Portage Bay
Portage Bay

March/April 2016

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Mar/Apr 2016 

Volume: 7   Issue: 2

Button Bar Portal Sorting


One of the missing features in FileMaker is the ability to add portal headers that can both sort portals and easily display the ascending or descending sorted order. Building and maintaining solutions that have sorting features has always been difficult to set up and maintain. It seemed as though adding and sorting was full of problems.

That is, until I found a great article by Kevin Frank on filemakerhacks.com. It is a multipart article about a very nice, fast sorting technique. I highly recommend you check it out. Geared more for the intermediate developer, it provides a great solution to sorting.

I began implementing the technique and was very happy with it. It seemed as though many of my portal sorting issues were solved. The sorting technique worked great, but a problem still remained. It was lacking a nice user interface that made "click to sort" feel like it should. Kevin’s technique was solid, but FileMaker lacked a good user interface element. Because of this, it was difficult to manage and maintain. At the time, FileMaker hadn’t introduced .svg support. Using raster graphics for icons came with a bunch of problems. You could use text characters, but they just didn’t look good.

Fast forward to the days of .svg and the button bar, and suddenly things begin to click into place. The modular piece I am sharing with you is actually the visual interaction with that sorting function. There are still some challenges, but this gets a lot closer.

For the sample file, I created 12 buttons total. After implementing the structure for Kevin’s sorting technique, they can be placed on any layout and, as long as you set the global variables that drive them, they set the sorting dependency and sort portals or lists.

In the sample file, the global variables that drive the sorting technique are set by a conditionally formatted text object. It evaluates itself to create the globals listed. You could just as easily create them in a script or some other process. If you use a multi-file solution, you will want to use global fields instead of global variables, and you will want to change the tables sort field calculations to use the global fields as well.

You also need to be careful when pasting them on a layout; basically, make sure they don’t rename themselves. But other than that, they should be easy to use.

Check out the video and download the sample file to find out more.

~Xandon Frogget

Optical Image Stabilization


I’ve been using cameras and binoculars with optical image stabilization for many years, but a recent weekend trip with friends and family reminded me how remarkable this technology has become. The picture of this Great Blue Heron was taken by a friend of mine with his new Fuji camera - from the ground about 200 feet away from the heron in the top of the tree, and yet it is super sharp. It wasn’t very many years ago that a photo like this would have absolutely required a tripod to get this kind of sharpness and clarity, but he took this picture freehand with a 200mm lens.

The pair of binoculars that I use are an image-stabilized Canon 8x25. They have a push button to activate the stabilization capability and it is amazing how much more clear and stable the view is once you push that button. Compared to an older pair of binoculars that I use from time to time, the difference is dramatic. I would never buy binoculars again without image stabilization (well, unless I wanted something extremely lightweight).

~John Newhoff

Keep Up to Date with FileMaker and 4th Dimension

Remember, the renewal price for FileMaker Server with FileMaker Go/WebDirect connections will be going up on May 12, 2016. You can lock in a one- or two-year renewal at the old price before then, so act fast!


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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 over 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 WebDirect


Mailing Address: 17115 NE 163rd Place, Woodinville, WA 98072