10 Replies Latest reply on Jan 19, 2010 11:42 AM by philmodjunk

    General FileMaker Pro Questions..

    z0nghits

      Title

      General FileMaker Pro Questions..

      Post

      I currently am developing software that uses database data from an excel spreadsheet.  I have written it in both VB6 and Labview but would like to see if FileMaker is a better route to go.  Basically my software needs to be able to do the following:

       

      - Upon loading, user selects which US State they want to select, which will select a certain Excel spreadsheet database to work from. 

      - User enters how many "jobs" they want to do

      - Based on that jobs number, Diplays that many Tabs all containing a datagrid which will basically act as a subset of the main Database

      - User will navigate through the Main database, and pick and choose which records they want to add to the smaller Tab'd datafields

      - User can save all their data, re-load it at anytime, and also export it to PDF/HTML 

       

      The following image is my current software, at the top is the main Plant database they choose from.  Below, are other datagrids they can transfer records onto from the main database.  

       

      Is this idea possible in the realm of FileMaker?  Also, if  I develop and publish software using FileMaker Pro, can't it run on both Apple and Windows or does it needs to be rewritten/modified in Bento?

       

      Any input is appreciated.

       

       

        • 1. Re: General FileMaker Pro Questions..
          FentonJones
            

          Yes, you could do this with FileMaker. You would not be selecting from an Excel spreadsheet however, you would import that data into FileMaker, either fixed, or at runtime.

           

          The Filters would filter the "portal" below; it would look much the same (though perhaps slightly modernized look, if you want :-). A portal is a view into another (or same) table, filtered by whatever the "relationship" is between the two tables (table occurrences).

           

          The Quadrats could also be dynamic. The view you have closely resembles a FileMaker "tab object." It is a layout object (not a data object), so it is somewhat difficult to make tabs appear and disappear; though easy enough to select a specific tab. I would not do it that way however, as there is an easier way.

           

          The view within the quadrats is another portal, consistent within the "tabs," though varying data. So it could be a single filtered portal, filtered by buttons above. You could try and make the buttons look like tabs, but I wouldn't bother (because the connecting line may be difficult). I've done this with just rectangular buttons, and it looks fine.

           

          The buttons are actually portals also; actually multiple instances of the same relationship, with the 1st portal reading record 1, the next record 2, etc.. It is effectively a "horizontal portal". The values would be read from a little Quadrats table, with numbers for an ID, and whatever other data desired.

           

          When you click a button, it sets a field (global, unstored) to the quadrat number within the "button portal", which filters the portal, for that user. You could put a little button (trash can) inside those button portals, to remove that quadrat (so you don't need the "remove last quadrat"); unless you only ever remove the last one. I'd do the same for the "remove plant" (according to my interface rules, a button to delete something should be right next to the something). 

           

          P.S. The chosen quadrat number, and its background, can be highlighted via Conditional Formatting (a Layout mode option), so it stands out, effectively giving similar visual functionality as a "tab". 

          • 2. Re: General FileMaker Pro Questions..
            philmodjunk
              

            First off, Filemaker is a cross platform database. Database files may be created/accessed by computers using either Mac or Windows. There are a few issues related to OS differences, but they generally minor and there are ways to deal with those differences.

             

            Upon loading, user selects which US State they want to select, which will select a certain Excel spreadsheet database to work from. 

            Yes, though this is probably not be the best way to store your data. If you need it in Excel format so other applications can use it, you may want store the data in Filemaker and then export excel format files from your solution as needed. (I'm aware of lab statistics packages that require Excel files).

             

            User enters how many "jobs" they want to do. Based on that jobs number, Diplays that many Tabs all containing a datagrid which will basically act as a subset of the main Database

            That's a problem. Filemaker Tab Controls are static. They'll have however many tabs set for them when they are added to the layout. There are alternatives such as a filtered portal that would allow you to look at different sets of data based on an option The user selects from a menu.

             

            User will navigate through the Main database, and pick and choose which records they want to add to the smaller Tab'd datafields

            Yes, though in database terms, you may find it's a better option for the user to update a join table of links to selected records--depending on what exactly you are trying to do here.

             

            User can save all their data, re-load it at anytime, and also export it to PDF/HTML 

            Filemaker automatically saves data in its tables so that's not an issue. You can save as PDf to get PDF. HTML is also possible, but that will take quite a bit more work to do, I believe.

             

            The risk to these types of questions is that we can't picture the entire system the way you have from a single post. I'd suggest downloading a trial copy of FMP and seeing if it'll work for you.

            • 3. Re: General FileMaker Pro Questions..
              z0nghits
                
              I appreciate the input, sorry for the huge delay.  When you say Filemaker is a cross platform database, If i'm developing in Windows and when all is said and done I create an install which the user will run the .exe, it obviously won't be able to be ran on a Mac.  Or can you create a Mac install aswell as a Windows install?  One of the reasons I've been looking at FileMaker is because hopefully whatever software I develop can be run on both Windows and Mac with little modifications to the software architecture.  
               
