Charting in FileMaker Go for iPad — what’s new in v2

Charting with FileMaker Go on the iPadWeb technologies have added functionality to FileMaker solutions since the Web Viewer layout object was introduced in version 8.5. The web viewer has proven especially useful for displaying Flash-generated charts from FusionCharts, Maani, AnyChart, and others.

FileMaker Pro v11 introduced a built-in chart layout object with 5 basic chart types. Charts suddenly became much easier to implement in FileMaker Pro!

However, with FileMaker Go for iPad and Phone (separate apps) built-in charting is not supported and Apple’s iOS doesn’t run Adobe Flash. The Google Charts API is popular, but for that you must be online.

Luckily, the potential of HTML5 for charting is huge, and the spec that affects charting functions (via the canvas tag) is fairly stable. It is uncertain how soon HTML5 will be fully ratified, though, so you won’t want to wait. Jump in now, using CSS3 and JavaScript, as demonstrated here.

Choice of download type: zipped, as usual and UNzipped, for easy loading directly to your iPad.

So does a person need to know these web technologies to do iPad charting?
Some responses from my first iPad charting demo file wondered whether one must know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to use this charting method. It certainly helps — but I don’t think not being a wizard in web tech is a serious liability, either. Here’s why:

1) JavaScript: There’s no explicit need to edit any JavaScript. At least not in a major way for display purposes. If you want interactive and multi-touch gesture recognition (to do pan & zoom, and drill-downs, etc.) well, then I guess the answer is probably yes.

2) HTML: Not really — only to the extent you want to change the layout of the data table. Folks will probably show data in FM, anyway — I just include it for demonstration. (Notice the new option to hide the HTML data table.)

3) CSS: It is true that to change a chart’s look, the demo file requires that one muck about with the actual CSS code. If you don’t know CSS, go ahead and take a look at the code — after sitting with it a few minutes you can probably see the pattern of how it works (or at least which items may affect label and caption text size and color, line widths, and element positions, for example). The old trial & error method works fairly well here, too. And it wouldn’t be too hard (laborious, yes — but not hard) to build a FileMaker interface to change selected CSS settings on the fly. Hmm…

Those download links, again: zipped, as usual and UNzipped, for easy loading directly to your iPad.

Enjoy! (and please send me your feedback)


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