1 2 3 Previous Next 75 Replies Latest reply on Dec 13, 2012 11:06 PM by BruceRobertson

    Is it time we started to "think 12"?


      I would be pretty depressed by the negativity on the lists about 12 if my own experience was not so markedly different.


      Being from Britain I am used to the tendency here to talk things down - to criticise - to moan - but I find it surprising that so many folk on the FM lists are falling prey to that British disease.


      So I thought it would be useful to start a new thread on ways that we can start to "think 12" and look forward not backwards.


      Many of us can still remember the effort involved in starting to "think 7" in 2004 - we just need to do the same now - except the step is much smaller than in 2004.


      The first job is to consider what are 12's big pluses - what does it do really well that we can leverage - areas where we can perhaps developm new answers to old problems?


      Here are my starters - you will doubtless have others to contribute.


      (1) It makes it easier to create good or great looking layouts


      (2) FMS12 offers insanely great value list performance


      (3) FMS12 offers improved WAN performance


      (4) FM12 is pointing us as developers straight at iOS and thus a simpler less traditional approach to design


      (5) The free release of FMGO12 highlights the importance of iOS.


      If you figure items (1) (4) and (5) make sense then some time spent reading the Apple Human Interface Guidelines for both iOS and OSX is time well spent - search for MobileHIG.pdf and OSXHIGuidelines.pdf - btw I was surprised by how many apps I had used which I now realise were non-compliant with some pretty basic principles of iOS.


      Now come back to FM12 and start thinking how to deliver a great new system - or a new interface for an existing system - based on these principles and your views on what strengths of FM12 you want to leverage.


      Here is my first suggestion for "think 12".


      (a) Traditionally when we want to view related information we create a portal displaying the relevant records - over a WAN you may have a wait whilst that portal renders - when you scroll it there may be some delay - almost inevitably.


      (b) OK so what function does that portal offer? There are two functions - (A) It enables us to view a list of the records we may wish to inspect more closely and (B) it provides a summary or overview of those records which we can just want to observe - perhaps with numeric summary products.


      (c) For me the first (A) is the most frequently used and under iOS we do want to simplify don't we?


      (d) So how can we create an instant list of related records in order to click through into the detail we wish to inspect more closely.


      So - have you got there before me?


      Why not dispense with portals used for function (A) and use the new insanely fast value lists instead? You just need to generate the text to appear in the list - some appropriate summary string - this also offers the advantage under iOS that it appears in one of those great picker / popovers - which means folk have the pleasure of spinning up and down - considerably more pleasent than waiting for a portal to render.


      It removes another layout element form your screen - aiding simplicity.


      I look forward to hearing your views - please feel free to disagree - this is just my personal view.



        • 1. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

          I agree it's disappointing that there's so much "FileMaker 12 sucks" and so little "Look what I can do!" I think the upgrade to FileMaker 12 is setting foundations for things to come more than a complete overhaul in how we do things; surely the new file format was designed with future extensibility in mind. A better comparison might be the difference between 8.5 and 9 than the difference between 6 and 7. It's easier to approximate the look-and-feel of contemporary fashionable interfaces, we have some FileMaker-native shortcuts for things that used to lean on external tools, and we have some under-the-hood improvements; but it's mostly the same platform. Because of the file format change, adoption is much slower, which will slow down invention of new techniques. I expect the rate of experimentation to accelerate as people get comfortable enough to convert, particularly after the release of a v2 update.


          One thing that disappoints me is that most of the positive chatter is about features mainly of interest to the niche of advanced developers, especially the ExecuteSQL function. To be fair, ExecuteSQL is a pretty huge deal — if you already know SQL. It's like going to DisneyLand and spending the whole time enjoying how clean the bathrooms are instead of queueing up for Space Mountain. The killer feature of FileMaker 12 is the interface design tools overhaul. When version 10 introduced script triggers, there was so much excitement that folks hosted contests to see who could come up with the most clever uses for them. Where's the FileMaker 12 user interface design contest? I'd be particularly interested to see what developers come up with when adding the constraint that no graphic objects not native to FileMaker are allowed. (We've had image-based gradients for years, after all.) Such a contest would also highlight the importance of user interface and visual design skills among developers. I think understanding grid-based design should be as important to professional FileMaker developers as knowing what anchor-buoy is. Perhaps the release of version 12 is the occasion to evangelize that attitude.