              Are there any links to either demo or example programs that were written in FileMaker 10?  Possibly source and an executable?
               
              Thanks again,
              -Ed 
              • 4. Re: General FileMaker Pro Questions..
                philmodjunk
                  

                Think of Filemaker like you would a letter created by MS Word. You can't run the windows executable for Word on a Mac, but you can take a document created on your windows machine with MS Word and put it on a Mac. Then the Mac version of Word can open the document.

                 

                In Filemaker, your solution is a database file separate from the application in the same way. You can move the file from one platform to another, then open and use it--as long as the correct version of the filemaker application is installed on that computer.

                 

                As to demos, you can download a free 30 day trial copy of Filemaker if you want.

                • 5. Re: General FileMaker Pro Questions..
                  WoodApple
                     You can create runtimes(freely distributable applications that have some restrictions, pdf creation that filemaker does natively for example is not available in runtimes) for either/both platforms. You would need the other OS to create the runtime but could develop on either. 
                  • 6. Re: General FileMaker Pro Questions..
                    z0nghits
                      

                    I still think I am missing a big piece of the idea of FileMaker.  

                     

                    So I create a database using FileMaker pro, now I want other people to be able to open my software and basically create their own "projects" using my database layout.  How do they access my database if they don't own a copy of FileMaker?  When I finish creating my database in FileMaker, do I actually compile anything into for example an .exe?  

                     

                    My main goal is to create a web database using FileMaker so Macs/Windows users can access it, create their own projects, and save them so they can be viewed/modified by others.  Since I'll be the only one purchasing FileMaker, I want to be the only one who can edit the "main" Database, I just want a user to be able to access my software, and move data around into multiple tables, then do some calculations based on what records they selected, export a report to PDF/HTML, and save their project.  What on the user's end would they be using?  Sorry if I'm sound vague but I'm trying to picture what I'd be developing in opposed to what the customer would be using.  

                     

                    I have had a copy of the trial and have been viewing the tutorials but still seems to be missing something.

                     

                    Thanks again,

                    -Ed 

                    • 7. Re: General FileMaker Pro Questions..
                      philmodjunk
                        

                      If you acquire a copy of filemaker pro advanced, you can use it to create a "runtime" copy of your solution. (A solution can be one database file or a group of database files that work together.) This runtime copy bundles your files with a "crippled" copy of the filemaker application and some utility files. This run time copy can then be installed on another computer that does not have filemaker installed--provided it's the same operating system. To move the solution cross platform, you have to first install Filemaker advanced on a computer with the other operating system and use your files to create a runtime for that operating system. You can use the same set of your files for each and even interchange them if you follow the instructions for how to do this.

                       

                      As WoodApple already posted, these runtimes have some limitations. They can't publish to the web and they can't share the database over a network and they can't be used to design new database solutions.

                       

                      The other option for making a database available to users who do not have filemaker installed is to publish the database to the web where they can use a web-browser to access it. That's a complete other topic here with quite a few design trade-offs and different options.

                      • 8. Re: General FileMaker Pro Questions..
                        littledog
                          

                        Yes - "general questions".

                        You can get all you have wrote and much pore without any problems.

                        For example - drag Excel icon on FM icon and Excel opens and user can choose sheet to import ...etc. 

                        OS X and Windows platforms ar welcome.

                        Lot of answers you simply see on FM webpage. 

                        Idea to switch to FM is great. No better choice you can find  today.

                        • 9. Re: General FileMaker Pro Questions..
                          z0nghits
                            

                          Thanks again Phil,

                           

                          "The other option for making a database available to users who do not have filemaker installed is to publish the database to the web where they can use a web-browser to access it. That's a complete other topic here with quite a few design trade-offs and different options." 

                           

                          This seems to be where I would be leaning towards if I were to develop with FileMaker.  Just to be sure, to develop a web database I would need to purchase both FileMaker Pro (to create my database/layout with) as well as FileMaker Server to make it accessable by web users correct?  You mentioned there are some trade-offs and options, are there any links or descriptions to what is limited when going the web database route?  Would a user be able to login, browse my FileMaker database, and do what I posted previously such as copy records from my database to multiple tables, run calculations (based on what records they selected), save the project, export the results?  I'm currently digging filemaker's website for more information but anymore light you can shine on the subject is appreciated.

                           

                          -Ed 

                           

                          • 10. Re: General FileMaker Pro Questions..
                            philmodjunk
                              

                            With filemaker pro you can have up to 5 simultaneous users connect to a database with Instant Web Publishing (IWP) enabled. With Filemaker Server Advanced, you can host many more users and have custom web publishing (CWP) options.

                             

                            These are both approaches that can add considerable complexity to your system. I sugest using the advanced search link above to search out threads on these two subjects. There are also PDF documents on both forms of web publishing available on Filemaker's download page.