Posts tagged “best practices”.

Advisory about upgrading to Mac OS X Lion

The next Mac operating system, OS X 10.7 “Lion”, is scheduled to be released this month. “When should I upgrade?” is the hot question for users of FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server.

The short answer: We strongly recommend waiting to upgrade to Lion. There are known issues and potential problem points, regardless of your current version of FileMaker. For our clients whose solutions we host, we will conduct solution-specific tests before giving the green light on upgrading. Please delay upgrading until we have completed our internal testing.

One major change with Lion is that the compatibility software “Rosetta” will no longer be part of the Mac operating system. This means Read more… »

Message to Snopes.com: “About Your Rating Symbols”

[Note: This is the text of a message I sent to the Snopes.com owners, seconding a valid user request per the blog post at waxy.org which itself was a critique on a Netflix chart. These are but two examples of reducing efficacy through poor display choices.]

David and Barbara, thank you so much for your efforts and diligence over the years with Snopes.com. The Internet is a better place as a result. I have directed hundreds of people to your site as a tool for fighting ignorance. I encourage folks to not believe everything they read, and to make at least the minimal effort of checking Snopes.com before they forward their erroneous (or even malevolent) message.

SnopesLegend_comparisonSo I was disappointed to learn that you willingly diminish your site’s user experience using red-yellow-green “traffic light” indicators after being informed of the method’s shortcomings (waxy.org). Nearly 7% of males have a form of color blindness that makes it hard to distinguish between your true-or-false indicators. Your FAQ states that you know this, but you stick with the method anyway. You defend your decision with uninformed, flawed assumptions.

The color indicator problem is familiar to professionals in the data visualization arena — and so we use easily-implemented alternatives to side-step the whole issue. The following suggestions will work for your color-blind viewers, as well as normal-sighted people that print out your pages on a non-color printer. Read more… »

Serving the .fp7 MIME type

The Problem:
Clicking an .fp7 file download link on a web page results in a page full of garbage characters.

Mime or MIME?How do you go about sharing your FileMaker Pro files on the web with others? I’m not referring to hosting files on FileMaker Server — I mean giving someone the entire file to use on their computer or mobile device. With the advent of FileMaker Go for the iPad and iPhone, it has become preferable to post files as a straight .fp7 file (without compressing them to a .zip archive container), so that FileMaker Go can recognize and acquire the file directly.

But what’s wrong with this picture, Sparky?
Read more… »

A Startup Subscript: Checking version/platform/device

Funny how a new platform (FileMaker Go for iPad, in this case) helps you tighten your code design. While putting together the Charting on the iPad demo file (updated), naturally I rewrote the subscript that checks versions at file start to include mobile devices. For each variation it can specify minimum version and whether to enforce, allow/advise, or deny any access. The script is more modular and easily extensible by app version, OS, OS version, or device form factor. It has four parts, essentially:

1. You decide your desired behavior rules:

# Whether to advise & allow, enforce version, or deny ANY access
# ( 0 or null=ignore, 1=advise but allow, 2=enforce version, 
#   3=deny ANY access, 4=unsupported platform but allow )

# Min version & enforcement level of FM Go for iPad
Set Variable [ $minVersion_FMGo_iPad; Value:"1.0" ]
Set Variable [ $enforceLevel_FMGo_iPad; Value:1 ]
# 
# Min version & enforcement level of FM Go (for iPhone)
Set Variable [ $minVersion_FMGo_iPhone; Value:"99" //will assure test fail ]
Set Variable [ $enforceLevel_FMGo_iPhone; Value:4 ]
etc., etc., etc.

2. Then you query the computing environment: Read more… »

Create Context-Aware Help Systems

Built-in or Bolt-on? Ideally, only the developer knows for sure. Bring your powered up laptop to this hands-on workshop and leave with a context-aware Help system integrated with one of your own FileMaker Pro solutions. The techniques presented are plug-in free and platform independent. Step-by-step you’ll develop a functioning Help system. As a bonus, you’ll also receive generic Help content for common user actions, such as finds and navigation.
Read more… »

The Art and Business of User Documentation

Producing good user documentation isn’t trivial — but it is one key deliverable that can dramatically enhance a developer’s professional image while improving the usefulness of the solution. Developers often consider solution documentation a drudgery — or worse, a time-consuming activity with little return on effort. This session convincingly explains why including documentation as a standard practice is an asset rather than a liability, and that it doesn’t need to be a huge resource drain if it is planned for and executed during the development process.
Read more… »