11 Replies Latest reply on Sep 29, 2016 1:00 PM by theOtter

    Pointing Containers at Files


      Our company deals with a lot of graphics—probably in the petabytes by now—and thus have a fairly complex folder structure. I’m trying to set up a container field with external storage, but have it point to a path specified in a field. In other words, I’m not wanting the Container to put the graphic somewhere; the graphic is already exactly where it needs to be, cannot be moved, and cannot reasonably be copied to a different location. All I want is for the Container field to display what’s already there, as specified by a text field containing the file path. I can’t shake the thought that I’ve done something like this before, but I can’t for the life of me remember how, much less find anything online regarding how to do it.


      Anyone have any bright ideas?


      (FIleMaker 14.0v6/15.0v2 on Mac OS X/macOS)

        • 1. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

          You can't use the 'external storage' feature for containers in your scenario.  The external storage is a way to let FMS manage where to put the file.  If you already have the files somewhere and don't want to change that then remote containers is not what you want to use.


          Look at something like SuperContainer from 360Works.

          • 2. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

            You can, however, do this with a web viewer on a layout. We do this for an image database, image files are on a web server, we have a field with the URL to the image based on the folder structure, then put a web viewer on the layout, with the URL as a custom address, using the URL field. If you need more specifics, let me know.

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            • 3. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

              I had had that thought. I guess I forgot some important details:


              1) We’re trying to view a 100×100px thumbnail of a one-page PDF.


              2) We wan to be able to double-click the thumbnail to open the PDF.


              Much as I’d love to use the Web Viewer, can it handle either of these requirements?


              Thanks again!

              • 4. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

                Possibly. I’m doing this with jpg film scans of old contact sheets, actually using 2 tabs to display the image at 100% of original scan in one web viewer (so entire image doesn’t show,but you can scroll around in the web viewer to see details), then a scaled version on the other tab so it fits an 8x10 web viewer layout. I’m just not sure if it will work on a pdf. I’m not sure about the double clicking… could be handled with a script either attached to the web viewer or an overlay button, something like that, using the an external script? I use the Troi File plugin, and I think you can do it with that.


                Here’s the link from the article I used to scale the images in the web viewer. There’s a tiny bit of scrolling in the window of some files, but I think it’s due to some border issues. Just a few pixels.


                • 5. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

                  Also, you may want to consider that FileMaker Pro might not be the ideal software to manage petabytes worth of images. A program like Extensis Portfolio is SPECIFICALLY designed for PRECISELY this task: Digital Asset Management Software | Extensis Portfolio

                  • 6. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

                    Thanks, Scott. I think you’ve misunderstood, though: we’re using Xinet to manage petabytes worth of images. We use FileMaker to build user-facing (and occasionally client-facing) apps that form the backbone of our CRM, Project Management, and basic reporting systems. The images FileMaker needs to access are probably around a billionth of what Xinet has available.


                    Thank you, though!  

                    • 7. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

                      Another fun thing you can do for just thumbnails that I do in my DAM software I made in FileMaker was you do an import of the file into a field that does an Auto Enter conversion of the file to a small thumbnail that you can store in the DB. Obviously if you do that too many times the thumbnails will add up but it speeds up viewing quite a bit. That along with what else was suggested of using a web viewer to show it, it just all depends on file types and JS libraries you might have to integrate.


                      As a bit deeper side note, you can use Insert Picture step, set as a reference and if the asset is on a mounted drive that everyone uses, then the container will show the Image from that file path you inserted as a reference to. So what I did was used BaseElements plugin and allow the user to select a folder, and then could easily import the references to whatever assets you need to. I'm guessing you don't need to be showing/referencing ALL the petabytes of assets anyways, right?


                      Anyways, my 2 cents.


                      Have fun!

                      • 8. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

                        Thanks again, workingdawg. I finally got it to work and discovered that Web Viewers can’t exist in portals, which unfortunately defeats the purpose for me. So, back to the drawing board….

                        • 9. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

                          They do work in List views though (but yes I do wish they worked in portals).


                          Honestly if the only limitation you are hitting is not showing it in a portal, there are plenty ways around that. Some HTML along with FileMaker data passing into it and you can have whatever list of assets you want.

                          • 10. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

                            There are 4 ways to have graphics appear in a container field on a layout...

                            • As reference
                            • Embedded
                            • Open storage
                            • Secure storage

                            As reference & Embedded have been around for many versions
                            Open storage & Secure storage were introduced in FileMaker 12

                            If the file and folder structure is predictable, then you can take advantage of the built in FileMaker feature to show images by reference.

                            Your use case seems to call out for As reference

                            We have used as reference for projects where the FileMaker clients were a mix of OS X and Window using a calculated field to return a path that was conditional on the platform. If the location of the image file can be accurately calculated from data in the FileMaker database, then the image will just appear in the calculated container field.

                            For example:

                            • On OS X the calculation might be "imagemac:/foo/Colors for Letter_2016_09_09.pdf"
                            • On Windows the prefix would be “imagewin”

                            Obviously the file server must be mounted and you have to manage the mount points correctly.

                            In one project we used FileMaker to manage 400,000+ digital assets, no problem....we could have done more.

                            There are lots of ways to work with container fields, many of which have been mentioned on this thread.

                            Hope that helps.

                            Tony White

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                            • 11. Re: Pointing Containers at Files

                              That definitely helps! Thank you!