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Notes from March 10 Product Briefing. FileMaker 11 debuted Monday! This group is mostly running versions 7 and up but many are still running 5 and 6.

Charting!

FileMaker bought and embedded into FileMaker. More charts will be added in subsequent versions. Assign x and y axis to fields. Oooo, nice color palettes! The chart is live depending on your found set. You can even chart summary field values based on a break field. All you do is sort, the same as if you were preparing a table.

Filtering

Can filter based on a field value or a calculation. You don't need extra indexing. Basically, you can use one relationship to show many different data sets. This is really going to streamline the relationship graph. Go To Related Record script step will not consider filters.

Variables at the UI Level

Nice! Now you don't have to create a field in order to show it on the layout. Something I've wanted in FM since I worked in FoxPro in the early 90s. Bill just showed a cool technique that combines portal filtering, charts and script triggers. Essentially, the chart's X and Y are set to variables. A script trigger walks through the portal and builds the value.

Layout Groups

Another tool just for developers. But there's more, you can do lots more in the Manage Layouts dialog - including set script triggers and go to the layout. Also new in layout mode are badges that mark field that have script triggers, conditional formatting, etc. Do we need stinkin' badges?

Googly Experience

A handsome, google-like find window is now up in the status bar. It will conduct a search on all of the fields on the current layout. And what's more...

  • You can turn off Quick Find on a layout
  • You can disable a field from being searched by the Quick Find
  • You can also hijack Quick Find and tie it to a script

Good Stuff

  • You can import Custom Functions.
  • Can use variables in Perform Find
  • Nice trick where you build a complex query that progressively thins the record set
  • Now there's an Inspector
  • Security - can better manage who can pull a table occurrence
  • Snapshot Links are pretty cool, an easy way to send a found set to another user with access to the file while preserving the layout, sort order, current record, etc.

Ad Hoc Reporting

FileMaker's been turning over more tools to the user for searching and reporting. As a developer, you can give users a view only layout and let them "go to town" because the user can:

  • Save finds
  • Sort and subtotal in browse mode
  • Control what fields are on a layout

Server

  • Continued performance improvements especially when FileMaker is an ODBC source.
  • Can make clones as part of your backup routine
  • Statistics tab logs lots of stuff which helps in trouble-shooting
  • Can turn over a folder to a group for management

Upgrade!

Get yourself into 10 at the very least. If you host your solution on version 11, client versions 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 can connect. If you host your solution on version 7, client versions 7-11 can connect but not take advantage of any functionality in a version higher than the server. If you're running clients earlier than version 9, read this caveat from a FileMaker staffer on the Technet Forum:

FileMaker Pro 9, 10 and 11 clients are the only clients "supported" to work with FileMaker Server 11. However, FileMaker 7, 8, and 8.5 clients are not blocked from connecting to FileMaker Server 11 BUT you are "swimming without a lifeguard" if you choose to do so. Probably won't have an issue, inasmuch as you would have doing similar things with Server 10 - but [FileMaker]Technical Support will more than likely tell you that isn't a support configuration if you call in with issues.

More 11 Coverage

List member Marc found a page someone put together of all of the release-day coverage of the FileMaker 11 release on various blogs, including videos, technique files, etc. http://fmprandom.blogspot.com/2010/03/listing-of-announcement-day-filemaker.html. Thanks Marc!

For a complete list of new features in version 11, read this "What's New" list from the FM11 help files. Thanks Elleni!

The Recover feature is to be avoided. It should not be part of your file maintenance strategy. The first priority is to avoid corruption...

In Development

  • Keep up-to-date clones.
  • Avoid making changes to schema on live hosted files. Boo! That's one reason FileMaker is so much better than Access. Still, avoid and minimize.

If you must, use the following method. Why? If a crash happens, your file is less likely to get corrupted because the connection to the hosted file is not broken.

  • Install FileMaker Pro client on the server. Wha? FileMaker always said not to.
  • Have Server running before launching client.
  • Remote in or work directly on the server.
  • Launch client and connect to hosted files using "Open Remote..."
  • Make your changes.

In Deployment

  • Avoid Peer-to-peer sharing. It's only valid for teeny workgroups.
  • Avoid using the same box for file sharing.

Corruption Happens

  • Have a sound backup strategy.
  • Test your backups!
  • Don't backup corrupted files on top of good backups. Maintain a catalog of previous backups.

Evidence of corruption at the field level includes: a found set of records that does not match your Find criteria, or incorrect or missing Portal records.

Recovery v Consistency Check

In earlier versions, a Consistency Check was something the file or server did on it's own. You may have seen the dialog box saying it was performing one. Consistency Check is a low-level evaluation of the file blocks only. It leaves the file intact and reports on its findings.

Recovery creates new file and discards invalid blocks. Recovery does not include a Consistency Check so you should perform one.

New in 10

  • Now you can invoke a Consistency check on any closed file.
  • Advanced options allow you to select the types of checks and recoveries.
  • Now you can create a Copy or Compacted Copy of a closed file.
  • Now you can bypass a file's opener script and initial layout (it will create a new blank layout and navigate to that).
  • Whoo hoo, now we have log files!

The Log File is a loooong, but tab-delimited file which you could pop into FileMaker and search. Look for the word "error" or "change." Always read the summary. Always. Even if the final dialog says everything is fine (there's actually a bug that misreports). Keep copies of your log files. Subsequent recoveries append to the same log file.

Other Resources for Technet Members

White Papers and Technical Briefs

  • Demystifying FileMaker Pro File Recovery
  • FileMaker Server 9 Configuration Guide for Windows and Macintosh
  • File Management Best Practices

Seminars and Podcasts

  • FileMaker File Maintenance
  • Windows Monitoring to Maintain A Healthy FileMaker Server
  • Optimizing Windows Operating Systems for FileMaker Server
  • Server Configuration Best Practices for FileMaker Server