Author Archives: Kevin Frank

Exposed by Tableau

Editor’s note: today we have a guest article written by John Weinshel, who has been quietly contributing to the FileMaker community for 20+ years. John’s thoughtful postings have helped developers at all levels of expertise, and I’m pleased to present his thoughts on Tableau here on FileMaker Hacks.

Demo files: exposed-by-tableau.zip (6Mb, contains two .twbx files)
Tableau trial: https://www.tableau.com/products/trial

The Tableau connector widget for the FMS 16 data API has made developers aware of the incredible interactive charts and graphs in Tableau. What may be less obvious is that Tableau can also tease out data that is hard to see natively—independently of the cool graphs.

FileMaker data is about a thing, an entity—the customer, stock, auto part, invoice item, reservation. With some additional work, we can see patterns in groups of data, but the default is to deal with it at the row level.

Visualization tools like Tableau, on the other hand, start out with groups of data. With some additional work, Tableau can elicit information about individual records, but the default is to work at the aggregate level. One of its strengths is, in fact, revealing patterns about groups of groups.

This post looks at how Tableau can—apart from its dazzling graphics—reveal hidden information within FileMaker data. It does not get into how to build calcs and views, nor how to connect Tableau to FileMaker data; some suggestions for learning about Tableau appear at the end of this article. Continue reading

Virtual List on Steroids

[Note 1: as always a huge thank you to Bruce Robertson, for inventing virtual list, and for many other contributions to the FM community over the years.]

[Note 2: the following assumes the reader is familiar with basic concepts presented in Virtual List Reporting, part 1.]

This is a follow up article to document new material from my recent FM-DiSC presentation: Virtual List on Steroids. The presentation was intended for developers who are (at least) somewhat familiar with virtual list, but for those not actively using virtual list, I decided to begin with a demonstration of “the problem” (or one of the problems at any rate) that virtual list was invented to solve.

Demo file #1: Step One – Admitting There’s A Problem

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Reciprocal Linkage, part 3

Note: Leaner does not always mean faster, especially if record counts will be large… in which case I would recommend going with the approach discussed in part 2.

[3 Jan 2018: demo updated to version 3.2 as per Jens Rasmussen’s comment below.]

[2 Nov 2017: demo updated to version 3.1 as per my exchange with Jonathan Mickelson in the comments section below.]

I thought after part 2 that this technique had been thoroughly discussed and dissected, but Geoff Gerhard of Creative Solutions writes to point out that, if the goal is to have as few moving parts as possible, the table occurrence (TO) count can be further reduced, from four to three…

…and he has provided a demo file which I am sharing with his permission.

Demo file: reciprocal-linkage-GGv3.2.zip

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Reciprocal Linkage, part 2

This is a quick follow up to last week’s article on reciprocal (bi-directional) linking, and will assume the reader is familiar with that material. Paul Jansen of APJ Computing Solutions sent in a revision of one of my files demonstrating that, among other things, the graph could be a good deal leaner (as per my stated goal of making the approach as simple and lightweight as possible), and I am sharing that file today with his permission, along with my own attempt at further simplification.

Demo Files

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Reciprocal Linkage

Challenge: in a multiuser document management system, facilitate the linking (and unlinking) of any document with any other. Make it clear which documents are linked to the current document, and make sure the approach is multiuser friendly — in other words, allow document records to be linked and unlinked even if one or both of those document records are currently being edited by another user.

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Today we have two demo files, one using standard serial numbers and one using UUIDs. Except for serials vs. UUIDs, the two files are functionally identical, and in the interest of clarity, I’m going to focus primarily on the serial number version.

Demo files: reciprocal linkage & reciprocal linkage with uuids  Continue reading

Virtual List Reporting + JSON

Update 29 June 2018: see Virtual List Reporting with JSON Arrays for updated thoughts on this topic.

Today we’re going to look at an alternative approach to the multi-window VLR technique we examined last month in Virtual List Reporting part 3, utilizing and extending techniques introduced in last month’s JSON + Virtual List. To avoid needless repetition, today’s article will assume the reader is familiar with that material.

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Demo files: vlr-plus-json-v1 and vlr-plus-json-v2

As you may recall from VLR Part 3, we have a system that allows us to spawn as many separate reports as we wish (each in its own browse mode window) and sort each report independently via clickable column headings. Continue reading

JSON + Virtual List, part 2

31 July 2017: As per my exchange with Beverly Voth in the comments section, the date encoding technique used here is strictly intended for situations where FileMaker will both produce AND consume the JSON.

Demo file: json-plus-virtual-list-part-2.zip

This is a short follow-up to part 1, to demonstrate an alternative idea re: JSON date encoding. As you may recall, JSON does not have a “date” type, and one of our goals is to encode and decode JSON dates in a region-agnostic manner (e.g., encode in a region where MM/DD/YYYY is the default, but then decode in a region where DD/MM/YYYY is the default).

To accomplish this goal, in part 1, we wrapped our FileMaker dates inside a GetAsNumber function when pushing them to JSON so they looked like this:

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