Search Project Mgmt
Search FileMaker Blogs

Thank you for visiting the FileMaker Thoughts blog. I recently moved this content over from my blogger account. Hope you like it! When you get a chance, check out the centralized search feature for all the FileMaker blogs found along the right side panel. It is quite handy!


Saturday
Jul232011

What Is FileMaker Anchor / Buoy Relational Design?

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).

You might not know it or you might know it all too well, FileMaker layouts are linked to a defined table occurrence in the relationship graph. Please note that I said a table occurrence and not a table, although by default the occurrence is linked to a source table.

When you create a new table in FileMaker, a new occurrence of the table is automatically added to the Relational Graph. By default, you might then start linking it up to other table occurrences and move forward in your project. I don’t know the official name for linking like this but I am beginning to call this free form relational design. Other names might include the Spider method or the Spaghetti method, indicating all the cross flowing lines in the relationship graph begin to look like spider webs or a plate of spaghetti.

Spaghetti Relationship Design Approach

I’m not that certain about where Anchor / Buoy started but I first discovered it via a link on FileMaker TechTalk. The discussion included a link to a Kevin Frank Powerpoint presentation ( http://www.kevinfrank.com/anchor-buoy.html ). Since then, I see they attribute to a Soliant Inc. creation.

Anchor / Buoy uses relationships organized into groups and each group doesn’t touch and each group has only one anchor and any number of buoys. 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. This will make more sense as we explore the benefits of Anchor / Buoy in a real world implementation.

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
=
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.

-------
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.
=
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.
=
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