Portage Bay
Solutions
Portage Bay

FileMaker Pro Development

A well-designed relational database system can be the key competitive advantage that sets your firm apart from other companies in your industry, allowing you to quickly implement new business processes and react to new opportunities.

Portage Bay prides itself in creating solutions that will improve the productivity of your staff as well as addressing your database needs. We specialize in database programming using FileMaker Pro from FileMaker, Inc.

We can help you address all stages of the software development life cycle from planning and requirements to integration and installation.

 

Database services we provide:

  • Preparation of database specifications
  • Custom application development
  • Technical support and training
  • Database documentation
  • Cross-platform development (Macintosh and Windows)
  • Customization and support of existing applications
  • Upgrades to new versions of FileMaker
  • Contract database programming services
  • Microsoft Access to FileMaker conversions
  • Web/Database integration (WebDirect, PHP, JavaScript, HTML, CSS)
  • Multiple environment integration - FileMaker to MS SQL Server, MySQL, SQLite, etc.
  • FileMaker Go for iPad/iPhone development

For more information, see Working With Us. To get started on a quote, fill out and submit our questionnaire (also available in downloadable format, if you'd rather mail it back to us).

FileMaker & iOS

What’s the easiest way to deploy, update and release your FileMaker application to the iPhone/iPad? Turn your application into a native iOS app! You can do this with FileMaker.

With the release of the FileMaker iOS SDK, it’s now possible to have standalone apps on the iPhone/iPad built with FileMaker. This means you can install your app from the App Store and run your custom app without using FileMaker Go.

Easy Installation and Updates

The major benefit of this approach is that it allows the user to install just one application from the App Store.  The old approach, called the Web Clip approach, involves installing FileMaker Go and installing an iOS Configuration Profile that creates a web clip/launch icon on the home screen of the iPhone/iPad. The old method can be quite tedious and cumbersome and requires about a page of instructions for the user to follow in order to get the launch icon set up and working. With the SDK, it’s simple. The user installs one app from the App Store, the one we’ve created for their solution, and any updates to the app are run just like updating any other iOS app.

Launcher Files for Hosted Solutions

We’ve recently begun work on creating a launcher app for E-Com, our compliance database for K-12 special education. This solution was easy to develop. The file is simple in that it takes a given host name that is entered by the user, then launches the E-Com file on the specified host. This small file with a few scripts is the entire app. The benefit of this approach is that it is simple and easy to implement and simplifies access to the hosted file from the iPhone/iPad.

Syncing Data for Local Solutions

Sometimes there is a need to have the database remain local on the iPhone/iPad so that the user is able to use it without access to the internet. In this case a syncing process to push and pull that data from the server to the local app can be developed. This solution does take more time to implement, but in cases where it is not possible to access hosted databases on the iPhone/iPad, it is a great solution.

For more information or to see what others are saying about the SDK, see below:

appleinsider

geist interactive

Filemaker Support

Cult of Mac

JavaScript & FileMaker

FileMaker is a powerful and rapid application development tool, but like any tool, it is really good at some things and less well suited for others.

Fortunately, FileMaker gives us a number of tools for extending its capabilities. The ability to use third party plugins (360Works, MonkeyBread, etc.) is a good example, but we’ve also found JavaScript to be a very useful tool for broadening FileMaker’s capabilities in many areas.

With the webviewer object in FileMaker, we have the extremely flexible option of using Javascript to extend a given database's capabilities and functionality.

JavaScript is the most commonly used programming language to power dynamic web pages. It has a large developer community creating JavaScript libraries, available as open source tools, for various purposes.  Many of these can be incorporated into the design of a FileMaker database.

In one recent example, Xandon used JavaScript to incorporate clustering and color-coding into a Google map for a client. In another example, Joe used HTML and CSS to add hashtags to a Pearl Jam inventory database.

We can greatly expand the functionality of a database (as well as the cool factor) with the use of JavaScript, PHP, and other tools.

4D, Inc

A well-designed relational database system can be the key competitive advantage that sets your firm apart from other companies in your industry, allowing you to quickly implement new business processes and react to new opportunities.

Portage Bay prides itself in creating solutions that will improve the productivity of your staff as well as addressing your database needs. We specialize in database programming using 4th Dimension, published by 4D, Inc.

We can help you address all stages of the software development life cycle from planning and requirements to integration and installation.

Database services we provide:

  • Preparation of database specifications
  • Custom application development
  • Technical support and training
  • Database documentation
  • Cross-platform development (Macintosh and Windows)
  • Customization and support of existing applications
  • Upgrades to new versions of 4th Dimension
  • Contract database programming services
  • Microsoft Access to 4D conversions
  • Web/Database Integration (PHP integration)
  • Multiple environment integration - 4D to MS SQL Server, MySQL, SQLite, etc.

For more information, see Working With Us. To get started on a quote, fill out and submit our questionnaire (also available in downloadable format, if you'd rather mail it back to us).

iOS App Development

We specialize in designing and deploying professional mobile apps.

ios10-iphone7-app-store-search-app.jpg

What’s the most efficient way to deploy, update and release your iOS application to the iPhone/iPad? Utilize the FileMaker iOS SDK as your iOS development platform.

