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Marrying Comments and Tooltips
Here's a cute trick that you'll either love or hate. With FileMaker 10 and the GetFieldName function, you can display Tooltips with the contents of a field comment. Not only does this allow you to store your Tooltips with the field definition, it's completely dynamic such that you can select all the fields on your current layout and apply the Tooltip formula one time. Here's the dynamic formula: FieldComment(Get(FileName); GetFieldName(Self))



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I started working with FileMaker 25 years ago and a lot has changed. Here are the folks I think need to be recognized for their effort in shaping the early FileMaker (in no particular order):



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Twenty-Twenty in Review
Level: Intermediate
Version: FileMaker 19
Category: General
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
A lot has happened in 2020 but I'm not hear to preach about the pandemic, the presidential race or George Floyd. A ton has transpired in the FileMaker market too! Probably the biggest news is JavaScript and FileMaker living in perfect harmony. But, I'll also pontificate about quarterly releases, Claris Engage, public speaking and even publishing in the FileMaker market. All of these subjects have come to exist or have changed drastically in the 2020 FileMaker market. So... sit back and enjoy the ride through memory lane of twenty-twenty.

Twenty-Twenty in Review

JavaScript
JavaScript is the most important technology to be integrated with FileMaker in years. But, what about ODBC, JDBC, XML, PHP, REST, JSON and all the other technologies? The reason JavaScript is so important is because it is so widely used. That means tons of libraries out there you can grab for free to enhance your FileMaker interfaces. But, that's not the only reason. FileMaker introduced a two-way street with JavaScript with a FileMaker script step and a JavaScript function:

Perform JavaScript in Web Viewer

FileMaker.PerformScript()


These two features allow you to have FileMaker to perform a JavaScript from within FileMaker and then have JavaScript perform a script in FileMaker when it's done. Or, vice versa. This opens a whole new world of features and interface constructs that was never available before. I can't wait to see the techniques developers are going to introduce over the next year. It should be tantalizing! I've written a lot about the promise of JavaScript integration so you can read about it here:

Hey Nineteen

Quarterly Releases
So far, I like it! I get the same amount of FileMaker but I don't have to wait a year to get it. Compare that to the three year gap in new FileMaker versions between FileMaker Pro 2.0 and 3.0. Sure, it was worth the wait but I'd rather get new technology now. And, frankly, the industry has completely changed, warranting more frequent releases to accommodate the fast moving world.

Not only do we get new FileMaker features faster but we get beta features to try out. This could never be done with yearly releases. Imagine Claris releasing a beta feature, getting customer feedback and possibly releasing the feature months later rather than years later. They've already tried it a couple of times already. The main feature was a new beginner experience for Macintosh users only.

Nineteen Point One

Scroll down the article for the content on the "Quick Start Experience" if you are interested in the exact feature.

However, the point is, Claris is releasing a feature that isn't ready for prime time and they are completely open about it. Crazy, right? Crazy smart, I think. In fact, they did the same thing with the ability to create your own Add-Ons. They introduced the feature silently in FileMaker 19.0. There's no mention of it but developers are clearly creating their own Add-Ons. That's because this feature is really a beta release and way too difficult for beginners. They officially released them in FileMaker 19.1 but there's no menu item or button to activate the feature. It's a fairly complicated procedure that will undoubtedly be streamlined in the near future. The best information can be found at DBServices:

Creating FileMaker Add-Ons

Again, this is really a pre-release feature. Sure, you can create your own Add-On for FileMaker but is it easy? The answer is "No" which is why you don't see the feature being advertised or promoted in any way. On the other hand, we all get to try it out sooner rather than later and provide feedback that can be incorporated in one of the quarterly releases. I like the direction all this is going!

