Category Archives: Level: Any

Life After Anchor/Buoy



Earlier this month I was contacted by a DevCon presenter asking permission to include some slides from my eleven-year old anchor/buoy materials as part of his presentation. I said I’d be honored, but then added, “You might mention that I haven’t used A/B on a new project in about eight years.” He asked what system I was using instead, and a number of other colleagues have wondered as well, which brings us to the topic of today’s article.

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Tips ’n’ Tricks, part 1

Over the last few years I’ve been collecting miscellaneous tips and tricks with the thought of eventually aggregating them into a blog posting, and it appears that day has finally come. Ideally there will be something new and useful here for developers of all levels, from the neophyte to the most grizzled of FileMaker veterans.

We start off with a couple FM 14-specific tips.

Tip #1: Tool tips in layout mode

In layout mode in FileMaker 14 you can hover your mouse over any badge and an informative tool tip will display.


Tip #2: Shift-Return in the Script Workspace

Did you know you can add new line above the current line in the Script Workspace by pressing Shift-Return? It works with the standard Return key, as well as the numeric Enter key.


Before… line 1 is active, and the user is about to press Shift-Return

After... a new top line has been added

After… a new top line has been added, and existing entries have moved down to accommodate

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Update 5 May 2014: article and demo have been updated as per observations by Jeremy Bante in the comments section.

This weekend I threw together a Unicode utility file ( It takes the values 1 through 65535 and converts them into Unicode symbols, and makes it easy to copy characters and values into the clipboard.

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(The original version of the demo had 99999 records, but as pointed out by Jeremy in the comments section below, the range 65537 – 99999 is a repeat of the range 1 – 34463, with 65536 being a special case.)

Any value over 99999 the Char function will interpret as multiple characters, and bear in mind that multiple values are interpreted a) from right to left, and b) in five digit blocks with leading zeros, except the leftmost one will not have leading zeros.

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Live Development + “New Record”

Recently there has been discussion in the FileMaker community regarding a known problem with live development (i.e., modifying database schema while other users are connected to the system). The problem is that under certain circumstances, the “New Record” command and script step will fail.

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The aim of this article is to identify some specific circumstances under which New Record will fail, and also identify some specific circumstances under which it will *not* fail, and is based on a series of tests conducted using FMS 13v1 and a couple clients running FMP Advanced 13v3.

Disclaimer: These are preliminary findings and do not claim to be exhaustive or conclusive. If you are doing live development, you should test for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Methodology: A system with two tables, Sales and Employees, was used. For all tests, the developer opened Manage Database and then did something (or in the case of the first test, nothing), but then did not click OK — instead the Manage Database dialog was left open. In no case was the “OK” button clicked.

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Site Migration Complete

If you recently experienced broken links within this site, they have now been corrected. If you’ve had problems coming into this site via an external link, here are updated links to recent articles, and I apologize for any inconvenience.

FM13: Summary List + Virtual List

Summary List Fields in FM 13, part 2

Summary List Fields in FM 13, part 1

FileMaker 13 Popovers

Generating Sample Data

It’s Sorta A Value List Thing

Tab Panels: Seen, Unseen and Simulated

Conditional Tab Panel Access


Resolved: My Very Own Twitter Impersonator


Dear Friends, Colleagues and Fellow FileMaker Enthusiasts,

You know the old saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Well, I’m here to tell you that having experienced it first hand, I’m not feeling even remotely flattered. Pissed off? Yes. Violated? Yes. But not flattered, and not amused. Here’s the short version:


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The Impostor:

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Here’s a longer version: Last year a colleague wrote to ask why I wasn’t using my logo on my Twitter postings. Me: “I don’t do Twitter.” Him: “Sure you do, I’m one of your followers!”

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An In-Depth Look at “Export Field Contents”

Have you ever wanted to export a single field and maintain all the characters in that field? This article explores the possibility with XML Export and the use of a simple XSLT. But first we’ll explain the good, the bad and the ugly of some different standard ways to export TEXT out of FileMaker.

Using this sample text in one field (and one record) we will make different exports and review the results:

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Lookups and Repeaters

Not long after FileMaker 7 was released, I happened to mention to one of my colleagues (Ilyse Kazar, in case you were wondering), “Now that auto-enter calcs have gotten so much more powerful, there’s really never a reason to use a lookup ever again, is there?”

“Actually,” she replied, “there is one thing that you can do with a lookup that you can’t do with an auto-enter calc…” and proceeded to tell me what it was. I promptly built a primitive prototype of today’s demo file, to see for myself, and she was indeed correct.

At first blush, it appears that every feature of the venerable FileMaker lookup option for fields can be replicated via auto-enter calculation — until you attempt to populate repeating fields that is, because it turns out that auto-enter calcs can only address a field’s first repetition.

If you ever need to set or clear a whole bunch of reps at once, you will appreciate how easy a lookup can make this operation. Continue reading

Combinations and Pascal’s Triangle, part 1

Recently I needed to calculate all the possible combinations for these modifier keys:

Alt, Control, Shift, Window (abbreviated as A,C,S,W)

…ranging from none of them to all four, and every combination in between. I didn’t want to miss any of them, so calculating the total number of possible combinations seemed like a good idea. (As you may have noticed, this was on a Windows computer, and no, I didn’t forget Caps Lock — it wasn’t relevant in this case.)

As it happens, there is a very simple formula, 2^x, where x represents the total number of objects, for counting all possible combinations (including none).

So, the answer was 2^4, or 16, as follows: A, AC, AS, AW, ACS, ACW, ASW, ACSW, C, CS, CW, CSW, S, SW, W and none. Continue reading

Cartesian Join Experiment

Disclaimer: This one falls into the category of just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. I do not recommend implementing this technique in a real-world solution, in case it should break in some future version of FileMaker.

One thing that bothers me about cartesian join relationships is that they’re implemented at the field level, when from a logical perspective they are actually table-to-table joins (their purpose is to give each table access to all rows in the other table). It seems like we ought to be able to link a table to another table directly, without bothering with fields at all, and it turns out we can… sort of.

7-13-2013 8-09-31 PMTo create a “table-to-table” cartesian join like the one at the left, start by defining a new field in each table… the field type doesn’t matter, because it’s going to have a very short lifespan. Continue reading