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Is FM 7 Developer worth it?


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A couple of years ago I purchased FM 5 Developer thinking it was going to make my life a whole lot easier. Well it didn't, should of done a little more research. I eventually did start using some of the features. So know that FM 7 Developer is out, has 7 changed much and is it worth getting?

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Well, there are a couple new things, which were not in earlier developers. For one thing, all the developer tools are integrated into the single application (they were in 6 also); but that's not really an "additional" feature, just more convenient.

Custom functions could be a compelling feature if you are into serious calculations. They have the ability to create "recursive" calculations (calculations which call themselves over and over, to do things like "create a range of numbers from 1 to 1000"). You can embed them into your files. The regular version of FileMaker can use those calculations (or they wouldn't be much use, would they?), but cannot create or edit them.

That being said, I can't think of very many that would necessarily be "compelling." There are a lot out there already, on the web, which you can just copy/paste and use. Some of them are reproducible in regular FileMaker, using the auto-enter by calculation, with replacing. And the functionality of ranges is available to any relationship where you can use > or < as operators. But if there is one you really need, any that are recursive, or if you want the security of hiding your calculations, then Developer is for you.

Renaming files is also less of an issue; if you put all your tables in one file it's no longer a problem at all.

I like the File Maintenance menu commands, which can compact and optimize a file in one step. It's not compelling, but useful if you work with files which have large imports and deletions going on. It sure would be nice for Developer to be able to embed those as a script step; but it's not in the script steps, so you can't.

OK, I got it. Compelling, at least to me. Debug Scripts. Allows you to step through a script, one step at a time, or to user-set break points, and see exactly what is going on; pause, with access to layouts and fields, or stop at any time . Easy to use, flexible. A real timesaver for those pesky Loops, etc.. I didn't realize until now that it wasn't in regular FileMaker 7; had to launch it to see (or not see). I think this feature will help anyone, at any level. Of course, you can always use the old stand-by's of Pause, Beep, Display Dialog, etc.. But that is much more annoying (when you are generally not in the best of moods anyway :-|

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