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Saturday
Jul232011

What Is The FileMaker Spaghetti Relationship Design Approach?

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer

WEB: www.dwaynewright.com
EMAIL: info@dwaynewright.com
TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

Please Note: If you are viewing this page in a news feeder, the images may get munged up a bit. For the best experience, please visit the journal directly by clicking (here).

One of the common names to the organization (or lack thereof) of a relationship graph is spaghetti or spider. This is in when a method other than anchor/buoy or squid is implemented. Here is a little background for our later discussions on anchor/buoy.

FileMaker 6 and earlier versions had a very straight forward relationship setup. In fact, there was little reason to graph FileMaker relationships inside of a FileMaker file because it was simply a “when this equals that” task. You could only see the information from the current table to another table (most likely stored within another file).

BTW... I’m not suggesting FileMaker 6 databases didn’t need to be organized in an ERD or external graphing system. It just didn’t make sense to have the graph inside of the FileMaker file.

Then FileMaker 7 came out and our ability to have multiple tables within the same file literally blew the mind of the FileMaker community. Then everyone had to deal with a learning process in regards to the setup of relationships between these tables. To make matters better and worse, relationships can cascade from one table through any number of other tables until reaching a final destination in another table. Once again, to make matters better/worse is the fact that the relationship can now flow in both directions.

In most cases, any developer that converted a major solution from FileMaker 6 to FileMaker 7, were shocked to see the relationship graph for those files. There is no automated organization tools to represent relationship data and the overall effect can be overwhelming.

In typical FileMaker fashion, developers and users alike jumped in with both feet. In many cases, the below representation of the relationship graph was not that uncommon. This structure (or lack thereof) of a relationship graph are known by a number of names including spaghetti, spider and countless other less that complimentary terms
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More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at info@dwaynewright.com.

© 2008 - Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com

The material on this document is offered AS IS. There is NO REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY, expressed or implied, nor does any other contributor to this document. WARRANTIES OF MERCHANT ABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED. Consequential and incidental damages are expressly excluded. FileMaker Pro is the registered trademark of FileMaker Inc.





Wednesday
Jul202011

A READER ASKS: Conditional Highlighting Of FileMaker Value List Options

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer

WEB: www.dwaynewright.com
EMAIL: info@dwaynewright.com
TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

Please Note: If you are viewing this page in a news feeder, the images may get munged up a bit. For the best experience, please visit the journal directly by clicking (here).

A READER ASKS
I have a drop down list that I would like to have conditionally formatted so the items that are dropped down are highlighted based on a condition. Is this possible? For example if an item in the list matches a field in the record I would like to have it highlighted so it is easier to find quickly.

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DWAYNE RESPONDS
We don’t have that level of control with FileMaker value lists up to version 10. There are some third party plug-in products that offer extended value list capabilities. I haven’t researched them lately but a google search should find them easily enough.
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More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at info@dwaynewright.com.

© 2010 - Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com

The material on this document is offered AS IS. There is NO REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY, expressed or implied, nor does any other contributor to this document. WARRANTIES OF MERCHANT ABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED. Consequential and incidental damages are expressly excluded. FileMaker Pro is the registered trademark of FileMaker Inc.

Tuesday
Jul192011

Adding A Fill Color To An Entire FileMaker Layout Part

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer

WEB: www.dwaynewright.com
EMAIL: info@dwaynewright.com
TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

Please Note: If you are viewing this page in a news feeder, the images may get munged up a bit. For the best experience, please visit the journal directly by clicking (here).

In some cases, a developer may want to have a layout part stand out from another layout part. A common use for this is in FileMaker reports, where you may want to have a subsummary layout part stand out.

Here you can see a sales report in which the year has a subtle background change of light gray.

To get this effect, you simply need to click the layout part you want to color and then choose a different background fill color.


There is a related movie on this topic, to download it CLICK HERE!

More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at info@dwaynewright.com.

© 2008 - Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com

The material on this document is offered AS IS. There is NO REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY, expressed or implied, nor does any other contributor to this document. WARRANTIES OF MERCHANT ABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED. Consequential and incidental damages are expressly excluded. FileMaker Pro is the registered trademark of FileMaker Inc.



Monday
Jul182011

GTRR Work Great In FileMaker Anchor / Buoy Relationships

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer

WEB: www.dwaynewright.com
EMAIL: info@dwaynewright.com
TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

Please Note: If you are viewing this page in a news feeder, the images may get munged up a bit. For the best experience, please visit the journal directly by clicking (here).

Buoy uses relationships organized into groups and each group doesn’t touch. At the farthest left, each group has only one anchor table occurence and any number of buoy occurences. Since each group has only one anchor, this means will we have the same number of groups as we do tables (aka Anchors).

Here you can see a snapshot from my Proposal entity within my InBizness SOHO package. You can see that the Proposal table is linked to a Proposal Line Items table. This is because a proposal can have many milestones and those milestones are stored as line items. However, you also see the Line Item table occurrence showing up on its own. Remember, all base tables will have their own group and no two groups touch.

