Using FileMaker In A Music Library/Player Solution - Update 1
Wed Jul-05-2017 01:25
I'd like to give a brief update on development of a Music Library database I've been working on using FileMaker Pro 16.
Note: although I've used FMP v3 and v4 back in the day, it has been a long time since then. I'm delighted to see how the platform has expanded and matured, with many new features, most notably the Interactive Containers.
Note: if you are a beginner, or even a former user of older versions, I'd recommend the "FileMaker Pro 15 Essential Training" course by Chris Ippolite on Lynda.com. It's a very thorough and student-friendly study. I'm seeing things here I never knew about FMP. I wish I had similar training like this for FMP 4 back in the day. https://www.lynda.com/FileMaker-Pro-tutorials/Welcome/466184/494855-4.html
iTunes-Like Music Library FMP 10:
* I was impressed with Nick Hunter's iTunes-like Music Library solution that he had created using FMP10, as well as the SimpleSound and Troi-files plug-ins. He essentially recreated the iTunes player in FileMaker. This included full Playlist handling, the ability to select and drag/drop multiple track records into separate playlists, and the ability to play tracks in sequence from the player section at the top while continuing to work with other tracks in the found set below.
FileMaker Music Library (FMP11 and 12) - Obsolete:
* I was able to find the FileMaker Music Library starter solution that was included with FMP11 and 12. It displays albums in a detail record, while allowing the addition of the album's tracks in a portal. For the Genre field, there are multiple checkboxes displayed; I would prefer this to be a value list instead, saving on screen space. It has a Web Search which allows the lookup of an albums tracks in WikiPedia, very useful for referencing information when entering an album's info. The Playlist tab was a bit strange - when trying to add a track to the playlist, every track in the entire database shows up in a popup menu! This would become increasingly cumbersome the more tracks are added to the database.
It seems to me this Filemaker solution is obsolete. I've since discovered features in the FMP 16 starter solution, Content Management, that are far better than this for what I'm looking for in a music library.
FMP 16 Advanced Content Management Starter Solution:
* I opened the advanced version of the Content Management starter solution, which is definitely more robust than the simpler version. I was very pleased with this! For each new record, I found that I could drag/drop an MP3 file into the File Container with many great results. This information was all automatically entered:
- The MP3 file could be played back from the detail record.
- The MP3 Tag info displayed in the Container area, including Title, Artist, Album, Year, Duration, Bit Rate, etc.
- The Album Art appeared (for MP3 files that have the art embedded within them)! Very nice!
- The FileName, Date, and other info displayed in the main area to the left, including Storage Info, very important.
* I was also delighted to see these things, again, auto-entered by simple drag/drop of the MP3 file into the File Container field in the detail view:
- The List View displays pertinent info on the albums, including fileName, description, etc ... but also had the album cover displaying in the Display Container (for files that have the art embedded in them).
- The Thumbnail View was best of all! The album art displays horizontally across the screen, similar to viewing albums on Amazon Music! This is really great; one of the items I highly desired for my Music Library was the ability to display the albums in a grid like this with album covers and titles. Clicking on an album gets you the detail view. Yeah! Very nice!
Albums vs Tracks - How To Modify This Solution:
* The ability to drag/drop TRACKS into the dbase is very cool, where the MP3 Tag info, including album art, is auto-entered.
* But I'd like to be able to have a way to display the Album details, where the Album info and Art appears, and where the Album's Tracks appear to the right, in a portal, displayed in correct sequence using albumTrackNo or other field. It'a looking to me like the Content Management table might be renamed Tracks. A new table will be Albums. The Layouts might be renamed Tracks, Tracks List, and Tracks Thumbnails, and new Layouts might be added, Albums (detail view w/portal displaying the Album's Tracks), Album List, and Album Thumbnails.
* A note for Tracks within the Album Detail portal ... it would be great to click on a track and have it play back while in the Album View. While containers in a portal won't play back, a button within the track can open a popover, and the track can play back from there. It would REALLY be great to be able to scroll between the album's tracks within the popover, if that's possible. I have to learn how to do the popovers ... but that sounds cool, like this should work.
This is very cool to discover the modern things that can be done with interactive containers and how, with the correct scripting and layout setup, so much info can be auto-entered into the dbase. It's especially nice to see that this includes the album art for each track. The Music Library solution I'd like to have will hopefully work similar to the way Amazon Music's player handles things, including the grid display of the albums.
Note: in order for MP3 album art to display in FMP, the art has to be embedded within the MP3 file. I'd suggest using MediMonkey to add art to your MP3 files. Winows Media Player will do this as well, but I never got used to the way the Libraries work in that player. It's frustrating, unintuitive ... Microsoft! Not recommended. As for iTunes, I simply haven't tried that on Windows ... I'll have to check it out on the Mac.