So we’ve now got a new version of FileMaker . It’s got improvements across the board which make it a better, more productive development environment. There are no dramatic surprises as FileMaker has kept up their mantra of slow and steady improvement in the product. Many of the changes appear to be small, but smooth away the rough edges. The .fp7 file format has been maintained, so no conversion process is required to use an existing post-FileMaker 7 solution.
My top five features:
1. Quick Find
Quick Find appears in the Status Toolbar and allows the user to perform a find across all fields on the current layout. The control looks and feels like the Find dialogues that feature in so many other applications.
It’s primarily intended to be an end-user feature, however developers are provided with a great deal of control over the behaviour of the feature. A solution developer is able to disable Quick Find at a layout level or even on a field by field basis depending on their requirements. We’re provided with a new script step, Perform Quick Find, which means we’re able to use it when and where we want in a solution. Taken together these provide a very useful enhancement to the FileMaker environment.
One nice point is that the Perform Quick Find script step will work on a layout that has Quick Find disabled. So a developer can take full advantage of the feature while keeping the solution locked down.
2. Import and Copy/Paste of custom functions
At long last FileMaker has brought us the ability to import custom functions between files and to copy and paste them as well. Custom functions are one of the primary ways we’re able to take advantage of code re-use in FileMaker. In the past we had to manually copy functions between files, which was always a tedious process prone to error.
This is a very welcome feature that will save considerable time and effort.
One that’s Macintosh only and isn’t really a feature as such, but in my view it’s a significant improvement. This one hasn’t made it into FileMaker’s list of features, but it’s there and goes a long way to making FileMaker feel like a modern OS X Application. Dialogue boxes and window behaviours are consistent with other applications.
4. Layout Folders
Layout Folders allow us to organise layouts properly rather than just viewing them in one long list. Along with this comes the ability to search layouts by name. For complex systems this is going to make it much easier to organise and maintain layouts. Anyone who has worked on a solution with several hundred layouts will appreciate this feature.
The Inspector allows us to view and edit layout object attributes using floating palettes. In the past these attributes were accessed through a number of modal dialogues, each of which was accessed through cryptic command keys. Developers who had been working with FileMaker since the early days have them all memorised, but for anyone new coming to FileMaker the rhyme and reason behind the key combinations was perplexing at best.
The inspector allows most of the attributes to be viewed and edited in one place. There are three tabs on the inspector. They deal with object position, appearance and data respectively. You are able to have multiple inspector windows open simultaneously, though you’ll definitely want a large monitor for this.
We’ll be posting more on FileMaker 11. Overall, it’s an upgrade that will simplify our lives as developers and database users. It continues the path of continuous improvement started years ago with the introduction of FileMaker 7. We’re all looking forward to getting to put it through it’s paces now that it’s been released.
There is more information at FileMaker’s web site FileMaker.co.uk