You might be thinking that a scripted GTRR (go to related record) may not work correctly in the Anchor/Buoy system. The truth of the matter is ... GTRR actually works better in a GTRR implementation. The fact that all layouts are only tied to base tables (anchors) is the key to making the whole thing work. Just because you are using a buoy relationship as the Go To, you are still going to a layout that has the same anchor. This is a bit confusing at first but your faith is not misplaced here.

If you have all your layouts tied to your true relationship graph anchors, your GTRR actions in an Anchor/Buoy implementation will work like a charm!

Free form use of the relationship graph is not easy to associate to layout. The way that everything links to everything and that relationships flow in both possible directions can confuse many a FileMaker developer.

The Anchor / Buoy method is very layout design friendly. This is because only certain table occurrences can be linked to layouts. This constraint pays some serious dividends later on in your design process but more about that later.
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More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at info@dwaynewright.com.

© 2008 - Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com

The material on this document is offered AS IS. There is NO REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY, expressed or implied, nor does any other contributor to this document. WARRANTIES OF MERCHANT ABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED. Consequential and incidental damages are expressly excluded. FileMaker Pro is the registered trademark of FileMaker Inc



Sunday
Jul172011

FileMaker Developers Conference 2011 Plans

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer

WEB: www.dwaynewright.com
EMAIL: info@dwaynewright.com
TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

Please Note: If you are viewing this page in a news feeder, the images may get munged up a bit. For the best experience, please visit the journal directly by clicking (here).

As I write this, the 2011 FileMaker Developers Conference is just over 2 weeks away. If you are not familiar with the event, here is a link (http://www.filemaker.com/developers/devcon/index.html ). Luckily, my employer is picking up the expense, which is considerable. The bottom line amount (conference, travel and what not) usually runs in the neighborhood of $3,000.


I’ve attended about a third of all the FileMaker DevCons and I always try to have a session attendance game plan in mind. This includes picking out the sessions I plan on attending and then knowing the location of the “plan B” option. This is necessary because sometimes a session you think is going to be great, quickly shows that it may fall short of your expectations.


TUESDAY

6:30 p.m. Opening Keynote
8:00 p.m. Welcome Reception

Comment: It does make it difficult sometimes to make the opening session after traveling in from out of town. I'm pretty sure that I will be able to make it.

Generally the opening keynote is significant because you get a pretty good idea about the overall tempo of the conference and where to focus efforts while there.


WEDNESDAY

9:00 a.m. Under the Hood WAN Performance
10:45 a.m. Introduction to FileMaker Pro and SQL Integration
2:00 p.m. Trigger Happy (2.0)
3:45 p.m. The Year In Review

Comment:  We have a lot of ESS SQL integration aspirations (with one very good one under our belt) and the first two sessions would help in with back office interactions. Script triggers are always huge and John’s Year In Review session is often the most anticipated session each year.


THURSDAY

9:00 a.m. The Fundamentals of Exceptional Interface Design
10:45 a.m. Synchronizing Data Between FileMaker and SQL through ESS
2:00 p.m. Use FileMaker Server to Help Stop Worldwide Robot Domination
3:45 p.m. Guerrilla User Research

Comments: Who can ever say they are completely satisfied with their UI and none of the other sessions really grab me. Our 2011 / 2012 project goals make attendance at every SQL session mandatory, so 10:45 is a no brainer. The session "Use FileMaker Server to Help Stop Worldwide Robot Domination" sounds silly but it actually has a lot of promise. It focuses on having the database perform server side tasks after traditional business hours. However, the inability for server side scripts to run across multiple files is simply killing us. We have a keen interest in DocuBin but absolutely no interest in the other topics in 360Works 3:45 PM session. As much as I like and respect Ray Cologon, I have never seen the appeal to his approach to relationships and embrace a more anchor/buoy approach. Guerrilla User Research doesn’t really grab me either but perhaps it is the conference sleeper session (meaning the one underestimated but fantastic). There is one at every conference!


FRIDAY

9:00 a.m. Surviving as an In-House Developer
10:45 a.m. Panel of Design Enthusiasts
2:00 p.m. Panel Discussion: FileMaker Integration with Other Technologies
3:45 p.m. Scripting for Portability
5:30 p.m. Closing Session

Comments: Logic dictates that I should attend the 9:00 a.m, Surviving as an In-House Developer session. However, I feel that I have a pretty good handle on the topics listed and keep looking at the Best Practice for Error Capture and User Abort session. The 10:45 AM sessions really do not grab me, so I imagine I may be wandering between them. I was interested in the Panel session until I saw that it was categorized for beginners. Ugh! The 2:00 PM sessions are just the opposite, all of them sound like they have potential! At 3:45PM, Scripting for Portability is an easy choice, even with stiff competition from Creating Great Interface Design Patterns for FileMaker Pro!