New Jersey FileMaker User Group: April Meeting Review

The New Jersey FileMaker Pro User Group’s April 26, 2012 meeting was held at the Ridgewood Board of Education. Matt O’Dell, Northeast Systems Engineer, was joined by Jason Fiske and Steven Gallagher of FIleMaker Inc., to introduce a packed audience to the new features and benefits introduced in FileMaker 12.

Matt began by reviewing the new themes and starter files, which provide cohesive designs for FileMaker Pro clients, as well as FileMaker Go users on iOS. Brand new design options include gradients, opacity, and rounded corners, “States” allow developers to assign distinct attributes to objects under normal, hover, focus, and pressed conditions. These new tools will help speed up programming and limit developers’ need to leave the FileMaker environment, while providing end-users with useful interface subtleties.

Additional layout-based tools include an array of grids and guides. Stencils support most standard screen sizes, and an explicit right edge eliminates the need for hidden anchor objects. Dynamic guides also help resize and position items uniformly throughout a solution. When multiple objects are resized together, they do so proportionally; text (not just fields) can have borders applied on an edge-by-edge basis, and objects can be filled with an image that is tiled, scaled, or sliced.

FileMaker 12 provides managed media content; there are new options for storing referenced binary data, encrypting external files, and optimizing content access. A range of new controls are available: Manage Containers (file level), storage and validation settings for each field, and inspector settings for containers on layouts. Audio and visual files can be streamed, all pages of a PDF can be viewed from inside FileMaker, and binary data can be dragged into and between containers.

There are several new functions, including ExecuteSQL (to be used with Select statements) and a new function category, Mobile functions, to support mobile devices. A new style of merge symbols supports the full range of Get functions. Scripting additions include support for plug-in control as well as both floating and dialog windows.

Improvements to FileMaker Server include a new 64-bit architecture, more efficient cache flushing, and improved performance overall. The web publishing engine has been completely rewritten. FMS now supports progressive backups, and FMS Advanced offers a Group Start Page.

Executive end-users are bound to appreciate the newest chart features. New chart types and formatting options have been added, and charting is “smarter,” recognizing existing sort orders and anticipating users’ intentions. Now almost anyone can create a chart on the fly – no access to layout mode is required. If a users does have layout, field and script access, a single button can be used to create  a stored chart object; otherwise, it’s another simple button click to initiate chart output to paper or PDF.

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