Insights from Gearbox

"Anyone who stops learning is old." Henry Ford

Jan 15, 2013
Jan 15 2013

Evolution of a FileMaker Layout

by Michael Layne

Here's a quick view of the progress over the years of a solution that has been around since FileMaker 4. I didn't get introduced to it until the Spring of 2006, but the relationship still continues.

Under the Hood

We've tried to maintain a balance between UI updates and improvements in the core functionality of the solution. You'll just have to take our word for it, as the tool looks better, it functions better. Since the solution is in a controlled environment and integrates with a cloud application via PHP and XML, SmartPill is used extensively.  The "New Record Request" script step is scarce thanks to SQL (all executed through SmartPill).

This is a critical tool used by approximately 50 people every day, but it's not the highest investment priority, so FileMaker has allowed the client to have a reliable system that provides the same basic business value it did seven years ago.

Skin Deep

No, the changes aren't just skin deep, but as we reviewed the latest requirements when migrating to FM12, we knew that user acceptance would be increased if the tool they use all day long got a bit of a "facelift" along with many FM12 specific improvements under the hood.

The obvious consistency in the positioning of navigation, action buttons, etc. keep users productive and effecient, and it's so familiar, training new employees is a breeze.

Not a Rewrite

Incremental changes over the years have been driven by the online product this solution supports, and I'm happy to report, FileMaker has met nearly every challenge.  A complete rewrite would be a significant investment (100+ tables, over 3m records, 30k dependencies... you get the idea), but while some of the methods used haven't been updated in years, we've been able to match new requirements with new features.

This solution is an internal tool that has motored on since 2006.  The online product it supports has been completely rewritten twice and is undergoing another rewrite with a completely different technology stack. FileMaker's role with our client has been threatened more than once in recent years and its demise had already been scheduled.  

Guess what sports fans?  FileMaker isn't going anywhere anytime soon.  That's the brief story behind these screen-shots.

[Notice the scrollbar in the first screenshot... evidence of over 60 fields beyond the fold]

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