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Thursday
May122011

A READER ASKS: FileMaker Based Wiki Site

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 at http://dwaynewright.squarespace.com/filemaker-thoughts/.

A READER ASKS
I'm a professor trying to set up a wiki-website. The goal is to make it EASY for the public (physicians, patients, researchers) to see treatments and insert their wiki-edits (treatments or feedback) into either one of four categories: Standard, Complementary, Emerging, and Quack.

A webmaster suggested that I use Filemaker or Wordpress to create data files to make the site more user friendly. Which would be better?

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DWAYNE RESPONDS
Unfortunately, I’m not much of an expert in FileMaker / Web integration. I really enjoy working with FileMaker Instant Web Publishing and have a nice collection of successes in that area. I’ve tried to get into FileMaker Custom Web Publishing and it isn’t that hard. Ultimately, I’ve found that avenue of development unattractive. Some of the things I’ve seen colleagues produce is amazing but I just can’t seem to get into it.

If it were me, I’d explore looking at integrating two different methods to achieve what you describe. The first would be a great web site hosted by squarespace.com and the second would be a FileMaker IWP database hosted by a third party provider.

SQUARESPACE (squarespace.com)
You can get a free two week trial and there are podcast coupon codes that you can get to lower the price. My site is hosted by squarespace and I’m quite happy with it. I used a code from the podcast “This Week In Tech” and I pay under $15.00 a month.

FILEMAKER IWP HOSTING SERVICE
The quickest and easiest way to put a live FileMaker Pro database on the web. Because of this, there are come design limitations but I don’t think you would run into those in your situation. There are a number of hosting companies our there but I’ve only used “the drooling dog” because Angelo has always taken great care of me.

SOME IWP IMPLEMENTATION TIPS
Users can change their login account and password settings in IWP, if the developer allows them to access a script using the Re-Login script step. This may not work however in some hosted database situations and you cannot setup the ability to automatically have a user change their password.

When IWP users add a new record or edit data in an existing record, they must click a submit button in order for their changes to be saved. This submit button will normally reside in the status area but a developer can add their own button in the FileMaker layout to Commit (Submit) the record.

IWP has a fairly significant number of limitations. Here are just a few of them. IWP users cannot add data into container fields. IWP users cannot spell check data. IWP users cannot use keyboard shortcuts. Some layout objects such as rounded rectangles do not look good in IWP. Always test your IWP views as you design them. You can both edit a database in FileMaker and view it in IWP from the same machine. Leave lots of extra space for fields using radio buttons or checkbox value lists. The same is true for container fields that might be used to play QuickTime movies.  Conditional formatting does not work with IWP (as of FileMaker 9).

List view in IWP is limited to showing only 25 records at a time. Table view is limited to showing only 50 records at a time. For this reason, many IWP developers try substituting portals for list view when they can.

Only the Tab key is supported for keyboarding from one field to the next in IWP.

Try to limit field validation in the IWP settings. Every validation error will be returned when the user tries to submit the record. The number of validation error messages can be very annoying.

All Custom Menu settings are ignored by the IWP user.

FileMaker Instant Web Publishing supports more than 70 script steps! When the Indicate Web Compatibility checkbox is checked, all incompatible script steps are dimmed! If a script contains IWP unsupported scripts steps and it is executed under IWP, you can use the Allow User Abort script step to manage the effects. If the Allow User Abort step is in the ON position, the script will stop when it encounters the unsupported step. In the other position, which is the OFF position and the default for FileMaker, then IWP will pass over the unsupported script steps and execute the rest of the script. If there is no Allow User Abort script step in the script, IWP will halt the script at the first instance of an unsupported script step.

My old friend, the Commit Record Script Step, can become even more important in IWP scripts. You may have to sprinkle this step a little more frequently for IWP because of the whole "IWP has got to submit it's data" thing we chatted about earlier.

The Get(ApplicationVersion) function will return FileMaker Web Publishing for the current IWP users.

Since there are no alert messages in IWP, your scripts executed within the IWP act at is the Set Error Capture script step is always ON.

The Open URL script step, in the IWP setting, will perform in a new browser window. The Exit Application script step is the IWP equivalent to logging out and is recommended for ending all IWP sessions.

Test, Test, Test, Test and then Test some more for your IWP solutions.

© 2011 - 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.

Thursday
May052011

A READER ASKS: FileMaker Search Relevance

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer
WEB: www.dwaynewright.com
EMAIL: info@dwaynewright.com
TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

A READER ASKS
I am dealing with a client request to apply a search result relevance on records after being found and was doing some digging around on the net and found your post at http://tinyurl.com/3lyeth5.

I am wondering if you have applied your thinking to a Find process and been able to show relevance ranking on the records. LOL trying to save some gray matter on this end if possible.

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DWAYNE RESPONDS
You know, I haven’t done anything creative with FileMaker search for awhile now. The last thing I did was explore a technique out there for kidnapping the FileMaker 11 Quick Search feature and replacing it with a customized implementation.

Like you, I have a client (my day job actually) that is going to want these features before 2011 comes to a close. As I chuckle to myself thinking, “even though they don’t know that yet”.


FMSearchResults (http://www.seedcode.com/cp-app/ste_cat/fmsearchresults) is a likely place to start for any developer wanting to supercharge the search capabilities within their FileMaker solution(s). I noticed that the recently released DocuBin by 360Works has employed it and this is one of the few times I’ve seen a FileMaker commerical solution wrapped within another FileMaker commerical solution (that wasn’t plug-in related).

