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

3rd Party Integrations

We can help integrate your FileMaker database with any of the 3rd party applications listed below and many more.

For more information, see Working With Us. To get started on a quote, fill out and submit our questionnaire.

Mobile App Development

We specialize in designing and deploying professional mobile apps.

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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 fastest and most efficient approach to developing and deploying your app.

The combination of FileMaker and the iOS SDK allows us to get your app developed, tested, and deployed quicker 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 any deployment processes and iterate much more quickly).

With FileMaker 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.

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Like any iOS application, your app can be managed via your preferred mobile device management system, whether you deploy it under FileMaker Go or as a standalone iOS app.

Easy Installation and Updates

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, Server Based, or Syncing 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 local device, completely server based, or that periodically synchronizes to the server. Sometimes there is a need to have the database remain local on the iOS device 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.

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. The file will run using the FileMaker Go app on your iOS device. For many applications this is the most efficient approach.

Mobile Web Apps - An Alternative Solution

With a mobile web app, you can leave behind the entire deployment process, whether involving the app store or not, there’s no need to install software on your device and changes made to your solution appear instantaneously on your device. We can build a solution using FileMaker WebDirect or the FileMaker Data API that will allow your application to be accessed via a web page on any mobile platform, including iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire.

For more information, see Working With Us. To get started on a quote, fill out and submit our questionnaire.

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.

FileMaker Driven Web Applications

FileMaker Data API

FileMaker is an excellent choice for solving business automation problems, automating processes, etc. It provides you with a uniquely powerful tool for rapidly developing workplace innovation solutions. Sometimes though, you need a traditional web application component for your FileMaker solution. Enter the FileMaker Data API, a RESTful interface to your FileMaker data.

The Data API introduced in FileMaker 16 provides powerful, low level, access to your FileMaker data from the most popular web development tools used on the Internet today.

Utilizing Node.js, Angular 6, and a host of other common web tools, Portage Bay Solutions can build web access into your application that can be used by anyone in the world to interact with your solution from any web browser.

A web application developed using the FileMaker Data API is a fast, easy to use web experience that does not require your web users to now anything at all about FileMaker.

Portage Bay has developed a suite of modular tools to speed development of Data API driven web applications.

What about WebDirect?

FileMaker WebDirect

While FileMaker WebDirect can provide a very low cost development environment for providing access to your application to team members using a web browser, it may not always be the ideal choice for developing public facing web applications.

WebDirect is very well suited to applications where the users of the application are known and will gain familiarity with your app. The Data API allows you to create a more familiar web experience for your intended audience.

In addition, there are cases where the licensing scenario favors the FileMaker Data API in creating a cost effective solution.

If WebDirect looks like the right choice for your project, we will be the first to recommend it.

FileMaker Data API Scenarios

FileMaker applications we are working with where FileMaker Data API development is in process or proposed.

Financial Reporting Application

This solution incorporates a sophisticated FileMaker Pro administering backend with an easy to use FM Data API web interface for end users to enter financial data for reporting purposes. The FM administrative portion was developed quickly and at low cost. The web application allows approximately 200 customers to login as needed for data entry and report analysis from any web browser. They experience a ‘standard’ web application and don’t even know FileMaker is involved.

Payment Processing Solution

Our client needed a simple and secure way for a customer to login and pay an invoice. The application did not need to be very sophisticated or complex. A combination of the Data API and a payment processing plugin on the server side provides a good solution.

Event Registration

The scenario involves a complex event management application written in FileMaker, where the client wants their customer to be able to register themselves for an event. The Data API allows a web application to be developed that walks the customer through the registration process from their web browser.

Collecting data can be cumbersome. All three of these scenarios allow end users to directly enter their own data, improving accuracy and reducing costs.

For more information, see Working With Us. To get started on a quote, fill out and submit our questionnaire.

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.

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For more information, see Working With Us. To get started on a quote, fill out and submit our questionnaire.

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 complete our questionnaire online.