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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Filemaker Error 401

No this is not an AP class on FileMaker Errors. FileMaker Error 401 refers to the dreaded, script killing, FileMaker Error 401. Many of us have encountered an annoying pop-up stating “No records match this set of find requests” in the middle of our carefully crafted scripts and don’t really know where it comes from. The error message FileMaker’s way of saying that your script just performed a find, and it couldn’t find any records. But in practice, you often don’t want to tell your _users_ no records were found. Instead, you just want you script to note this fact, adjust its behavior accordingly, and keep on trucking. More often than not, when this error message pops up, the poor user can’t figure out what to do: “Should I Cancel? or should I Modify Find?” Perhaps he just pounds the escape key until something happens. All three choices seem like perfectly rational responses to me, but are probably not what the programmer intended.

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