My previous post led me to YouTube, which reminded me of a few screen casts I did for O’Reilly when FileMaker Pro 9: The Missing Manual was released. I could only find two on line, but I thought I’d link them here in case anyone finds them useful.
FileMaker 9 Tips
The newest release of FileMaker is super exciting. We will be posting 9 awesome FileMaker 9 tips over the next few days. Hope you enjoy.
Alternating Color Based on Alternating Data
An interesting question popped up on the TechNet discussion list this evening:
>I have a list of records with dates, which often repeat from one record to the next. I want all the same dates to be one colour. Then the next date would be another color. The background color of the date field would alternate from one color to the other as the date changes.
I’ve never run in to this need before, but it sounds like something that would come in handy. It also proves to be just enough FileMaker challenge to be interesting. Here’s how to make it work.
Fixing FileMaker PDF Crashes on Mac OS X
FileMaker’s `Save Records as PDF` script step is, like, totally awesome. But there’s one teeny tiny issue: it sure likes to crash. We use this feature *a lot* with our customers, and under the right set of circumstances, we can see crashing on half or more of the machines our scripts run on. Luckily, it turns out this problem is easy to fix. It is such a frequent problem that I thought I’d save the googlers of the world some time and write up the solution here.
Tab Controls without the Tabs
Tab controls have added a wealth of options to FileMaker developers looking to better organize and present data to their clients. The only limitation is that the tabs could only be placed on the top of the tab controls isn’t always ideal. FileMaker 9 provides a much more powerful and interesting way of controlling your tabs.
Highlighting the Active Field in FileMaker
One of the common complaints our customers have is that they can’t tell which field they are in when using FileMaker. Before FileMaker 9, there was no way to fix this for them. With the addition of conditional formatting, not only can you highlight the active field but you can make it bold, a different color or perhaps even enlarge the font.
Stored Calculations and FileMaker Plug-ins
FileMaker Server does some funny things when you create a stored calculation that uses a plug-in. In fact, odds are you received everyone’s favorite invalid character, the `?`. This article explains why this occurs and gives some solutions for this rather pesky problem.
Configuring Firewall Ports for FileMaker 9
FileMaker Server 9 represents a pretty significant redesign of the FileMaker Server product line. One consequence of all the changes is that things may not work properly without reconfiguring your *firewall(s)*. Improper firewall configuration can lead to all kinds of problems, some obvious (I can’t connect to my server) and some not-so-obvious (the Server Admin Console opens, and then hangs). This article attempts to explain in full detail exactly how each participant in the FileMaker ecosystem communicates, so you can jump right past these problems and get to developing awesome databases.
Custom Page Numbers in PDFs and Printed Reports
In [FileMaker 9 Tip #6] we explained how to use the new Append to PDF feature in FileMaker 9. With it, you can build up a PDF file over many steps in a script, to produce a much more complex and data-rich PDF than was ever possible before. One of our readers, Norman Foster, asked a very sensible question:
>This Append looks great but can it paginate across the entire set of PDF files. I want the page numbers in footers or headers, and I want them to be sequential. -Norman Foster
The Append to PDF Feature doesn’t do this automatically, but with a little calculation magic, it can be done.
Getting Started with External SQL Sources
On the off chance you’ve been hiding under an old Microsoft Access box for the last couple weeks, let me be the first to tell you that FileMaker now supports direct links to SQL databases. In other words, you can use table from a [MySql], [Oracle], or [Microsoft SQL Server] database right in FileMaker with no synchronization, no imports, and *no messy SQL programming*. This is A Big Dealâ„¢ and many of you are justifiably very excited about it.
And you probably have one burning question: “How the heck do I set this thing up?” The sad truth is that, for reasons well beyond FileMaker’s control, setting up a connection to a SQL database is the opposite of simple. Here’s the skinny on how to get your FileMaker database talking to a SQL database in as few steps as possible.
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.