8 Replies Latest reply on Apr 18, 2012 11:26 PM by tropicalviking

    Is it me, or are the help files that come with filemaker pro 10 really poor

    trouty

      Title

      Is it me, or are the help files that come with filemaker pro 10 really poor

      Post

      Sorry to say it, but Filemaker 10 Pro isn't working out for me.  Had previously been using the really great Lotus Approach software for my database requirements which has the most helpful help!

       

      Filemaker help tells you all the most basic stuff, but doesn't want to help if it's the next step up.

       

      I've recently moved over from Lotus Approach to Filemaker, as I'd read that the sendmail within FM was instantly useable and didn't require scripting as per Approach.  So bought the package, but can I find out whether I can combine text strings and fields together under the "Message" box when using send mail - No I cannot.  There is no discussion about the sintax you'd use or whether this is possible at all. 

       

      For me, Filemaker 10 has failed at a very basic level - I'm a business user, not a programmer, who wants to gain time by using clever and helpful software, not dedicate my whole career to sorting out what it can do - the Help section is woefully inadequate. 

        • 1. Re: Is it me, or are the help files that come with filemaker pro 10 really poor
          philmodjunk
            

          I agree that filemaker's help needs a major review/update/overhaul. I've said so before and others have as well.

           

          However, I easily found the following in filemaker's help when I looked up "Send Mail":

           

          "Message indicates the text of the email message. You can type the message as text, use a field value, create a message from a calculation, or insert text from a file."
          When you click the arrow button to the right of the message, you bring up a filemaker's specify calculation dialog where you can "combine text strings and fields together".
                                
          "Dear " & yourtable::YourFirstNameField & ",¶¶" & Yourtable::YourMessageField
                     
          is one simple example of an expression that combines text and data fields to compose a plain text message.
           
          "There is no discussion about the syntax"
          There are definately no examples of this given under Send Mail. You can look up "Calculation" in help to find an entry labeled Specify Calculation Dialog Box which documents all the features of this dialog which is used in Send Mail and almost every other place in filemaker where you would enter a calculated expression. Not a perfect system, but hopefully those pointers will get you started in the right direction.
          • 2. Re: Is it me, or are the help files that come with filemaker pro 10 really poor
            trouty
              

            Hi Phil,

             

            It didn't actually tell you when looking up Send Mail/Message in the Help files whether you could combine text strings with fields did it?

             

            I find the whole way that Filemaker layout the help also very messy and not easily digestible to the eye. 

            • 3. Re: Is it me, or are the help files that come with filemaker pro 10 really poor
              philmodjunk
                

              To each their own opinion.

               

              My opinion: Yes it did, but Filemaker could do a lot better to give an example not just indicate you can enter a calculation. Most filemaker developers know what can be done with calculations but that doesn't mean it's obvious to new users.

              • 4. Re: Is it me, or are the help files that come with filemaker pro 10 really poor
                TSGal

                trouty and PhilModJunk:

                 

                Thank you for your comments.  I have forwarded this thread to the manager of our product documentation.

                 

                TSGal

                FileMaker, Inc. 

                • 6. Re: Is it me, or are the help files that come with filemaker pro 10 really poor
                  david_lalonde@d-cogit.ca
                    

                  Hello trouty,

                   

                  As a technical writer and a programmer, I agree with you that the FileMaker Pro documentation is less than ideal. That being said, it is very useful to non programmers.

                   

                  It seems to me that you are attempting to use one of FileMaker Pro's feature without first understanding one of its basics: formulas (also known as calculations). Formulas permeate FileMaker Pro. They can be found in field definitions, in conditional formatting statements, in many script statements (notably the If statement) and in permissions definitions, to name a few. Using FileMaker Pro without knowing how to write formulas really robs a user of most of the power of FileMaker Pro.

                   

                  You can find help on writing formulas in FileMaker Pro's help, under "Designing and creating databases > Creating a database > Working with formulas and functions". This is a logical place to find this help, because formulas are never used when using FileMaker Pro to enter or find data or to share data with others.

                   

                  The "Send Mail" script step help states you can specify a calculation for most of its options. It does not state how one makes a calculation because this is considered basic knowledge. It is my opinion, however, that the word "calculation" could have been hyperlinked to the formulas help page.

                   

                  I hope you do not view FileMaker Pro too badly based on one bad experience. Being a programmer and having seen many other data centric application environments, I sincerely believe there is no other application out there that makes developing powerful tools any easier than FileMaker Pro. That being said, the more powerful the feature, the more complex it is to use. There will eventually be a point when no matter how easy one makes a feature, it will require knowledge and training.

                  • 7. Re: Is it me, or are the help files that come with filemaker pro 10 really poor
                    trouty
                      

                    Hi David,

                     

                    Re your comments about calculations, I do have a basic knowledge of using them, such as multiplying fields together to get totals, or working out averages, etc.   What would really help novices are some basic examples which show the structure and syntax.

                     

                    I've now managed to use combinations of text strings and fields thanks to a previous response in this forum.

                     

                    Have to admit, there are a lot of really good features I'm now enjoying. 

                    • 8. Re: Is it me, or are the help files that come with filemaker pro 10 really poor
                      tropicalviking

                      Even if this is an old thread, I wanted to comment that there seems to be a big number of former Lotus Approach users around here, I am one of them.

                      I moved to FIlemaker basically because of the simmilarities, many formulas I could just copy and paste. I had the same problem as truty finding the equivalent to Approach Combine(a,b,c) which in FM is a&b&c.

                      I tested AlphaV, Servoy and Access also, the final round was Servoy-FM.

                      Approach was a terrific product, even in the 90's it would connect to MySQL the first time I tried and after less that 10 minutes of figuring out how.

                      It had a native formula of numbers to text (still absent in FM).

                      I wonder where it would be now if IBM / Lotus hadn't abandoned it in 1998!