FileMaker goes to 11!

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.
3. Cocoa
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.
5. Inspector
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

Ian Jempson

Ian has an impressive resumé amongst FileMaker developers and is an internationally recognised authority on all things FileMaker and is frequently invited to speak at industry events. In his 15 years of experience he has developed award-winning custom database systems as well as software products that are in daily use by tens of thousands across industries as diverse as investment banking, recruitment, events management, advertising and education In his role as Development Manager, Ian handles our increasing project management requirements. Certified in FileMaker versions 8 through 12, Ian is also well versed in other database platforms which drives him to constantly push the boundaries of what is possible with FileMaker Pro.

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3 thoughts on “FileMaker goes to 11!”

  1. What do you know about the *Cocoa* in FileMaker 11? I noticed a speed and elegance in FileMaker 11. I’m assuming from your #3 above that it is due to Cocoa. Any sources on this I can read up on so I can speak more knowledgeably on my FileMaker Fever blog about it? Thanks!

  2. Hi Janet

    There’s not really any documentation on this change in FileMaker. However, version 11 does feel more “mac-like” if you know what i mean. Difficult to put a finger on it, but I definitely prefer it.

  3. I’d have put the chart functions in there above the Quick Find personally but there ya go! Maybe everyone thinks xmcharts which has been available for a while now is better so theres no need to use filemakers own version!

    And as for Layout folders pfff.. should have been there since version 7

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