June 6th Portland FileMaker Meetup

It was good to see folks again this month, for another meeting at AppWorks command HQ.  (I missed last month’s meeting, unfortunately. I was looking forward to hearing the stories from Pause on Error.)  Here are some of the highlights.

There are big changes in the licensing of FM 17.  AppWorks’ own Shawn Prado has a thorough article covering that topic.  When you purchase a 5-user license you get 3 copies of Server now.  That raised an interesting question: Does this mean you can put one of those on FileMaker Cloud with the BYOL option, instead of buying one through the FM Cloud interface?  It used to be that when you used the BYOL option your server license would get converted to FMCloud and NOT be returnable to standalone server installations at a later date if you moved off the cloud.  This then led to some discussion on hosting and server environments.

[Update, 2018.6.08:  Ran across some further info about Licensing.  There’s a thread that BigTom started on FM Community that details some answers to questions I posed above.  Specifically, section 1.c.i of the EULA says you can convert 1 of the FMS licenses to FMCloud using BYOL.  Secondly, it appears that 1 user logging in with multiple devices does NOT occupy multiple user connections on the server.  They say the gauge on the Admin Console is broken.]

Some folks like the new Default Fields – some did not.  Our own Michelle Davison has posted a detailed blog article about how to change them, or even get rid of them altogether, if you want.  You have control of everything to define about a field, including an auto-enter calculation.  (Hmmm…I wonder what happens if you mess things up and create a syntax error somewhere in the XML, or an invalid FM calculation.  Answer:  In the first case, it doesn’t create any default fields; in the second case it comments out the calculation. Neither one generated an error or warning.)

The default fields provided by FileMaker have some interesting options defined.  This brought up Matt’s vigorous disapproval of using any of the settings in the Validation tab of the field definition – for very good reasons!  You should hear his talk.

There was talk of the new Get(UUIDNumber) function.  (We have a soon-to-be blog posting aging in our cellar, with some in-depth investigation into this new function.  Stay tuned!) This veered off a bit into a discussion about indexing and finds, which also revisited Matt’s distaste for the Validation options tab.

We talked about Master-Detail portals and Add-on tables: these are both new features that could speed up your development time.  Here’s a great blog article from our own David Weiner that covers these features.

Discussed new layout tools:  docked inspector panes, editing within a group – we have our own blog posting covering this group-editing feature.

Our own Ian Harris gave an overview of new capabilities in the Data API – but due to technical and configuration issues we couldn’t see an actual demonstration.  (We had chicken on the pizza, but that apparently wasn’t enough for the Demo gods.)

Reviewed the new Admin Console with its many changes.  Some of these are head scratchers as to why they did them, others are a welcome relief.  The new improved UI is the most obvious one.  Other oddities are the fact that many, seemingly simple, settings are only available through the CLI or Admin API now.  And you can’t view the Logs directly in the console anymore, you have to download the files and view them on your machine.  For a complete list of what was removed from the Admin Console, as well as other deprecated and removed features, visit FM’s page on the topic.

The Admin API is new in 17; it’s a trial feature for now.  It shouldn’t be confused with the Data API, nor the Admin CLI – they are all separate things.

For Dean’s question about importing SSL Certificates: you were right about something being removed – the creation of the Certificate Signing Request (CSR) is gone.  Otherwise,  the UI is pretty much the same as before.  The CSR part you do have to do through the CLI (or maybe the Admin API could to it, too). The rest of the process, importing the certificate files, looks like it can be done through the UI still.

While we’re on the topic of the Admin API, there are a couple of free FM solutions out there that put a nice FM-based UI on it:

Productive Computing has an Admin API FM solution

– An Admin tool from DataManix

– Taylor Sharpe @ TMS Software also has a UI frontend solution (currently only FMS on OSX, and requires BaseElements plugin).  

There was mention of the new Data Migration Tool (DMT), which is available to FDS members.

– Here’s a real-life story from Gordon on his experience with this tool.  His process for restoring data went from 12+ hrs down to 35 minutes!

– IT Solutions has an extensive 4-part article on this tool, along with a FM solution file you can use to provide a UI for it.

Our meeting schedule is going through some change ups and will now be alternating between lunch-time events and evening events.  So keep a careful eye on the Meetup group for exact dates and times. I hope to see you all at the next meet-up!