          • 2. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

            I self-developed a db for my professional services practice and learned a bundle along the way.  And, I use FM as a "spreadsheet plus" to quickly analyze and sort data on website performance, you name it.  I create mini-db's all the time to solve minor problems and to clarify data. Great tool.


            The last "bulk" heavy duty training I did was for FM 9 and then a little in 10.  I am running 11 in my office.  I haven't upgraded to 12.  I do not plan to do so. The main reason is the new features, primarily the Themes.  Tremendously powerful. But I do not want to have to redesign all of my layouts, worry about file conversaion, and learn new layout design tools to boot.  I have been able to suss out and spot learn a bit here and there to make minor mods. But investing $1200 in software, $200 in training, and who knows how many hours of additional learning? Nah.  Not now.  Maybe come winter when I have a hankering to lean new stuff.


            I like that FM moves forward, and I understand that there are always new things to learn, and I also get that to remain a current, up-to-date beginner to intermediate developer, you have to learn and exercise your muscles.  Filemaker is a great product and learning how to use it is one of the best investments I've ever made.


            For the vast majority of users who happen to be part-time amateur developers, upgrading which creates more work for us is not a prospect that is super desirable.  A rusty hammer which still drives nails is not apt to be replaced by a shiny new one, because there is no compelling need to do so. Add in a high price tag (well, its 3x the cost of Excel, but does 100X as much so...)and adoption slows further.  This means that not alot of FM users who hire developers are jumping on board immediately, so that means fewer developers get lots of practice with the new stuff, which means a more slowly developing advanced skill set with the new bells and whistles.


            That said, there are some REALLY smart people who do FM development.  Give it a bit of time:  you'l be wowed eventually...

            • 3. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

              I'm just getting started with FM Pro so I don't have the legacy issues that a lot of folks will have. I particularly like you're bringing up the UI side of things. It's not just "cool" and "pretty" but also good design in the sense of the end user knowing what each screen is asking him / her to do. And if it's pretty, to boot - all the better. Anything that makes that easier is on the cutting edge.

              • 4. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

                Some of the SQL tricks might be niche, but the level of open sharing is such that within a month of delivery there are already very cool open examples for anyone to take to pieces and incorporate.

                I think 12 is about functionality not the flash of the interface, that imposes too much as it is nowhere near open, but streaming containers with movies and pdf, free Go, SQL, new fmp12 protocol, plugins from containers.


                Heard someone at a FBA preview talking about the size of the iPad markets as a challenge. 'If your old customers are not interested in mobile walk out the door there are millions of new owners of devices who are'

                FMP12 opens the doors to some amazing new markets, all it takes it the right products. Look where Qaurk Express is now compared to InDesign!


                Thinking 12 - absolutely. It's in invitation to a brand new world, and we all got a flying start as we already know how to model data, make complex relationships and deliver targeted reporting, and a million clever process extensions. Let me at those willing customers!

                • 5. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

                  I think 12 is great and all new clients will be using it. I will upgrade the 1/2 of my client base that have maintenance too.


                  There is one thing that I'm surprised hasn't been heralded enough...


                  We are now iOS developers.


                  We can create apps that run on an iPad without going through the app store approval process and our clients don't have to pay the $20 or $40 entry fee anymore. It's true we don't have access to many of the iOS hooks (accelerometer, etc), or the exposure of the app store, but we can provide our own solutions without Apple taking their cut of our pricing. I don't know any other method of getting a vertical market solution onto iOS that doesn't require the app store.

                  • 6. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

                    I haven't really started to get into doing innovative things with 12 yet because some little things I did in 11 work differently and I am still in an adjustment phase.


                    In 12 you can make some fantastic looking layouts but so far I find they take longer to get right. Very easy to get caught up in tweaking corner radius, changing gradient angles and so on.


                    I managed to bring up a modal dialog in preview mode today and I couldn't do anything with it. An example of a 12 feature that I am still trying to suss out.


