6 Replies Latest reply on Jan 30, 2014 4:09 AM by MartinCrosman

    FM End User Manual

    IT_User

      When developing a database in FileMaker for a customer/end user, you can either hide everything about FileMaker, so that the users do not need to know how to use FileMaker or teach the users how to do things FileMaker.

      If a person decides to teach end users how to do things in FileMaker, then it might end up more specific to the database they have developed.

       

      A question or discussion I want to start is, if I want an end user to learn Filemaker there is an End User Manual for them?

       

      This would involve leaving out any developer sections, which would have to be decided what are the parts that are least dealing with development and what is the most. A couple of main things that are less development is how to perform finds, create/delete a record, and sorting. A part that would be most development is in the Manage Database. Editing layouts and scripts could be in between.

       

      Or if you have any other ideas or comments about this, please let me know.

      I'm not sure how many other developers run into this, but I do regularly, and I don't have a problem teaching anybody anything, but it would be nice for them to have something to reference.

        • 1. Re: FM End User Manual
          mikebeargie

          You might want to check with someone on the authorized trainer lists. I know a lot of people offer "user" training for Filemaker as well as "developer" training. I don't think there is a FileMaker Inc. guide for user basics.

           

          http://www.filemaker.com/support/training/authorized_trainers.html

           

          I can say that due to wild variances in the systems being put out by FileMaker developers, it's almost impossible to expect a large amount of success from standardized user training.

           

          Sure you can teach find mode, but what if a developer locked it out?

          • 2. Re: FM End User Manual
            IT_User

            Thank you for the link, it's helpful to know that there is something such as "user" training.

            : )

             

            I would say that if a developer locked find mode, then they may have locked other things out.  That would mean they want it to be less like FileMaker, lock other things down, and therefore would not be looking for a manual for an end user.  Or in the case where they only locked a Find in certain areas, doesn't mean that it wouldn't be enabled in some areas.

            So to take from all that, I could present to the user that this behavior is default, but for systematic reasons it is locked down in certain areas.  Unless there is a reason that we don't want the user to know that a developer is locking things down.  If they still want something like a Find in certain things, either enable it with parameters, or explain why it's not effective.

             

            This, however, leaves me with an idea in creating a manual, perhaps there would be one big generic manual, and then options to delete sections of it that don't pertain to a certain customer.  In that case, you would not have to rewite a new manual for each customer, but just take the sections needed.  Or maybe even something like a fill-in-a-blank (no, that's too specific).

             

            Anyways, sorry, I know I might be sounding a bit out there with all this.

            • 3. Re: FM End User Manual
              mikebeargie

              Since FTS for v12 is still only $20 for a download, you might want to start there. http://store.filemaker.com/US/ENG/rtl/product/view/group/TSM/

               

              You can pick and choose from the modules they already have written, such as module 1 "Using FileMaker" or module 7 "reporting", while dumping the rest.

               

              There's already a lot of content out there, a lot of developers end up spending more time trying to make documentation then just using the "pass it on" style of teaching "users" filemaker, so beware of frustrating your users with added costs for training. Or by frustrating them with documentation or links to things that are not applicable to them.

              • 4. Re: FM End User Manual
                IT_User

                Well noted!

                 

                I suppose that some users would not be as patient with generic or useless documentation.  However, if they are not likely to be frustrated, and there is a manual, then there might not be extra costs for training or documentation making, since it's already there.

                (In any case, there could be costs in user training or in more time in developing something that makes things obvious to them.)

                 

                However, since you may have pointed it out that the likelihood of people getting frustrated may be significantly more than users who do not get frustrated, then making a generic manual would be useless.

                 

                Thank you for discussing this with me!  I appreciate knowing before wasting time on something.

                • 5. Re: FM End User Manual
                  lkeyes

                  Ths is an interesting question, I think, not least because people handle it differently.  A couple points:

                   

                  1. So far, for any substantial system, I've made a dedicated manual,  using Scrivner.  After a few more, I think I'll have a some generic material that can be re-used. 30% maybe.  

                  2. The clients seem to love seeing their own screens in their manual, and specific instructions for each field.  ( I generally work with unsophisticated clients). 

                  3. There are a certain numer of Filemaker-type functions which could be described, especially the controls on the toolbar, changing the screen size, and the difference between a list view and form view.

                  4. Finding (querying) has its own discussion, including the notion of a "found set", which takes awhile for people to wrap their minds around.

                  5. The manual has to include any discussion of data sharing via imports and exports. 

                  6. For one-shot forms and applications, that consist of a single screen, I really need a one-page summary.  Haven't gotten around to that yet.

                  7. After a few rounds, the documentation ususally is out of date. One solution is to make the client do the updates.

                   

                  Suggestions/Questions:

                  1. Maybe we could collectively exchange some materials to give others an idea of what we provide.

                  2. I'd really like to get into screencasting......  can anyone suggest a good low cost screencast program  (either Mac or Windows)?

                  • 6. Re: FM End User Manual
                    MartinCrosman

                    I have been using ScreenSteps for creating manuals and I use gatherplace.com for screencasting.

                     

                    Hope that helps

                     

                    Martin