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July/Aug 2015 News

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July/Aug 2015 

 Volume: 6   Issue: 2

FileMaker v14: New Features

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On May 12th, FileMaker released the latest version of their database platform. FileMaker Pro, Server, and Go have all been updated to version 14. 

Some of the notable new features we’re excited about are:

Significant enhancements to the script programming environment, called the “Script Workspace.” You now have the option to write scripts almost entirely from the keyboard. Similar to a number of other programming environments, the script editor now supports color hinting, auto-completion, and line numbers. You can also have multiple scripts open and switch back and forth by an automatically maintained tab interface. This new interface also incorporates the functionality to search for and edit scripts on the fly, as well as a new calculation dialog that incorporates auto-complete and the ability to search for calculations.

FileMaker’s WebDirect technology is now officially supported on mobile browsers, including Safari for iOS and Chrome for Android. Performance has been improved by as much as 25% and the number of supported browser connections increased to 100.

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A new layout object, called the Button Bar, is now available to streamline the creation of navigation functionality. The new button bar has a great looking interface for assigning and customizing up to 140 button icons to use in a solution.

New top and bottom navigation parts allow you to scroll up and down on a page while the navigation remains static, hovering above the layout.

Both FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Go 14 will now attempt to reestablish a server connection if the device goes to sleep or briefly loses internet connectivity. This reconnect feature should be very helpful, in particular for some of our clients who have company-wide policies for  computers going to sleep after a period of idle time.

We’re anxious to dig into some of these new features, especially the Script Workspace. For more information on FileMaker 14 and other new features, check out the official FM14 web page.

~Joe Ranne

Review: Automatic

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Automatic is both a hardware device and a software platform for monitoring information about your car. The hardware is a simple plugin device that plugs into your cars diagnostic port (OBD-II) . It connects with the app on your phone via low energy bluetooth. Installation is quite simple and easy.

The app communicates with the OBD-II plugin to get information about acceleration, deceleration, error codes, and gas consumption. It uses location services on your phone to track where you’ve been and plot where and when you’ve had hard braking or abrupt acceleration events. It also keeps track of each trip you take and what your mileage is per trip.

The app will also read error codes so that if your Check Engine light comes on, you can find out what the error code is without having to go to the mechanic. If its something simple, like a missing gas cap, you can clear the error code from the app on your phone and make the Check Engine light go away.

You can view the information on the Automatic web site or on your phone. It's a cool little device and app, but I doubt that I will actually change my driving habits based on the data being gathered. I suspect most people are fairly ‘normal’ drivers and having an app tell you your exact mileage (if your car doesn’t already tell you that) isn’t going to cause you to take a different route or drive differently.

Overall, it's interesting to play with, but I’m not sure it delivers a lot of value to the average person.

~John Newhoff

Retaining Object Locations

For those who develop in practically any framework other than FileMaker, this is an issue that you’ve really never had to think about, but for FileMaker developers, this is something we have learned to handle over the years. The majority of traditional frameworks use some form of a style sheet language to control the basic look and feel of a page, so most objects only need to be defined once. In FileMaker, each layout needs to be specifically designed down to each pixel. Setting a theme can shave a few minutes off the design process, but custom layout objects like navigation bars, icons, and field labels outside of the theme need to be copied and pasted from layout to layout.

Prior to FM12, the only way to copy and paste an object into the exact location from another layout was to make a note of the position in the Inspector before copying the object to another layout. As of FileMaker 12, there’s a new trick: 

  • On the current layout, enter browse mode to commit any changes
  • Go back into layout mode and select the object or objects you want to copy
  • Copy the object (Command+C on OSX or Control+C on Windows)
  • Navigate to the target layout while in Layout mode
  • Enter Browse mode
  • Go back into Layout mode again
  • Without clicking anywhere on that layout, paste the object onto the layout (Command+V on OSX or Control+V on Windows)

If you accidentally click anywhere on the layout before pasting the object, you can enter browse mode, go back into layout mode, then paste the object and it will retain the location.

That’s it! With all that saved time, you can get in an extra episode of Game of Thrones!

~Joe Ranne

FileMaker News

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DevCon this year will include a new "Training Day" series, available without a full conference pass. You can get an entire day of instructor-led training by a FileMaker Business Alliance trainer for only $99 USD, at either a beginner or intermediate level. DevCon is in Las Vegas, Nevada this year, and the training day is July 20, from 8-5. To register for the full conference, or for either of the training options, go to http://devcon.filemaker.com

Keep Up to Date with FileMaker and 4th Dimension

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4D v14.3

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Who We Are

Portage Bay Solutions is a database development firm based in Seattle, Washington that's been working with organizations of all sizes for almost 20 years. Our customer service is top-notch; we answer and return calls promptly, stay within budget, and provide quality support to our clients during all phases of the development process.

  • FileMaker Pro & 4th Dimension upgrade and development
  • MS Access to FileMaker conversions
  • FileMaker Pro & 4th Dimension integration with other data environments
  • Web/Database integration
  • FileMaker Instant Web Publishing
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