Category Archives: FileMaker

Better FileMaker Portal Sorting

How do you offer your FileMaker users the ability to sort portals?

One method that’s been around a long time is to create a calculated field in the “child” table (the table whose records appear in the portal). This calculation is used as the portal’s sort field. The formula can become somewhat complex if it needs to account for a mix of data types, e.g. fields for date, text, number, etc. And if you want to sort by multiple fields, it gets even messier.

Another method has gained traction since the advent of tab objects (in FileMaker 8), and that is to create multiple copies of your portal. Each copy is placed on its own tab and given its own sort order. The addition of object names (in 8.5) and zero-width tabs (in 9.0) further refined this technique.

The problem with both of these methods is maintenance. In the first method, the calculation has to be revisited any time you change the fields in the portal. And in the second method, making changes to multiple copies of a portal is just a pain.

The method I’m going to show you does use a calculated field, but it’s relatively easy to grok and you never have to change it. Sound interesting? Stay tuned!

When FileMaker Server fails to start

Today FileMaker Server 11 Advanced failed to start on my iMac running OS X 10.5 (it’s my developer server). I could launch the admin console and click the start button, but nothing would happen. The FMS command line was no help either.

Fortunately I have an archive of email from the fmpexperts mailing list. A year-old post from Stephen Wonfor (thanks, Stephen!) provided the answer, which was contained in this link:
Terminal Tips: Rebuild your Launch Services database to clean up the Open With menu

I downloaded the free utility Maintenance, ran it, and chose the rebuild LaunchServices option. Problem solved!

DevCon Updates

For those of you interested in knowing more about my session topics — plugins and credit card processing — I have posted some links and info that I think you will find interesting. Thanks very much to all of you who participated!

I’ll be adding things here and there, so check back occasionally.

Live from DevCon

Now that my first session is done, I’ll have a little time to update the site. Look for updates soon on both my plugins and credit card sessions, as well as reports on the sessions I’ve attended etc. Right now I’m listening to a session on stored queries which looks like it could be useful. Stay tuned…

Fitch featured at Florida FileMaker-fest

FileMaker DevCon 2007In my little corner of the universe, the annual FileMaker Developer Conference is a big deal, and for me personally it’s a very big deal to be selected as a speaker this year. I’ll be presenting two topics:Take the Plunge Into Plugins, where I’ll delve into the mysteries and magic of FileMaker, using as examples dialog plug-ins, credit card processing and field-triggered scripts; and The Credit Card Conundrum, which will elaborate and extend the discussion from the first session. My wife and daughters will be joining me in delving into the magic kingdom and the mysteries of those drinks with the little paper umbrellas in them.

FileMaker Portland Developers’ Exchange
eye-opening meeting

You can’t tell from their website, but FMPDX puts on some great meetings. Tonight’s presenter was Vincenzo Menanno of FM::Nexus, showing off the essential Inspector, as well as Dragon Web Surveys and Account Manager.

Inspector logoGreat stuff, but the show-stopper for me was his new Web Services Plug-in. This thing gives your FileMaker solution direct access to all kinds of web services. E.g., eBay, Amazon, Google,, census data, shipping services and on and on. You can add a new web service by simply dropping a new WSDL file (Web Services Description Language) into the plug-in’s folder. The functions then show up as external functions in the FileMaker calculation dialog. It’s still in beta as of this writing, but should be released soon. What I saw of it looked very, very cool.

I highly encourage Portland-area FileMaker developers to attend these monthly meetings. In addition to great presenters, you get a chance to chat face to face with representatives from FileMaker, Inc. — tonight’s guests and pizza-patron was Phil Smith, your regional sales rep — as well as your peers. Good times.