The Book is Dead
I've been talking, behind the scenes mostly, about how publishing books in the FileMaker market is a thing of the past. I think I even mentioned it in a couple PodCasts. When Claris went to yearly releases in 2015, the book market for FileMaker continued to limp along. Sure, there were new books published but most people were unwilling to spend time on an advanced book since it would be updated soon after it was finished. There were still some FileMaker beginner books out there but nothing geared towards a developer or a budding developer. Certainly not the number of titles everyone was used to seeing when there were multiple years between releases.

Then came quarterly releases. How is anyone supposed to write a book in three months, LOL. The book is dead! No more flipping through pages on the toilet or while lying in bed. Sure, you could get an electronic book and read it on your mobile device but electronic distribution is almost as bad off simply due to the time restrictions. From personal experience, it took six months to write a developer level book Scriptology - FileMaker Pro Demystified.

The only real solution is publishing in small chunks. That means blogs and videos are the only way to get technical information out there in a fast moving world. In fact, I'm even a victim of the brave new world. I started writing a book to follow up Scriptology but stopped after finishing about twenty-five percent because I came to the realization that I would never finish it before I had to revise it. I took all the content and poured it into the first year of this blog.

Public Speaking
Public speaking takes a lot of preparation time if you want to make an impact. For DevCon, it takes weeks of time researching, creating slides and example files, rehearsing and traveling. I spoke at DevCon at least a dozen times but hung up my hat for many reasons but mostly because it took a month out my business life. I determined I could do much more with that month producing videos, writing articles, working with clients and creating content for my blog and download site.

I think Eric Matthews sent me dozens of emails asking me to speak at DIGFM (Developer Innovation Group in FileMaker) in Santa Clara. I kept telling him I don't do that stuff anymore but he never stopped. So, I relented and spoke on October 5th, 2020 about the Philosophy of FileMaker covering:
  • Conditional Tab Control
  • Transactional Processing
  • Preferences


Never say never is my philosophy but many thanks to Eric Matthews for never stopping. I had a great time and would definitely make another visit to DIGFM. But, I have lots to say whether it's verbally or written or by example:BTW, these services are all free!

Claris Engage 2020
Formerly known as the FileMaker Developer Conference, or "DevCon" for short, the Claris Engage conference took a sharp turn in 2020. The name change was due to Claris purchasing Claris Connect but the change in direction was mostly due to the pandemic. Sure, the content is great as you can see from the videos that remain available to the public free of charge:

Claris Engage 2020

What's missing is the best part, which is meeting with people. Maybe you sit down at lunch and meet someone at the table who's working in the same field as you. You could also have a chance encounter at the bar and get a problem solved. Bonds from the events at DevCon last decades. You just never know what's going to happen when people get together. When they don't, you just get content :(

I would expect Claris Engage to be virtual again in 2021 but it's hard to say until we get there. There's no announcement at the Claris Engage web site, just information about Nashville 2020 (which never happened):

Claris Engage web site

Seems like they should update the web site with videos from Claris Engage 2020 but you can find most of them here in the Claris Community (you'll need to register to see the content):

Claris Engage videos

It's kinda hard to find the videos so scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link labeled "Relive Claris Engage".

There are also other languages, like Spanish, Italian, German too on YouTube ion their Playlists:

Claris Engage on YouTube

I tired to present links here but the videos are not very well organized on YoutTube. I'll let you guys take a crack at finding the correct language.

If you don't have a ton of time, take a look at the under the hood session from the "Relive Claris Engage" link I offered above (I couldn't seem to locate a YouTube link). There's tons of information about JavaScript, directly from the engineers mouths!

2021
In Twenty-Twenty-One, you should see a lot of JavaScript interfaces demonstrated, shared and sold. This is a great thing cause we still haven't seen all the possibilities with FileMaker and JavaScript integration. We will likely see a free Claris Engage again this year but we'll have to wait and see. As far as books, I don't think we are going to see much unfortunately. Look to blogs and videos as your best sources for the bleeding edge of FileMaker technology. And, you will certainly see four releases of FileMaker during 2021 and maybe even some more public speaking from me!

Author:
John Mark Osborne
jmo@filemakerpros.com
www.databasepros.com

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