5 Replies Latest reply on Oct 3, 2012 7:02 AM by jrenfrew

    General transparency control of layout objects


      Many applications need to incorporate diagrams and graphical elements that only apply under certain conditions. For example, we have a Filemaker application that shows the flow of signals between broadcast equipment. But this applies equally to maps, kiosk applications, product or store availability and countless others. This is a feature with thousands of visually impressive and useful applications.


      This would be hugely simpler if any object on a layout, including graphical objects (PNGs with alpha, JPGs, etc.) could be programmatically made visible, invisible or partially transparent. Script steps could refer to an object by ID or name and set its visibility to a value between zero and one. A useful additional tool would be an inspector panel listing all obects on the current layout and their visibility status, allowing the user to manually locate and change even invisible objects.


      Imagine a map showing stores in your area that carry a certain product with some stores translucent (dimmed) if the item is out of stock. Imagine a kiosk that shows a floorplan of a mall that can highlight or dim stores as you choose criteria (show dining, electronics, clothing, etc.)


      In one of our applications, we diagram signal flow between equipment at various sites. We have to cobble together masking fields to hide equipment that isn't present at some sites. This gets extremely messy and fragile very quickly. And it only works on simple backgrounds of a single color (like white). We would also love to show partially transparent arrows to indicate signals from inactive equipment. Sometimes signals take a different path, so we need to be able to make a graphic showing one path visible and hide the graphic showing the other path.


      This feature would not only open up a huge range of applications, it would also demo extremley well and look great in Filemaker promotional material.

        • 1. Re: General transparency control of layout objects

          While I would like to see more flexibility in the area of layout objects... Keep in mind FileMaker is NOT a Graphics Design or CAD application.


          FM12 does allow FileMaker objects to be invisible (not text though).  Also a lot of what "I think" you may be trying to accomplish can be done via Calculations and Relationships to a table loaded with the various images needed.  If you use PNG files, FileMaker handles the Alpha Channel correctly.  This requires a bit of planning and work, but I think you would be surprised how much you can accomplish when you dig into it.

          • 2. Re: General transparency control of layout objects

            I like where you are going with this Jeff

            • 3. Re: General transparency control of layout objects

              I understand that FileMaker is not a drawing program. It doesn't have to be for this to be a very powerful capability. We have used relationships to control visual elements but this becomes very complex, especially when the relative placement of several visual elements is important.


              Fully generalizing the control of transparency creates a very powerful tool that's also conceptually simpler than special-casing the transparency of this type of object and that type object. Fields, text, lines, inserted graphics, etc. Bringing this all under one roof where you can just say "Set object transparency ( Object Name ; Value )" eliminates a lot of work-arounds and halfway measures.

              • 4. Re: General transparency control of layout objects

                BTW, FileMaker support of PNGs with alpha channels has been very helpful. We use it all the time to improve button graphics and a whole range of things.


                The added transparency features in FM12 are very welcome but it's like we've been taken to the door of the restaurant where we can small the food and perhaps even snatch an appetizer off a passing tray but we can't actually sit down and dine. Fully generalizing transparency control is the final step in this progression.

                • 5. Re: General transparency control of layout objects

                  Conditional formatting with the transparency value (and/or colour values) calculated variables?