14 Replies Latest reply on May 24, 2015 9:02 AM by RobertMcgtaffic

    Design flaw - layout object selection



      Design flaw - layout object selection


      FileMaker Pro



      Operating system version

      Windows 7

      Description of the issue

      The blue glowy border around the selected area obscures whatever is underneath it.  This makes dragging / moving any selected object extremely frustrating and adds extra steps to make sure that the object you are moving ends up exactly where you want it.  These extra steps either double or triple how much time it takes for me to manually rearrange things.

      Steps to reproduce the problem

      Select any object in layout mode.
      Note blue glowing border
      Attempt to drag an object and perfectly line up the edge exactly where you want it in relation to the edge of another object.

      Expected result

      Be able to see where the edge of the selected object(s) are in relation to the other objects on the layout.

      Actual result

      You can't because the blue glowing border obscures everything that is underneath it.


      Workarounds are annoying and take extra time.  I usually have to deselect the object, determine if I "hit the mark", and when I haven't, I have to reselect them again.  The only other workarounds also take up extra time in terms of selecting another object, noting the the pixel position of the border I want it to overlap with, then selecting the first object and typing in the pixel position.

      Preferred solution:
      A preferences option to show / hide blue border.  That way people who like it can still use it.

      Please note, that because this increases my development time, I ethically have to inform my clients that if they upgrade to FM 12+, they can expect an increase of development costs of 20-30% because of the increased time spent trying to maneuver objects around on the screen.  As a result, none of my clients have been willing to upgrade from FM 11, because the increased price tag is too much.

        • 1. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection
          Markus Schneider


          don't like that as well!

          • 2. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection

            If you are wanting to line the left edge of one object with the left edge of another object, look at the Inspector's 'Position' pane as there are alignment tools that have keyboard shortcuts for aligning top, left, centre, right and bottom. This is far quicker than aligning objects manually by hand.

            Where your request has merit is when you are attempting to align different sides of different objects (top edge of one object with the bottom edge of another object). The highlight obscures and slows down development then.

            • 3. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection

              I am aware of the alignment tools.  I am specifically talking about situations in which the alignment tools do not apply, which is quite often.  Most of my clients prefer that there be no spacing between fields vertically/horizontally.  And although I could in theory do the math for vertical overlap and use the vertical distribute adjustment tool, it still takes up more time than just being able to drag things into position.  Horizontal distribute alignment spacing is usually pointless because the field widths are rarely ever the same.

              I've include and image that demonstrates.  I can't tell whether or not the vInstalled2num field's top border is directly on top of the vInstalled field's bottom border.

              I really don't need the blue border at all.  The white squares are more than enough to let me know my selection boundaries.  If it's so important to have the borders, at least provide some options of what the border looks like: transparency levels, dashed lines, thickness, etc.  This is all css stuff, so it can't be that difficult to allow for some customization for the user.

              This "feature" causes me NO end of headaches.

              • 4. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection
                Benjamin Fehr

                Be aware that we have to deal with 4k, 5k and other displays with even higher resolution in the future. Though smallest glitches get obvious.

                That's why I do fine-tuning in layout-mode with max. Zoom = 400% 


                • 5. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection

                  Benjamin, does that mean you like or dislike the blue border of the selected area?  Just asking for clarification because your response doesn't really address the original post directly.

                  • 6. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection
                    Benjamin Fehr

                    Christopher Gauntt

                    First I think this is a great topic to start a discussion in the FM Community Forum. This section (Issue report) is dedicated to those numerous bugs to be reported day by day. TS will tell you that this behavior is "as-designed" and not a issue.

                    for a brief answer:

                    There's been a lot of changes with FMP12/13 in Layout-Mode which some of theme went contrary to the way we used to do in the past. Seems that I've already adopted well to this changes. I got used to it after I've learned a bunch of new tricks. 

                    I really like to encourage you to start this as a discussion on the FM Community forum.

                    • 7. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection

                      Christopher, your screenshot is what I was agreeing with in terms of slowing down development. Most of my development work is done in a similar way to yours where fields overlap by one point so that there appears to be no space between them. I guess I've gotten used to using the Inspector for moving all items in this way so I'm not bothered by the blue highlight anymore.

                      I've come to rely on the Inspector because of how we lost the constrain feature that we had in FM11 when copying and moving objects. While it has been reimplemented in FM13, it still doesn't work in the same way. I often find objects that were supposed to have been aligned with another object being 1 or 2 points out after the object has been copied and dragged by holding the Option key down on the Mac and seeing the dynamic guides show the new object is aligned to the original object.

                      • 8. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection

                        I will note that there are guides that pop up (most of the time) when you drag or nudge an object so that its edge or center aligns with a nearby object. This, to some extent, reduces the irritation. That and the fact that I've long used the alignment tools as a faster way to pull one object into alignment or uniform spacing with another since even dragging without the "glow" in order versions could leave you off by a pixel if you weren't careful.

