With FileMaker Pro 12 we got Themes with new design elements. And I am glad to see design changes with checkboxes in some themes. But still, it is not perfect yet. Of course, the new css-based layout system hint some future changes, perhaps even allowing user-created Themes. Still I like to propose additional changes for layout checkbox objects.
User-defined Checkbox Images
FileMaker knows only predefined checkbox designs. But with the new design possibilities, the current checkbox design might not be enough. Perhaps a developer creates an Aqua-style inspired design. That includes the design for checkboxes.
There are workarounds available, using calculation fields and containers. But how much easier would it be with this new feature:
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A FileMaker checkbox knows only two states: on and off. For a simple Boolean field you assign a value list, containing only a single value (1). In a checked state the field contains the value 1, in an unchecked state it is empty.
So far so good. But unfortunately sometimes a binary state checkbox is not good enough. There are cases where I like to have a tri-state checkbox in FileMaker. A tri-state checkbox knows three states: unchecked, checked, and indeterminate. Value representations could be 0, 1, and an empty value.
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FileMaker 12 is finally here. We waited 25 months to get the newest version of the FileMaker database. All items of the product line got a new version:
- FileMaker Pro
- FileMaker Pro Advanced
- FileMaker Server
- FileMaker Server Advanced
- FileMaker Go for iPhone & iPad
What is new? What has chanced? What is good? What is missing?
Many developers already guessed it. FileMaker got a new file format. You have to convert files created in FileMaker Pro 11 and earlier before you can use them with FileMaker Pro 12. A FileMaker Pro 11 client or server cannot access FileMaker Pro 12 files. There are so many changes under the hood that a new file format was unavoidable.
Converting files to the new format is easy. When you try to open a file in the old format fp7, the program ask you if you like to convert the file. After conversion you should review the conversion log file and then test the converted database. FileMaker put a lot of effort into this conversion process. It is a much less troubled process than the switch from fp6 to fp7.
New Layout Design and Controls
Prominent changes are layout themes. Developers might know themes from FileMaker’s little sister Bento. A theme is assigned to a layout and the layout objects. If you change the theme all layout objects will change accordingly. But there is more about objects attributes.
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More than once I got a phone call from my clients with a cry for help: “Yesterday I entered a lot of data, but today everything is gone! I do not know what happened.”
Of course I tried to recreate the situation in my database but fail. All the data I entered was there. Next I visited the client and he showed me how he entered the data. Only this time everything was saved in the table, no data loss at all. Without any clue what happened I had to drive home. A couple days later I received a similar phone call and I tried again my best to find the source of the problem.
It was just by chance that I found out what happened. From a distance I watched the user doing his daily work. He was updating some address records on the database. At one point he entered Find mode to search for a customer. He looked into his handwritten notes for the right spelling of the customer name and realized that this must be a new customer. He entered the customer name, address and contact data. Then he added a new record and typed in another new customer.
At that time I realized, the user was not aware that he entered the data in Find mode. He totally forgot that he had switch to that mode and never returned to Browse mode. So all the data he entered were used for a search request and got lost when he closed the database. And that was exactly what had happened before. He had entered the now missing data at the end of the day. In the rush to leave the office he forgot about a switch into Find mode, entered all the data and closed the database without realizing that the data was never saved to a table.
FileMaker offers by default only few indicators about the current mode. For the Find mode these indicators are:
- Find mode specific toolbar
- Find symbol (gray magnifier symbol) in search fields
- Find mode indicator in status bar at the bottom of the layout
But these indicators might be not visible. For example, the Status Toolbar might be turned off for the current window and the gray magnifier symbol is only visible when the Layout Setup option “Show field frames when record is active” is checked on. Even then is the magnifier symbol only visible if a field is activated. But it is not displayed in the active field, only in all other fields enabled for find mode. And finally, the mode indicator in the status bar is so small and usually far away from the focus of the user, that almost no user has ever recognized it.
In bad circumstances it might (and will) happen that the user thinks he is in browse mode when actual the find mode is activated. Any data entered now is only placed into a search request and is not saved into the table. Read more …
Last week I wrote a new version of my custom function FrontTabs. The function retrieves the object names of all open tabs. Another developer discovered an error in the previous version. With three or more nested tab controls the function could return a wrong result. It was time to rewrite the function. The new version takes care of that problem.
The function FrontTabs returns a list with all currently open tabs, so called front tabs. Of course, all tabs must have an object name. The returned object names are listed in the order of the nested tab controls, starting with the utmost tab control. This makes it easy to recreate a previous saved front tabs status. Read more …