So if you are up for it, I’d check out FMSearchResults and show it to your customer and see how they react!

© 2011 - 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
May012011

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer
WEB: www.dwaynewright.com
EMAIL: info@dwaynewright.com
TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

A READER ASKS:
What was the movie recording software you use?

DWAYNE RESPONDS:
The product I use is called ScreenFlow from Telestream. Making tutorial movies takes a little while to get used to and be prepared to throw away some of the movies you make. Not because of the program but just that it takes a little time getting used to the process of making movies you are comfortable showing to others. The one big tip is to avoid making long movies in one recording session. In my experience, it is better to make a short movie and then use the feature to record new presentations on top of a actively saved one.

This way if you mess up (and you will, trust me) in a section, you can delete it and just record that session again. It is also helpful to take a piece of paper and list out the small sections you want to cover in the movie.

Here is a link to Screenflow and you can download a demo to try it out.

http://www.telestream.net/screen-flow/overview.htm

UPDATE May 2, 2011, Found a limited time bundle that includes ScreenFlow. Saves you 50 bucks and you get a bunch of other applications in the bundle! http://maclegion.com/

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

© 2011 - 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.

Friday
Apr222011

Country Codes Custom Function

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). 

Recently I have been working with a lot of databases that have been without the comforting touch of a FileMaker developer in a very long time. Although I’ve seen this again and again, I’m still amazed about how FileMaker databases and FileMaker servers can run for many years without any maintenance. Of course, that isn’t the way it should be but it is comforting to know they are so solid!

Anyway, I was combining some database files together that center around the same business unit. These tables referenced a country code file that was badly damaged and the server wouldn’t open it. I have no idea how long this has been the case, the users were simply closing the “File Not Found” dialog box every time it would arise. 

According to wikipedia ... Country codes are short alphabetic or numeric geographical codes (geocodes) developed to represent countries and dependent areas, for use in data processing and communications.


I remember that there are country code databases and export files out on the interwebs and did a quick google search. When looking for such things, I tend to put “FileMaker” as a key word on my first search pass because you never really know!

In the middle of my search results was a custom function from the library found on briandunning.com and I thought this was an excellent alternative to maintaining a table within each file that leverages country code options.

Here is a link if you are interested (click here)

Saturday
Apr092011

Options For FileMaker Buttons Attached To Scripts

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 you might guess, a majority of FileMaker scripts are activated by the click of a button on a layout. What many FileMaker users don’t know is that the button itself can affect the way the script performs. There are 4 options for a button that performs a script Halt, Exit, Resume and Pause. These options come into play when you are already in a script when the button is selected ( running or paused ).

You see, it’s possible you are within a paused script when you click the button! Yes, it’s possible to have a script activated but have it paused because you want some sort of interaction from the user. This can be things such as wanting the user to add data that the script is going to use in later steps, select a combination of buttons to perform first or any combination of the two.

Although I tend to look for the most straight forward and elegant solution in my scripting, there are times that I have a “rather hairy” combination of scripts in place for complex operations.


Here you can see the define button dialog box when a Perform script action is indicated and you can see the pop down list.


Again, here you can see the define button dialog box and I have selected the pop down list for how the script will perform when activated by the button.

Halt will stop the running script and any other scripts that called upon it ... before ... it executes the script attached to the button.

Exit will stop the currently running script but not any other scripts that called upon it ... before ... it executes the script attached to the button. After the script attached to the button is completely done, then the script that called upon the script that was running before the button was pushed will continue performing. ( confusing I know but I’ll include an example file to illustrate this !)

Resume will pause the current running script, run the script attached to the button and then automatically pick up the original script where it left off.

Pause will pause the currently running script and run the button script. When the script assigned to the button is finished, you will need to continue the original script ( via the continue button or the enter key ) or cancel the original script ( via the cancel button).

SO, HOW ABOUT A SAMPLE?
This is kind of an odd example of a rather odd FileMaker sub-feature. It involves the options of Halt, Exit, Resume and Pause options a button can perform during a current running script. That is to say that a script is running or paused when the button is selected. If that button is attached to the script ( what happens )? The 4 options help define that.

In the example, we have divided the 2 options into two main button docks. This is because the first set of buttons ( Resume and Pause ) are focused on the currently running script and the new button script.

The second two options ( Halt and Exit ) really come into play during a more complex cascading subscript situation. That would be when a script calls upon a subscript that is interrupted by a click of a button.

To test the Resume button - click the button Count To Ten - then around number 5 - click the Resume button. You will see that the colors of red, blue, green, orange appear and then the count up to ten proceeds.

To test the Pause button - click the button Count To Ten - then around number 5 - click the Pause button. You will see that the colors of red, blue, green, orange appear and then the script is paused, clicking the continue button ( or the enter key ) will resume count up to ten.

To test the Halt button - click the button Count To Ten With Color Sub - then around number 4 you will see the countdown switch to colors - when this happens click the Halt button. You will see that the seasons of the year show up ( Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter ) and then all scripts stops completely.

To test the Exit button - click the button Count To Ten With Color Sub - then around number 4 you will see the countdown switch to colors - when this happens click the Exit button. You will see that the seasons of the year show up ( Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter ) and then you will see the countdown continue towards 10. You will note the colors subscript did not continue performing.

An example file can be downloaded by clicking (here)


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

© 2007 - 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.