you mentioned Release Notes - that's where I'd start ... the New Features for 12, then 13, 14 and 15 - not too much reading. Here's the link to the 15 New Features Guide (and installation):
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Yes, we FINALLY got around to upgrading from version 11 to version 15. We've had a maintenance agreement all this time, but the change in the file format and the need to upgrade all users and the server simultaneously was a stumbling block.
So I know there are a number of differences. I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice for the most efficient way to get myself up to speed on what's different and what to look out for as I convert my version 11 databases. I suspect I could start with version 12 and read the release notes in sequence, but I have to believe there's a better way. I have already copied over the version 11 databases and converted them to .fmp12 format, and most things seem to work properly, but I don't want to deploy to my users until I'm sure I've tested everything pretty well. I've been using FileMaker since version 1, so I'm pretty comfortable with layouts, file structures, scripting, etc.
Also, I'm struggling with figuring out how the "upload to server" thing works. Is this the method for sending a new version of a database to the server so that you don't have to close everything first? If someone can tell me when that feature first appeared, I can look it up in the appropriate documentation.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
These might help...
and the aforementioned...
As for the Upload To Server feature...
Make sure you get your head around Layout Themes. When you open an early version (.fp7) the default theme is Classic, but this is really a non-theme to allow layouts to display as they were already. This has been somewhat deprecated with each version since, so it is wise to convert to using a proper theme if possible—and it's not hard to create your own, just start with one of the installed ones and adapt.
I gotta reiterate keywords note: the Classic theme is now shunned and shouldn't be used. It's bad for performance. (I wish I knew that sooner.)
Get the FileMaker Training Series Advanced book (it's only $49 or so, free with FDS) and work your way through the examples. A lot of the basics you will know but you'll still be surprised. And all the new features since 11 are covered.