FileMaker 9 Tip#9: Web Viewers without the Web

Another day, another awesome new FileMaker 9 feature. Today’s special: so called *data URLs*. In a nutshell, you don’t need a web site to use web viewers anymore. Now they can easily (read: without crazy exports and obscene path hacks) show data pulled right from the FileMaker database itself. This is, like, *way* cooler than it sounds.

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Importing Non-Standard Text Files

This question came up on [Macintouch](

>Can you import an ASCII (.txt) file into Filemaker Pro 9 that uses a dollar sign ($) as a field delimiter within a record? The file is too big to bring into Excel first (on the way to filemaker).

Unfortunately, FileMaker 9 does not change the supported import formats, and $ delimited is *not* on the list. On the bright side, there are several ways to deal with this sort of thing in FileMaker.

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FileMaker 9 Tip#6: Append to PDF

How many times have you wanted to produce a report that showed *two different* lists of records? Or a couple pages of summary information, then a list of raw data? Or a title page, then a few pages of charts, then one list of data, then a few more charts, then a second list? In FileMaker, reports are tied to layouts, and a layout is tied to just one table. Of course you can just print several reports one after the other, but that doesn’t help if you want to *email* the report as a PDF, or store it on the file server.

Luckily, you can do all this (and more) with the new Append to PDF feature in FileMaker 9. Once you see it in action, you’ll agree it is very useful.

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FileMaker 9 Tip#4: Temporary Files

There comes a time in every FileMaker developer’s life when she needs to export a file *temporarily*. Maybe you’re exporting records only to import them right back in again later. Or perhaps your creating a PDF file that you *only* want to email to someone.

And with this need comes an eternal question: Where should you *put* it?

Finally, in FileMaker 9, we have an answer.

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FileMaker 9 Tip#3: Get the Most from Autoresize

FileMaker Pro 9 has another awesome new feature: *Autoresize*. Now your layout elements can stretch their legs when you give them a bigger window. Auto-resize lets you tell FileMaker how different elements on the layout should stretch and move as the window is resized by the user. But it can be a little tough to understand exactly how it works. Here are three tips to help you take best advantage of this awesome new feature.

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FileMaker 9 Tip#2: Disabling a Button

In the old days, we used to joke that FileMaker’s user interface tools were stuck in the 1970s. You could make a long list of things *every application in the world did* that were hard to do in your own FileMaker-based systems. In the last several years, though, FileMaker Inc. has knocked a lot of biggies off this list: Custom Menus, Tab Controls, modern-looking check boxes and radio buttons. Oh wait, scratch that last one.

Now we’re left to fuss about things that are a lot less significant. But one area of constant annoyance in my user interface work is disabled buttons. I got my first Mac in 1986, and way back then, if some button on the screen just didn’t apply, it was sensibly grayed out, giving the user a clear indication that it wasn’t worth clicking. But in FileMaker, if you put a button on a layout, it has just one look. Even if you-the-wise-developer know exactly when it shouldn’t be clicked, you have no simple way to tell your user. Or do you?

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FileMaker 9 Tip#1: Hiding Something on the Layout

One of the most exciting new features in FileMaker 9 is *Conditional Formatting*. I think this is awesome because now you can apply dynamic custom styles to layout elements without adding dozens of crufty unstored calcs to your table. When I first started playing with conditional formatting, though, I felt a little let down by one thing: There’s apparently no way to make something *disappear* using conditional formatting. I often have the need to show something to my user — an informational message, indicator icon, or even a button — only under certain conditions. It turns out that with some creative thinking, **you can show and hide layout elements with conditional formatting**. (Some restrictions apply.)

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Announcing the Ruby API for FileMaker

We just rolled out 1.0 of Rfm It’s an awesome object-oriented API for Ruby. With it, you can talk to FileMaker server.

In the past you had to have FileMaker Server Advanced to do anything like this, but with today’s announcement of FileMaker Server 9, that is no longer the case. Now the regular $999 server has full XML publishing capabilities. This is huge.

So if you use Ruby or Ruby on Rails, or you’ve always wondered what it’s all about, have a peek.

Click here to find out more about Rfm

Scaling Images in a Web Viewer


A recent post on the [TechNet][technet] mailing list posed an interesting question:

>When displaying an image in a web viewer, is there any way to scale the image to fit?

Of course container fields have this ability built right in (by way of the Format -> Graphic command). But there are several reasons you might want to show pictures in a web viewer instead. Most notably, the images might already be on a web site. There’s no reason to copy them into the FileMaker database too, wasting space and adding more to your already busy schedule. Is there any way to give web viewers container-like scaling ability?

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