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Chock full o' filemaking goodness... tips & tricks, example files, presentations & articles we've written. These are selections curated from the SavvyData Blog. They are absolutely FREE (free as in beer).

 

PivotBrowser UI demo from DevCon

One of our demo files was featured at the 2012 FileMaker Developer Conference (DevCon), at Bob Shockey’s session “The Design Universe.” During the session folks requested a copy of that file, happily provided here.
To recap, this file shows a UI proof-of-concept using the new button states in FMP12. The general idea was to explore how to streamline complex Finds (that usually are multi-step processes) in a way that was iOS-friendly. I also wanted to see if it made sense to use the same UI on the desktop, to provide a more seamless cross-device experience. To demonstrate one such solution we used a single global field, OnObjectEnter script triggers, and a couple short scripts. [9/13/2012: added a straight button-driven method. ~Lee]

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

Web 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.

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Autoscaling Behaviors of the FileMaker Pro Chart Object

Ever have a FileMaker Pro chart “mysteriously” change its scale setting on you? Ever wonder how the FileMaker Pro chart object decides to set the y-axis scale?

The FileMaker Pro documentation doesn’t provide that level of detail, so following are the behavior “rules” I’ve deduced through experimentation:

Scaling Behavior “Rules”…

(The following assume the y-scale min-max has not been set to static values.)

  • If the spread of values is less than 20%, the y-axis min-max will automatically adjust to show just the top portion of the plot.
  • If the high value is more than 90% of the y-axis max, the chart draws to the next larger grid line (which has its own set of display logic, by the way).
  • If the low value is less than ~14% of the visible scale, the chart draws to the next smaller grid line.

To experiment with settings on variously-sized charts: Read full blog post...

 

Fun with FileMaker Charts, v1.5

Knowing how to represent data visually often draws upon quite varied skills. A data visualist ideally possesses some of the traits of information architect, graphic designer, mathematician, statistician, web designer, teacher, user interface designer, cognitive psychologist, and storyteller. One could argue that these skills are essential to thriving in our future information-rich society. Until the future arrives, however, we must manage with whatever we have. And one thing we now have is FileMaker Pro 11 Charts! Charting is the feature that will drive a new stage of success.

Charting on the iPad

click to view full-sizeFileMaker 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 FileMaker Go for iPad and Phone (separate apps) built-in charting is not supported and Apple’s iOS doesn’t run Adobe Flash. How to do charting on the iPad or iPhone with FileMaker Go?

Web 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.

Luckily, the potential of HTML5 for charting is huge.

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Chart Palettes Cheatsheet for FMP11

When FileMaker Inc. announced FileMaker Pro 11, most reviewers agreed the most exciting new capability was charting. If you already chart in FusionCharts or xmChart or 360Works Charts or AnyChart or xmChart or Maani or Google API or SimpleChart or [your unnamed favorite here], you will still find the built-in chart tool easier to use than any of those. It is amazingly convenient. And did I mention easy? If you’re not a charting fan yet, then I’m sure you soon will be.

Unlike the advanced third-party charting options, you cannot assign a specific color to a particular data point. FileMaker Pro 11 Chart automatically assign colors to the Y-axis data series/elements from a choice of 20 palettes. However there are ways to get around the default color choices, so it is handy to know the spectrum of colors available. That is not easily discovered unless you plot every possibility. So we did. Or at least the first 50 colors of each palette.

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Video Tips for Prospective FileMaker DevCon Speakers

So you’re submitting a proposal to present at the FileMaker Developer Conference (aka DevCon)… awesome! Thanks for offering to share your knowledge with the developer community. The more developers share, the better DevCon for us all. As you may be aware, the deadline for submitting proposals for next year’s DevCon is almost upon us.

One requirement is a 3- to 5-minute video of yourself for each of your proposed topics. The purpose of the video is to give the FileMaker, Inc. speaker selection team an idea of your presentation style, as well as to provide a platform for you to explain the key objectives of your proposed session and how you intend to present it. Although your proposal will not be judged on the video’s technical merits, you naturally will want to present yourself in the best possible manner.

We provide some suggestions on how to record and produce a quality video for this purpose.

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A Likely Fix for SMTP Send Mail Error 1506 Woes

Send Mail via SMTP is a feature added in v10 of FileMaker Pro, that enables sending email directly without requiring a user’s email client application. The Send via SMTP option is also available to the Send Mail script step for FileMaker Pro, and is enabled for FileMaker Server. This adds the ability to automate sending via server-side scripts, whereas prior versions required a FileMaker Pro client to send email.

As usual, with power comes responsibility. In this case, it means knowing your SMTP configuration details and correctly formatting email elements. Failure here is easy, often resulting in the general (and least informative) error, 1506: “Email(s) could not be sent successfully”. (See below for a common but unexpected condition that triggers this error.)

We’ve created a file that should help streamline the process of finding SMTP settings. When run, it will attempt to send email using every permutation of the settings, and tell you which combinations were successful.

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Autoresize Layout Objects

One of the significant new capabilities in FileMaker Pro 9 is the "auto-resize" feature. We are thrilled with the user interface improvements this functionality makes possible. An added benefit is how auto-resize can reduce development effort, at the very same time.

In prior versions of FileMaker, making a particular layout look good on both small and large monitors meant creating multiple layouts—one for each target screen resolution. Now, however, layout objects can be made to automatically move and/or change size as a user changes the window size. So a single layout can adapt itself on the fly, to perfectly serve various monitor and window configurations.

In addition to providing a richer user experience and streamlining development, auto-resize is easily applied to existing .fp7 solutions, potentially producing huge usability gains for perhaps a half-hour or less of actual work per layout.

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Movie: Auto-resize in action

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Redesigning Layouts to Embrace the New FMP10 Interface

This workshop provides hands-on opportunity to apply suggested tactics for embracing the new user interface. Whether you think it boon or bane, incorporating the modernized Status Toolbar (formerly Status Area) requires new thinking about layout design and user interaction options. Its re-location and newly available buttons and features change the rules, especially when upgrading existing solutions or in cross-version deployments.

  • Tactics for adapting existing solutions to the new screen form factor
  • How to apply Autoresize to layout objects for maximum advantage with minimum fuss
  • Ways to design for cross-version deployment
  • Leverage the Find and Saved Finds functions/features

Downloads available: presentation slides & handouts, demo file.

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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.

  • Learn how to create and connect a basic Help system with a minimum of muss and fuss
  • Discover how to provide the right help at the right time … making the Help system context-aware
  • See how to leverage the Help system using custom menus
  • Find out how to tap the power of the Web Viewer for a richer user experience

Downloads available: presentation slides, exercise files, and generic helps texts.

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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.

Downloads available: presentation slides, picklist of 40+ document types, document examples.

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