There are a variety of different programming environments one can use to write a custom iOS app. When choosing between Objective-C, Swift or HTML5, FileMaker is the obvious choice if you want the most speedy and efficient way to develop and deploy your app.

The combination of FileMaker and the iOS SDK allow us to get your app developed, tested, and deployed into the app store faster than any other development environment.

Prototyping is particularly impressive as we can have an app running within FileMaker Go for preview and testing in as little as a few days (utilizing FileMaker Go allows us to bypass the app store deployment and approval phase).

With FileMaker Go 16’s integration capabilities, your iOS app can act as a front end for data stored in a variety of other systems like SalesForce, Dynamics, or Zoho.

Like any iOS application, Your app can be managed via your preferred mobile device management system.

Easy Installation and Updates

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Utilizing the app store for your iOS application deployment provides the user with a simple mechanism with which they are likely already familiar. Utilizing ‘in app’ update technology that we have developed, we can deploy new versions of the application to your users on an as needed basis with little or no involvement from your users.

Local or Server Based Solutions

Using FileMaker as our development platform for iOS apps allows us to easily choose between several options for managing the data in the application. We can create an app whose data is entirely resident on the device, completely server based, or use a synchronization model so that your application can operate offline, but synch data to your server as required.

FileMaker Go App for the iOS

Not sure you need a full fledged iOS app? FileMaker Go, an iOS app from FileMaker Inc., allows your application to be deployed to the iPhone or iPad without requiring the app store approval process.

For more information, see Working With Us. To get started on a quote, fill out and submit our questionnaire (also available in downloadable format, if you'd rather mail it back to us).

Working with Us

Whether you are starting a new project from scratch or are planning on improving upon an existing application, we will work closely with you every step of the way.

Developing a custom database solution is a very collaborative process where we will work together to insure a solution that meets your needs. We use the agile development process because it works well to deliver a high quality application that can adapt to your needs, even in situations where our customers may not be that familiar with custom database development.

The Agile development process values an incremental development approach where the requirements can evolve as the project does. By quickly releasing versions of the software and reviewing it together, we can adapt the software to respond to changing needs as these changes are discovered.

We have found that breaking projects up into development iterations using agile methodology helps to divide the work into more manageable chunks and gets a working solution in the hands of our clients faster. The sooner our clients can start working with the solution, the sooner we can see areas of misunderstanding or missing business rules. This works well to ensure deliverables meet expectations and budgets and timelines are met.

A sample agile development project using Trello

Planning Phase

The project will start with a broad planning phase where we will ask a lot of questions about your organization and the business processes to be codified in the custom database solution. To get things started in this phase, we have developed a project questionnaire. We will arrange an in-person meeting or a virtual meeting using GoToMeeting. Depending on the project, we may create mockups of the proposed screens in order to insure we are on the same page with our client. The end goal of this phase is to have a Product Backlog, or list of initial requirements for the database.

Agile Sprint Development/Release Phases

After having completed the Product Backlog, we will begin with the development and release phase (or sprint). We use Scrum methodology with the goal of delivering working software at the end of each 2-4 week sprint. There will be as many sprints as necessary to reach deployment of the fully functioning solution.

Sprint Planning

For each sprint, we start with a sprint planning meeting to determine a concise detailed list of requirements (the Sprint Backlog) that will be delivered at the end of the sprint iteration. This will be a list that is pulled from the Product Backlog. This will involve a meeting and will allow us to gather the information needed to define the work to be done in that phase and continue to monitor costs in relation to estimates. A key component to a successful sprint is limiting the backlog to a feature set that is achievable in the 2 to 4 week time frame.

Sprint Development

Once the Sprint Backlog has been determined, our development team will spend 1-4 weeks completing the list of features and preparing a functional end product for you. During this phase we will use a tool like Trello or FogBugz to manage the project. Often we will create a Trello Kanban board and share it with you so that we can all collaborate and track the progress of the project. Your involvement with testing during the sprint will be very important.

Sprint Review and Retrospective

Once the Sprint Development is complete, we will schedule another meeting to review the progress and (if necessary) demonstrate the features that have been completed. At this time, we will work together to review feedback and revise any requirements as needed. In the retrospective we will discuss what went well and did not go well from the last sprint as we prepare for the next sprint.

Testing

Testing is a critically important part of the custom database development process. We don’t know your business or organization the way you do, and so your active involvement in testing the solution will be essential to the success of the project.

Ongoing Support

Once the project is finished, we will always be available for ongoing support. Our commitment to forming long-term relationships with our clients has given us the opportunity to work with some clients for as long as 25 years now.

Project Management Tools We Use

GoToMeeting - used for virtual meetings

TeamViewer - used for remote access to servers

Trello - used for project management

FogBugz - used to track issues and ongoing application support

A sample FogBugz case, used to for ongoing support for applications.

Want to get started? You can either complete our questionnaire online, or download it, fill it out and email it back to us.