fm pro store the button ones and the appearance calculated once. So... its a good idea to write the text on the buttons in Fmpro.

If every button comes with the text in bitmap the 20 buttons is 20 different buttons so the Fmpro has to calculate 20 times.

Other tips...

-Prefare PNG format for your graphics. is by far the speediest format after the native FmPro graphics

I put 150 button 20x20 pixels in one layout in tiff/jpg/png format to experiment tiff and jpg wants 4 seconds to appear and the png buttons 0.1

-Use Fm 7. My previews exable with my Mac is not exists any more

Sorry again for my really bad English.

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I forgot...!

The fileMaker pro solutions is files not applications. The GUI is face, not real.

As a file is very logical to flash.

An example

My job is Graphic designer. I work in Quark, photoshop, Illustrator etc

The Quark Xpress is 200 time faster from the second fastest Page layout programme. (finds a "the" and replace it whith "there" in a 200.000 words text in 2 sec. <<results 5.236>>)

But when you go from one document to other flashes.

the same think in photoshop.

if you watch the menu bar or tool palettes of the applications they don't flash.

the same think in Filemaker pro if you watch the menu bar it stays cool...



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Hi George,

Thank you for the ideas and also for the additional information on another post on the basic subject. As I design (and change my designs), I have noticed subtle (and not so subtle) variations in the flash effect produced as I manipulate my layout objects. I may not be able to eliminate it, but I can certainly reduce its effect by becoming more aware of the issues which produce it.

Hey Jerry! Merge fields certainly do make a difference. Thanks! That's going on my list, too! smile.gif

A great design must have both elements - good structure and code and a User-friendly interface. Flash <> friendly in my opinion. And I will not be satisfied until I've taken advantage of every possible technique to minimize its effect. And George, you've given me a lot to play with. I will certainly try everything you both have suggested in every combination and watch the changes that occur.

George said...On the other hand if you have an image/color with 1x1 pixel size the process to enlarge that pixel in 600x800 is much faster.

Well, this doesn't work on XP. The container produces a white fade on the right and bottom of the container. One must paste a graphic the same size as the container (or larger) to eliminate this fading effect. It doesn't matter if reduce/enlarge is checked, or whether Maintain proportion is checked. And since my backgrounds are usually FM native, it's a shame I have to paste 990x630px 'swatches' into a background container.

Thanks again, guys. smile.gif


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I recently ran across a file named "Flash Arrest," in the [ Resources ] section of the http://www.databasepros.com site. Click on the "new" graphic, and it's on the 2nd page.

At the bottom of the 1st page is "Hidden Plug-in," which shows how to trigger a script on field exit, using the Example plug-in included with FileMaker Developer.

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Fenton! Thanks for pointing out Flash Arrest. And my list continues to grow ...

If anyone has a file that flashes excessively and can't figure out why, it would be great to get my hands on it. There may be other issues we haven't identified that contribute to the problem or instances where a certain combination increases the problem. I want to identify them all. smile.gif

I'm not implying we can (or should) eliminate everything that contributes to flash ... only that, if we're aware of all the issues, we can make informed decisions and trade-offs while designing. wink.gif


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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 year later...

Andreas, I apologize ... I never saw your post. I had forgotten to save this as a favorite so I didn't receive notice of response on this thread and it somehow slipped by me. crazy.gif

I usually perform a Freeze Window[] before switching layouts.

I'm back on this thread because I've noticed something which almost totally eliminates the flash effect on my Windows OS designs (even for complex, multi-layered, graphic and portal-ridden layouts) and I don't recall it particularly being discussed.

I've known for some time that the layout stacking order is important, ie, the sequence in which objects are added to the layout. During slow redraw (such as intensive-calc portal) it's very obvious which objects were added last (as compared to first) because they draw onto the layout in the same order. I've used these 'slow-redraw' layouts as my test fields because the flash sequencing is more obvious.

Pattern observed: If I selected two or three objects, copied them to clipboard, cut (deleted) them, saved my changes, then pasted them back again, those three items appeared to then occupy the 'exact same stacking order' on the layout, ie, they were all drawn on the layout simultaneously. Well what if I pasted ALL objects back on a layout at one time AFTER all design changes are made?

Yep. Now every time I place a new object on a layout - or change any object's stacking order or layering, I Edit > Select All, Copy, Cut, Save the layout, and then Paste again. All objects take on a new sychronized stack order. Then (while all are still selected), I Arrange > Group, Arrange > Lock.

Of course you should also apply the other techniques mentioned (graphic background colors matching layout colors, etc). But this one step has produced the most significant reduction in my flash of all techniques applied!!

Oh. Because I have graphic at 0/0 top left on all layouts, I just paste in top left corner and I get the perfect consistent location of re-placing my layouts. If you don't have something top/left 0/0, just write down the top two px numbers in your Object size box immediately after copy. Then after paste (while all objects are still selected), change the top two figures in Object Size to your original numbers. All objects will pop into place. Then Group & Lock them.

LaRetta grin.gif

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  • 3 weeks later...

LaRetta>> Looks that you have found a key to eliminating that anoying flash effect, good job!

I was just wondering, you say you group all the objects after you have pasted them. Isn't that a problem if you for an example want to change which script a buttons calls? My experience is that you'll loose their function when you ungroup them....

And then you will have to redo the tab-order on every layout... but still it's wonderful to kiss some of the flash goodbye ;)

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Hi David,

Grouping objects AFTER specifying their scripts will not remove the scripts when then ungrouping them. Only if one were to attach a script to a group set. And each object script still fires independently also. ;)

I admit that, when I want to modify anything on a layout I must then unlock and ungroup first. But unlock/ungroup does it all in one whack (well, actually two). And the full group/lock also settles the objects (that's the only way I can describe what I've observed). Full group/lock decreases jitters in the layout in Browse. And tab order isn't changed by changing the stacking order.

I have one more reason for group/lock... :blush:

Owner sometimes goes into layout (yeah, makes me nervous but also gives me someone to blame if something doesn't work! HAHA). So if he tried to do something, he can't. It appears the whole layout is unaccessible. When he askes me, I whip out something about SecureFM lockdowns and sub-script parameters providing field protections to the file reference variables. That always works.



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