                    I have some ideas for things to do in 12, but at the moment I am too busy trying to decide between 6pt rounded corners or stick with square :)

                    • 7. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

                      Hi David


                      Well said - iOS is the future from users' perspective.


                      The essence of iOS is that one should not need to learn and remember how to use an app.


                      Whenever you open your app you should be able to see how to use it without having to remember how you learnt to use it before for any normal activity.


                      FileMaker systems have traditionally had complex screens where folk demonstrate their development skills and creativity by fitting in more stuff on every layout - tab objects encouraged this trend.


                      My approach is never to use tab objects - hence removing all that caching of non visible data - and to simplify - remove everything that is not essential to the task the user has in mind.


                      Then deploy on iOS or Mac or PC.


                      So David - you are highlighting the opportunity we face - well said!





                      • 8. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

                        You are perfectly right, it opens great perspectives if we are ready to see them and get there.



                        Learning Filemaker

                        • 9. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

                          Leave the interface part of it and dig into the new script or images capabilities.

                          • 10. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

                            I've had oh-so-much-fun in v12. I've been converting things like mad and really enjoying applying themes and looking at my iPad possibilities. There is certainly much to think12 about...


                            I went to Andrew LeCates presentation in Sydney on Thursday arvo and it put a few of my frustrations in perspective and made me realise the longer term potential. I listened to a few people explaining their problems with upgrading which for many cases related to problems which should have been fixed versions ago. There are no really big conversion issues...


                            Sure we all have clients who are stuck back in previous versions, but that has always been the case. The big issue here is the lack of backwards compatibility due to file formats and therefore the need for another test server to separate everything and if I go to a Lion development machine I will have to give up all the legacy versions on the one machine. I've been here before many times. I think FMI did very well to maintain a single file format / extension for all those years and we were very spoilt.


                            - Lyndsay

                            • 11. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

                              Lyndsay Howarth wrote:


                              I went to Andrew LeCates presentation in Sydney on Thursday arvo... I listened to a few people explaining their problems with upgrading which for many cases related to problems which should have been fixed versions ago. There are no really big conversion issues...


                              I was there too... and some of those issues were NON-issues, like the non-printing colour on layout parts (or whatever it was) which can be achieved with a coloured rectangle set to "not print".


                              I think your comment "FMI did very well to maintain a single file format / extension for all those years and we were very spoilt" is absolutely, positively, 100% spot-on.

                              • 12. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?

                                Thanks Vaughan,


                                I think I saw you from across the room. I may have walked straight past you though ... age has taken it's toll on my sight.


                                Yes... there were a lot of non-issues.

                                There was one revelation too... I spent an hour trying to get the extra border to reduce to none on one of the themes. I feel relieved that it can't be done... yet.


                                There was only one note I took... about the software Andrew was using to mirror his iPad screen. I wrote down "Reflections". I have searched high and low on the Apps store and on iTunes and I cannot find it. I want to make some vid of a couple of things. Any ideas or clarifications?


                                - Lyndsay

                                • 14. Re: Is it time we started to "think 12"?



                                  I think you indirectly hit on a sore topic.  I would love to have been at that forum with Andrew, he's a great guy and knows the ins and outs.  But, this issue with bugs that should hve been fixed versions ago is a big deal.  FMI is always pushing ahead, riding "the wave" as they said at last years Devcon.  That is certainly beneficial.  But I feel there is a tendancy to let some things sit on the back burner and never get resolved.  There are some serious issues with printing, and there are many features that feel like they are 80% complete, with no real plans or desires to revisit those features and really round them out properly.  Sometimes it feels like once they have the Marketing "tick box" for a feature, then it's considered "finished".  I think this is a shame because it leaves many of the features somewhat "shallow".  The developer gets sucked in, makes some good progress, then finds out there's significant limitations and gets frustrated, or has to employ workarounds that are anything but elegant.  I would really like to see a "Legacy Feature" Czar at FMI, who has the authority and ability to make sure that previously introduced features get a bit more attention as new versions are released.


                                  Would you be kind enough to share some other highlights of the meeting? 



                                  Lee Snover

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