                        • 9. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection

                          Personally, I have found the pop-up dynamic guides to not only be distracting, but incredibly inaccurate and basically useless.  Especially on complex layouts.  They work fine on simple layouts with a few fields, but quickly become obsolete as complexity increases.  Even in simple list modes I have found them to be unreliable, so I turn them off.  So that leaves me with my eyesight, the inspector, and the alignment tools.  The alignment tools don't cover the situation.  The blue glow border hinders my eyesight.  Using the inspector for the specific purposes I've mentioned is (in my opinion) just as inefficient if not more so than dragging and hoping you've got it positioned right:  you end up having to click on multiple objects, memorize position numbers, select other objects, and type in numbers, etc.  Not a time saver when you have to click and type all over the place.

                          And although I understand the argument that this should be a discussion in the forum, I would counter that there is a legit argument for reporting it as a bug.  Being a developer, I deal with this sort of thing all the time when I create solutions for my clients.  Just because something works the way it is designed does not mean it doesn't cause problems.  When a feature is implemented and makes development slower, not faster (which are the intended purpose of the layout tools), then it's a design flaw, and thus a bug that should be corrected - not treated as a feature request.

                          Considering how much development time is devote to layout creation and modification, the inefficiency of FM12+ is a significant increase in expense for my clients.  And currently it's enough that they have no desire to migrate any of their solutions to the better platform.

                          If that one thing - that one little thing - could be fixed, I could without hesitation recommend upgrading to all my clients.

                          • 10. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection

                            Christopher Gauntt:

                            Thank you for your posts.

                            I recommend you enter this suggestion into our Feature Requests web form at:


                            The entries into this web form populate a database file that is hosted and monitored by Product Management and Development.  All entries are read, discussed and considered for possible implementation in a future release.  Although I could easily copy your posts and paste them into the web form, there are a couple of questions asked that only you can answer.

                            FileMaker, Inc.

                            • 11. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection

                              I've done this before, but will try again.  Whenever I've made suggestions in the past, it's always felt that it's just gone into a vacuum since I never hear anything about it.


                              I've submitted it.  Hopefully someone will do something about it.  :/

                              It doesn't matter how cool all the other features are.  The increased cost of my layout development time with that blue glow thing is stopping my clients from upgrading.  :(

                              • 12. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection

                                Wow!  What a timely post.  I downloaded the trial version of FM14Pro and this thread documents a major failing compared to MS Access.  I want  to easily emulate the vertical spacing that Inutit applies in Quicken, QuickBooks, and Customer service manager, that is ZERO vertical space between text boxes.

                                The idea of using math is laughable.  I stumbled on a Apple product called In-Design, which has additional functionality for the Align function, only to discover that this is an Adobe product not Filemaker.  Having spent an entire afternoon reading manuals and web searching, I have concluded that it simply can't be done.

                                In MS access, this is as easy as selecting object, right click Layout>Stacked which aligns them verticially.  Then you specify the Right, Lefft, Top, and Bottom padding, in my case 0.00 inches, and the layout is perfect!

                                This is a major requirement for serious development.  The suggestion of enlarging FM layouts to 400% and then trying to do this visually begs the issue why.  

                                I just cancelled my Amazon order to the yet to be released FileMaker Pro14 -- the Missing Manual.  Without some easy way of specifying the horizontal and vertical distance between objects, FileMaker is incapable of providing the decsign precision that I would expect from an Apple product.

                                And while I'm on the subject, in my MS application I use font Tahoma, Demi-Bold.  MS Access offers Tahoma in a variety of weights including Thin, Extra thin, Light, Normal, Medium, Semi-bold, Bold, Extra bold, and Heavy.  I can only find Tahoma in one weight that by pressing the [B] can be made Bold.  Unfortunately, this is appearance is too heavy for my design.

                                Geez, isn't Apple supposed to be fanatic about good design?  These of just two of the weakness I encountered In trying to replicate in Filemaker what I already had achieved in Access.   On the positive side, I really love the drop down box that doesn't display the arrow until the field receives the focus. 

                                Thanks for your posting of the futility of trying to accomplish what I had already done using MS Access.



                                • 13. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection
                                  Benjamin Fehr


                                  Whenever I've made suggestions in the past, it's always felt that it's just gone into a vacuum since I never hear anything about it.

                                  We all feel that way. We know about that "scriptable Printing" function, requested by PhilModJunk in the Year of 1995 and by dozens of other developers since then.

                                  By posting this on Facebook the FM-Community, others can join in to comment and support your request.

                                  • 14. Re: Design flaw - layout object selection

                                    I feel that correction of these shortcomings is basic and fundamental to being able to use FileMaker as a Rapid Application Development tool (RAD).  I have just posted a review on Amazon for the FileMaker 14 Pro Advanced product, recommending developers looking to adopt FileMaker try before they buy to see if they can live with these deficiencies.  Apple needs to take FM's developers to the woodshed for such amateurish design.