Author Archives: Michelle Davison

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FileMaker 17: Default Field Customization

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With the release of FileMaker 17 comes Default Fields, and thankfully they are customizable! This will be a time saver for all of us who copy and paste the same five (or more) fields into every table in every file, all the time. It may seem like a small savings at first, but will quickly amount to a lot of time and clicks. So let’s get started!

The 5 Default Fields from FileMaker

You just created your first new table in FileMaker 17 and (bam!) there are five new fields in the table already. “That’s awesome!” you thought, which was probably followed by “But how do I customize them?”  Don’t worry we’ll cover that next, but first let’s take a look at the fields that FileMaker has already provided:

  1. PrimaryKey – Unique identifier of each record in this table
  2. CreationTimestamp – Date and time each record was created
  3. CreatedBy – Account name of the user who created each record
  4. ModificationTimestamp – Date and time each record was last modified
  5. ModifiedBy – Account name of the user who last modified each record

Although naming conventions for them vary, the fields above are standard to most developers and should be for you too. They are incredibly valuable in maintaining the integrity of your data. If you are new to FileMaker or are unsure of their use, I recommend you keep them as they will come in handy in the future.


The fields that FileMaker have included by default are a great starting point, but this new feature becomes truly powerful when we customize them. Modifying the field names to conform to your specific naming conventions, and adding your additional ‘standard’ utility fields are just a couple reasons you should take the time to customize them.

Step 1:

Download the template file called DefaultFields.xml included in this article. You can also dig into the FileMaker Advanced 17 package folder to find it. If you choose the latter, be sure to exit the application before doing so and make a separate copy of the file in a different location where you can then modify it.

In Finder, navigate to the FileMaker Advanced 17 folder and right-click on the application, then click ‘Show Package Contents’. From there you can navigate to the following file:

C:\Program Files\FileMaker\FileMaker Pro 17 Advanced\Extensions\English

Step 2:

Open the XML file in a text editor and start customizing!
Side note: although I couldn’t find documentation from FileMaker on the grammar required, it’s fairly easy to gauge what options are available for each field and how to modify them.

Step 3:

Move your customized file into the following directory:
Mac: Users/Shared/FileMaker/Shared/
Windows: C:\ProgramData\FileMaker\Shared\

Step 4:

Open your FileMaker solution and go to File>Manage>Database to create a new table. Your new default fields should be created automatically. That’s it!

Turn Default Fields Off

If for some reason having FileMaker’s default fields added to every new table just doesn’t work for you, you can easily turn this functionality off (and back on again when you realize how valuable they really are!).

Step 1:

Create and save a blank file called DefaultFields.xml. Any basic text editor such as TextEdit on Mac or Notepad on Windows will work fine for this task.

Step 2:

Move this file into the following directory:
Mac: Users/Shared/FileMaker/Shared/
Windows: C:\ProgramData\FileMaker\Shared\   


What default fields are you excited to create?


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FileMaker 16: Card Window

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They’re Heeere ….

One of the new features in FileMaker Pro 16 (and one we’re super excited about!) is the Card Window, which is essentially a new window that lives within your current one. So why are we so excited? Cards have all the benefits of popovers plus all the benefits of a new window. In other words, you get to maintain the context you are in by not leaving your current layout, and still work within a different context since a Card can be based on any layout (and table) within your solution. Finally!

How do they work?

Although Cards use the same script steps as regular floating windows, there are some differences in the available options and overall behavior.  So let’s dig in…

Script Steps (look familiar?)
  • New Window
  • Go to Related Record (with the option “Show in new window”)
  • Close Window
  • Move/Resize Window
  • Layout (choose from any layout in your solution, fixed or calculated)- NEW, but not limited to card windows
  • Size (fixed or calculated)
  • Position (fixed or calculated)
  • Dim parent window (on/off) – NEW
  • Close (on/off option to display ‘close’ button) – NEW

Interacting with Cards

The default behavior when a Card first opens is to center itself within your current layout and dim the background. Unlike a floating window, this means you can no longer interact with the underlying layout. You also have the option to leave the background layout visible (not dimmed), however it will still be frozen until the Card is closed.

Here’s the best part: you don’t need to worry about having an existing relationship between the table in your current layout and the table in the Card’s layout, so a Card Window really can be based on any layout.  Card Windows can even open layouts in another file!

Closing Cards

In FileMaker Go with the ‘close’ option enabled, you can tap anywhere outside of the Card to close the window. If you choose to disable that option, you will need to create a custom button for that purpose using the Close Window script step.

In FileMaker Pro with the ‘close’ option enabled you must click the ‘close’ button found in the top left corner of the Card, otherwise you’ll need to create a custom button.

Note: Keyboard shortcuts work either way in FileMaker Pro: Command+W (OS X) and Ctrl+W (Windows)

Start Using Cards. Right. Now.

Cards will be a welcomed replacement for many popovers, windows and custom dialog boxes.

Here are just a few examples:  

  • Use Cards instead of popovers for ‘pickers’. You can create a separate layout customized specifically for them, without the need to create additional relationships used solely for this functionality. This simplifies the relationship graph and generally has better performance.
  • Create truly Custom Dialog Boxes. Unlike traditional dialog boxes, there is no limit to the amount of button options you can have on a layout, and they can be designed in any shape/size/color.  
  • Use Cards instead of portals to add/edit child records. You can create a customized layout and you won’t be restricted to tiny line item in a portal. You’ll thank yourself later.
  • Use Cards in ways we haven’t even thought of yet!


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Monthly FileMaker Meetup – June 2017

Thank you to everyone who came out for our monthly FileMaker Portland Meetup group that met on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.

We watched a great presentation by Ralf Rainer von Albedyhll about his new app titled ‘NextPitchLA’ (that is now up and ready for download from the Apple App Store) that was created entirely from FileMaker. He walked us through the app which helps users track developments in the new Regulation Crowdfunding world, an online marketplace where non-accredited investors (and just plain regular folk) get to invest in startups. We also gained insight into the process of appraisal and approval from the Apple App Store.

See more of Ralf’s work at, and check out his website for more info about his exciting new startup!

Our many thanks goes out to Ken Skeen and Hanna Anderson for graciously providing a space for the event and to Matt Navarre for hosting and providing Hot Lips pizza and beverages! Also, a special thanks to Joey Grimaldi of ODI Technologies for informing us of the existence of this: Sales Guy vs. Web Dude.

Our next FileMaker Portland Meetup is scheduled for Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 for a DevCon recap. We hope to see all of you there!